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Nashville to Reinvent Music Curriculum for City Schools

It's not hard to imagine why a city like Nashville would take a special interest in music education. And so news comes today from Mayor Karl Dean that the local school district in Music City USA is planning to rethink, and supercharge, its music education offerings. (Bias alert: Although my day job is as a journalist, my real passion is playing electric guitar in a rock and roll band.)

The district will offer new classes in songwriting and composition, rock and hip-hop performance, and technology-based music production, according to the announcement. The idea is to enhance traditional offerings while also seeking to better reflect "today's diverse musical landscape," the press release said. (Curiously, the release did not mention country music, though I have to imagine that will be part of the mix as well.)

The new initiative is dubbed Music Makes Us: The Nashville Music Education Project.

"Through 'Music Makes Us,' Music City will become the standard bearer of what music education can be and should be in public education," Mayor Dean said in the press release. "Our innovative curriculum will draw in students that may have felt left out in the past. Beginning at a young age, Metro students will be exposed to a wide array of musical styles and influences."

A story in the The Tennessean newspaper said the mayor has raised about $500,000 so far in private contributions to support the initiative, which will also get some public financing.

The city district is creating an Office of Music Education with a full-time director and staff. It will offer professional development and externship opportunities in the music industry for teachers. And students will get the chance to perform at many of the city's live venues.

"Nashville has the largest concentration of the music industry of any city in the United States," Dean said. "This is a tremendous, untapped resource for our public schools."

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