News Releases » MPUSD Music Education Program Receives National Recognition Third Year in a Row

MPUSD Music Education Program Receives National Recognition Third Year in a Row

LogoApril 12, 2022


Marci McFadden, Chief of Communications & Engagement



MPUSD Music Education Program Receives National Recognition Third Year in a Row


Monterey, CA – The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is one of 738 school districts in the nation that has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This is the third year in a row that MPUSD has received this honor. Now in its 23rd 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, MPUSD 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.


“Visual and performing arts are extremely important to our students,” said Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. “Research shows that music enhances student learning and engagement. The NAMM Foundation honors the commitment we have made over the past eight years to our music education program.”

Music is offered at every grade level in MPUSD with instrumental music expanded at the elementary level.

  • Students in 1st through 5th grades have weekly music classes, year round and perform for full school events at least twice a year. 
  • In 5th and 6th grades, instrumental lessons are available to those who are interested. Instruments taught include flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, baritone, violin, cello, and guitar.
  • Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten are offered a music program that includes singing and movements to songs about seasons, places and feelings. 
  • An after school musical occurs at elementary and middle schools and is open to all students in grades 1st and up. 


The district is home to two Turnaround Arts schools - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts and Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy. Through the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Turnaround Arts program instills high-quality and integrated arts instruction to strengthen school reform, boost academic achievement and increase student engagement. Jackson Browne has adopted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts and DJ IZ has adopted Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy. Both artists visit and support the school’s music program.

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education. 

“At MPUSD educating the whole child is encouraged. The need to express oneself, especially after this extended period of isolation, is uniquely addressed with the arts. Music and theatre provide a structured way to reconnect with other students. In this way we can easily say that the arts are key to healing our community,” said Jaqui Hope, Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

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.

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About Monterey Peninsula Unified School District


The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is home to approximately 9,600 students in grades transitional kindergarten through 12th grade. The district also houses preschool and adult education. The district is built on a solid foundation of effective instruction, positive school culture, systems of support, and collaborative leadership. The district is nestled along the Monterey Bay, and stretches from the city of Marina to the north to the city of Monterey to the south, and encompasses the communities of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Sand City and Seaside.

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 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