HUDSON — The Hudson School District was recognized as a Best Community for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants, the 12th time the district has received the award in the last 16 years.

The honor recognizes districts based on music education funding, participation, standard, community, facilities and more.

“It truly is, as the title says, a wide-based community award,” Director of Teaching and Learning Sandi Kovatch said.

Middle school music teacher LeAnn Stein filled out the about 135-question survey that looks at teacher education level, music education spaces, performance space access, budget and more.

The survey also looks at the different opportunities students have access to in the wider community, such as The Phipps in Hudson and the activities at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

“All of those things that we have so much access to, enhance what we’re doing at the school center,” Stein said.

The association gives the opportunity to apply as an individual school or as a community, and Stein said applying as a community better represents the support the district receives from the wider community. They’re grateful to the entire community for its support, Kovatch said.

Hudson has a high percentage of students involved in music groups at the secondary level, such as band, choir or orchestra, that are not required. The fine arts staff also contributes to the recognition of the programs, Kovatch said.

“They’re outstanding musicians themselves and they pass on that passion to their students,” she said.

That passion is seen now as schools are closed during the pandemic, Stein said, with the effort staff is putting in for their students with distance learning.

The district has continued to support music education, during times when other districts were pulling back or cutting programs. In her 19 years with Hudson, Stein said she doesn’t believe there's been a reduction.

“It’s a music teacher’s dream,” Stein said of working in the district.

“Most educators truly believe in the whole child and the impact that the arts, not just music, but the arts have on student learning,” Kovatch said.

Music education is often a team effort, in a way that education is not.

“If you’ve got a class of 30 students taking a math test, it doesn’t matter what student A gets, student B gets,” Stein said. “If you have 30 students that all have to sing the same pitch and two of the students are clearly not there, it affects the whole group immediately.”

With music education, students grow and participate together, she said.