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SmartMusic Program Announcement

Arts Council Napa Valley Brokers a Deal to Bring Online Music Program to NVUSD Music Students Learning at Home

Klayton Deckman, Redwood Middle School, 7th grade
Practicing trombone at the park

The Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance is pleased to announce a public/private partnership to fund an online digital music program to enhance at-home learning experiences for Napa Valley Unified Middle School instrumental and vocal music Students. The program, SmartMusic, allows teachers to assign individual exercises specific to instruments (breathing and mouth techniques) and opportunities for students to play or sing (Karaoke style) with professional ensembles and vocal groups online. 

Retired NVUSD Music Teacher and ACNVEA Board Member, William Gantt, lobbied strongly to bring the program to the district, knowing teachers needed a robust online program to continue music instruction virtually. “There isn’t enough time in the day for our music teachers to do what this program offers,” he said. Once the five middle-school music teachers vetted the program, Gantt secured funding from the ACNV board and two other education nonprofits. Debi Leal Notes For Education Co-Founder said, “This is an excellent way to maintain instrument instruction with the students as we bridge this gap between in-Person and distant Learning.” The Napa Valley Education Foundation diverted funding that would have typically paid for equipment for 4th- grade students who will not be learning music with instruments this year. Kristen Anderson, Director of Programs, said, “It was a no-brainer. This was just the right thing to do to support our students. We are committed to doing whatever necessary to ensure our music students continue learning and growing from home.” The Napa Valley Community Foundation has also committed a significant grant to support this program. Approximately seven hundred students will receive subscriptions to the program, which costs about $10 per person. 

Music teachers, who were struggling to figure out how to meet individual students’ needs who were not in the room, are universally pleased with the program. Alan U’ren, Redwood Middle School, said, “I have been so stressed about what I’m going to do this year. Now I have a usable and legitimate instrumental tool that is tailored to individuals.” Nick Burdick, Harvest and River Middle Schools, echoed his enthusiasm, “This is an excellent tool for the moment.” 

Students will continue to have access to the program to practice from home when in-person learning resumes. NVUSD is currently searching for funding to expand the use to high school music students.