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First lady celebrates music in North Carolina schools

Following Governor Roy Cooper’s declaration of March as Music in Our Schools Month, First Lady Kristin Cooper attended performances by a number of North Carolina student musical groups at the state’s capitol Friday. 

She touted the benefits of music for helping students learn, but also noted a personal connection. 

“Music is a big part of our family life,” she said. “All of our children sang and enjoyed music education in school.” 

Right after hearing a performance by the group aCAPella — out of Broughton High School in Wake County — she also pointed out that her youngest daughter had actually been a member of that very same group. 

In a press release, Governor Cooper said that music is essential for students.

“Music education shapes our children’s understanding of themselves and the world,” he said. “Through music, students develop skills including collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity that can help them succeed in school and in life.”

At the event Friday, the First Lady also discussed the important influence of music on students’ brains.

“There is scientific evidence that music actually helps your brain develop. Helps you with learning, it helps you perform better in school, as well as just enriching your spirit,” she said. 

Ashley Perkinson, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Music Educators Association, said the proclamation of Music in Our Schools Month was particularly apropos given the recent discussion around the General Assembly’s class-size mandates. Districts were initially worried that legislative class-size mandates would leave them without money needed for enhancement teachers such as physical education, art, and music teachers. A deal hashed out during a recent special session phased in implementation of the class-size limitations and appropriated extra funds for enhancement teachers. 

“This is a perfect time, because in seeing our elected officials come together and show their support and appreciation for our enhancement teachers, and in particular our music educators, it’s a great way to celebrate support both from the policy end and also just the support we see in our community,” Perkinson said. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.