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Standards Help Keep the Beat during Music in Our Schools Month

Quality Arts Education Promotes Innovation and Success

New York, Mar 28, 2011

According to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical to young Americans competing in a global economy.” In fact, a study done at the University of California, Irvine, found that music training for children, specifically piano instruction, is far superior to computer instruction in significantly increasing the abstract reasoning skills necessary for learning math and science.

As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthening America’s workforce through quality education programs, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is pleased to recognize the nationwide celebration of Music in Our Schools Month. Every March the National Association for Music Education (MENC) launches this campaign to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of high-quality music education programs in our nation’s schools. And standards are star performers in assuring that the modern equipment and systems used in those programs enable the sweetest of sounds.

While your average classroom or school auditorium may not have much in common with Carnegie Hall, a set of recently published American National Standards (ANS) from ANSI-accredited standards developer the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) helps schools establish the best acoustical environment possible.

ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010, Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 1: Permanent Schools, and ANSI/ASA S12.60-2009, Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 2: Relocatable Classroom Factors, establish acoustical performance criteria and design requirements for both permanent and relocatable classrooms and learning spaces. ASA has enlisted sponsorship support from Armstrong Ceiling Systems, Trane, and Owens Corning to enable free download of these documents to educational institutions and other interested stakeholders.

These days, more and more kids want their musical instruments to be of the electrical variety – whether it’s pianos, guitars, drums, or even violins. A standard from ANSI audited designator Underwriters Laboratories helps aspiring Stevie Wonders plug in without peril.

UL 469 (Ed. 4), Standard for Musical Instruments and Accessories, sets requirements for power-operated musical instruments and accessories rated 300 volts or less for household and commercial use in accordance with the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70. These instruments include organs, electronic pianos, music synthesizers, and other products that produce music under the direct control of the player. The requirements also cover accessories such as rhythm generators and similar equipment having self-contained tone generators, tone cabinets, and music tuners.

Once the electric maestros have mastered their instruments, they’ll be ready to hit the stage for a battle of the bands. But who can hear that lovely little Glee-wannabe over the electrical cacophony? Sensitive microphones are a key element of a quality musical performance.

A standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), IEC 60268-4 Ed. 4.0 en:2010, Sound system equipment - Part 4: Microphones, specifies methods of measurement for the electrical impedance, sensitivity, directional response pattern, dynamic range, and external influences of sound system microphones, and details the characteristics to be specified by the manufacturer. The international standard was developed by IEC Technical Committee (TC) TC 100, Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment.

ANSI is the U.S. member body to the IEC through the U.S. National Committee (USNC). The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, serves as the USNC-approved TAG Administrator to TC 100, carrying U.S. positions forward to the Committee.

With the help of standards and good old-fashioned practice, American students can expand their minds and their horizons through the beauty of music. And the next time someone asks you the classic question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” give them an innovative answer: Standards, standards, standards!

The Case for Music and Student Achievement

  • Researchers at the University of Munster in Germany discovered that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain.

  • A University of Illinois study showed that one exposed group of rats housed in an environment containing music had 25% more connections among their brain cells.

  • The journal Neurological Research reported findings that music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning.

  • An article in Nature magazine detailed findings that that people with music training have better verbal memory, and that early training in music and the arts can improve kindergartner's test scores in reading and math.

  • A University of North Texas study showed that music students study more effectively and abuse alcohol less.

For more data on the music-brain connection, click here.

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