Arto Asadoorian, the director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Belmont Public Schools, said that he's been contacted on several occasions by people moving to the Boston area and who were looking for a community to purchase or rent a home.
Asadoorian said they were interested in learning about Belmont's music programs because they were using music as a measuring stick for a community’s support for public education: if a town was passionate about providing their children with high quality music education, then they could assume that there was also a high level of excellence in all other academic areas.
"In one case in particular there was a family from Cincinnati choosing a place to live based upon the music program, and their children had never even been involved in a performing group in their previous school," said Asadoorian.
"They just really believed that you could use the music programs as a sort of barometer for the overall quality of a school district, and that was how they were going to choose the community they wanted to live in," he said.
While many school systems over the past 20 years have cut music and art from their programs, the Belmont School District has made the arts a significant part of the school day, resulting in a great array of instrumental and vocal performing groups and soloists in all grade levels that have gone to distinguish themselves in area, state and regional competitions.
Belmont's continual dedication to the arts was honored on Monday when the NAMM Foundation named Belmont one of the Best Communities for Music Education in the nation.
The Best Communities designation recognizes collaborative, from-the-ground-up efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents who continually work to keep comprehensive music education as an integral part of the core curriculum.
"It is a measure of the outstanding opportunities we offer our students in music, the high standards maintained by our educators, and the strong commitment our community has made to our music programs," said Asadoorian.
Out of more than 2,000 school districts to apply for this honor, the NAMM Foundation selected 307 as the Best Communities for Music Education. Belmont finds itself in good company along with nine other Massachusetts districts that earned Best Communities designation; Chelmsford, Duxbury, Lynn, Randolph, Wayland, Westborough and Weston, and two districts that earned Support Music Honor Awards; Bristol-Fall River and Lexington.
"The commitment that Belmont has made to providing a high-quality music education for all children speaks to the community’s values and overall dedication to excellence in education," said Asadoorian.
"By continuing to make music and arts education a priority in our schools we not only develop in our students the critical thinking skills to help them be successful in life, but to live their lives more passionately. The students, educators, parents and members of the Belmont community should be congratulated for making such a strong commitment to music in our schools, and for setting an outstanding example for communities across the country," said Asadoorian.