Top Award Given by The NAMM Foundation

WEST COVINA, CA – APRIL 27, 2021 – Rowland Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Julie Mitchell announced today that Giano Intermediate School in West Covina, California, has been honored with the 2021 Best Communities for Music Education award from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Giano Intermediate is one of only 80 schools nationwide to receive this award and only 10 schools in California selected. Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Giano Intermediate answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“We are very proud that Giano Intermediate is the ONLY middle school in the state to be selected for this recognition,” said Giano Principal Carlos Ochoa. “I could not feel more proud of the transformative ideas and efforts our Music Teacher Jennifer Trujillo has brought to the Giano community. The title of this award BEST captures her impact. We truly are the Best Community for Music Education!”

When Giano Music Teacher Jennifer Trujillo started at Giano in 2018, there were 24 students in the band and 13 students in the mariachi. Now the program is thriving with almost 200 students involved in the music program taught by her, including band, choir, orchestra, mariachi, color guard and drumline!

We have a truly magical setting here at Giano: the entire school community, from administrators to teachers to parents and students; really and truly supports our music program.  Our principal, Carlos Ochoa, had a vision to build a robust and strong music program where our kids could be welcomed for who they are and bring their talents to another level, while being in a safe family-like environment to create and learn- and I felt that it was time that the country knew what was going on here,” said Trujillo. “I may be the only music teacher on campus, but it really takes everyone in the community to make something like this happen.  What we have achieved together in such a short time is nothing short of amazing.”

Since the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, it provides a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. Rowland Unified School District is proud to continue its long-tradition of commitment to music education, and the community is invited to view the District’s video Rowland Innovations: Commitment to the Arts that features Trujillo and other music educators across the District that share their innovative work and passion for music education.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit

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