First Lady Michelle Obama, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the U.S. Department of Education, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and a number of top performers and artists will participate in a series of events this week to showcase the importance of arts and music education to student achievement.

The events will spotlight the Turnaround Arts initiative, a successful PCAH pilot program to help turn around low-performing schools, narrow the achievement gap, and increase student engagement through the arts.

In May 2012, the President’s Committee, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, launched the Turnaround Arts initiative as a pilot program in eight “turnaround schools” across the country—public schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that are receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Over the last two years, the Turnaround Arts initiative has brought intensive arts education resources and expertise into the pilot schools and worked with school leadership to make the arts a pillar of their reform strategy. Interim evaluation results show that participating schools are demonstrating improved academic performance, increased student and parent engagement and improved culture and climate.

On Monday, May 19, NAMM will bring House of Payne’s Doc Shaw, Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith, former New York Yankee and guitar player Bernie Williams, award-winning folk duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, GRAMMY nominated music educator and guitarist Glen McCarthy, drummer Bob Bloom and music industry leaders to Savoy Elementary in Washington, D.C. for a Music Learning Festival. Third, fourth and fifth graders will have the opportunity to play guitar, drums and ukulele with the visiting musicians. Savoy Elementary is one of the eight schools participating in the national Turnaround Arts pilot program.

On Tuesday, May 20, First Lady Michelle Obama will host students from Turnaround Arts schools across the nation and renowned performers and artists at the first-ever White House talent show. Students will perform and showcase their work at the White House, joined by the Turnaround Artists who have been volunteering with their schools to support their arts education. Artists participating in Tuesday’s White House event include Sarah Jessica Parker, Chuck Close, John Lloyd Young, Damian Woetzel, George Wolfe, Alfre Woodard, Troy Andrews (Trombone Shorty), Cristina Pato, Shane Shanahan and Kojiro Umezaki. Artists in attendance include Kerry James Marshall, Kal Penn, Frank Gehry, Clarence Greenwood (Citizen Cope), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Doc Shaw and Chad Smith.

On Tuesday evening, NAMM Foundation is hosting a “Celebrating Music Education” reception and dinner at the Library of Congress honoring the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, Turnaround Arts and Kent Knappenberger, recipient of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Music Educator Award. Prior to the dinner, which will feature performers, artists, members of the President’s Committee, NAMM members and other arts organizations, there will be a red carpet photo opportunity. Invited guests include Alfre Woodard, Chuck Close, Damian Woetzel, John Lloyd Young, Kerry James Marshall, Chad Smith, Clarence Greenwood, Doc Shaw, Bernie Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

On Wednesday, May 21, NAMM will join with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of the Congressional STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) caucus, and several musicians for a Capitol Hill briefing and press conference to highlight the state of music education and the legislative priorities currently needed to offer every child access to comprehensive music education.

Studies show that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPA/SAT scores, and demonstrate a 56 percent improvement in spatial-temporal IQ scores. They show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12, are more engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers, and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. These benefits are particularly pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

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