Smith River School's band has received national recognition, which enabled them to enter a video contest showcasing the school's commitment to music.

Smith River School was one of 96 schools nationwide to receive the Support Music Merit Award from the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM. The school's zombie video, "Music Never Dies," was selected as the winner in NAMM's "What Makes Music Education Great in My School or District" contest. As a result, the band will participate in a national webcast and will host the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, music teacher Marshall Jones said.

"It has two recording studios and a video recording studio within the bus," Jones said. "It has all state-of-the-art equipment. We're going to record a music video professionally. The funders that backed the John Lennon bus include Apple and all of your high-tech industry (leaders)."

According to Smith River Principal Paige Swan, the school's award also designates the Smith River community as a "best community for music education." To qualify for the award, Swan and Jones had to complete a 10-page application that focused on the school's makeup and how many kids are involved in music.

Students often start learning their instruments in the school's beginning band in the fifth grade before progressing to the advanced band during their sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade years.

Out of the school's 102 students in sixth through eighth grades, 83 are in band, Swan said. The organization also took into consideration the number of English language learners who attend Smith River School and the economic makeup of the community,he said.

"We had to answer detailed questions about funding, music class participation, instructional time, faculty support and other factors that affect music education for all students," Swan said.

"There are about 2,000 people that apply for this recognition yearly," Jones added.

Smith River Band's award comes after it kicked off a communitywide instrument drive in January. Jones said he mentioned the school's "Let the Music Play" campaign to NAMM, which probably also factored into the school's award. The band will conduct another instrument drive next year, Jones said. The band will also have a string section next year with eight violinists, he said.

In addition to community support, NAMM also likely took into consideration the performance opportunities Smith River students have, Swan said. The band performs in several local parades, including Eureka's Rhododendron Parade, as well as at the annual Instrumental Festival, which is hosted by the North Coast Section of the California Association for Music Education at Humboldt State University.

"What this does for us now is it now means that Smith River School is recognized nationally for its commitment to music education," Swan said. "It also means that Smith River School ranks among the nation's top schools for support of music


The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus will be in Smith River Jan. 29andndash;30,2015, and will coincide with the school's national webcast, which will be used to promote music education, Jones said. To view the school's video "Music Never Dies," click on Smith River School from the "school information" drop-down menu at the top.

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