Planning For The Next Phase Of Music Makes Us® In Music City

An in-depth needs analysis helps Nashville partners bring high-quality music instruction to scale.

Almost 100 years ago, a radio broadcast called the Grand Ole Opry helped establish Nashville’s reputation as a musical center and led to its moniker, Music City. In 2011, an impressive set of Nashville-based partners launched the Music Makes Us® initiative. The partners include:  

  • Metro Nashville Public Schools
  • Metro City Council
  • Mayor’s Office
  • Nashville Public Education Foundation
  • City and community leaders
  • The entire local music community

The vision of the Music Makes Us® initiative is for all district students to participate in high-quality, standards-based, sequential music instruction. This instruction is to be taught by highly qualified music educators, and enhanced by a network of music professionals and community-based organizations from Nashville and beyond.

Assessing the State of Music Education

The Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation has provided funding for Music Makes Us® for more than a decade.  The Foundation commissioned a needs assessment study to help inform the development of the next phase of the Music Makes Us® strategic plan.  The CMA Foundation selected Metis Associates and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a national nonprofit that provides music education resources and services, to join forces on the needs assessment.

Metis and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation collaborated with the school district, the Public Education Foundation, and CMA Foundation to:

  • Develop the appropriate tools, including a districtwide music teacher survey and a principal needs assessment survey
  • Collect and analyze the data
  • Communicate the results
  • Assist with the strategic planning based on data findings

The districtwide needs assessment was timely. The district had recently brought on new staff to oversee Music Makes Us®. It had also freshly launched a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) initiative in its middle schools. Moreover, after completing over a decade of partnership, the CMA Foundation was seeking data-based guidance in how best to target future funding to address the district’s music education needs.

Results Point the Way Forward for Music Makes Us®

Data from the year-long study helped the CMA Foundation and the school district to identify several salient issues to focus on in the next phase of strategic planning:

  • The amount of music instruction provided to students
  • Equity of access to music content courses
  • Distribution of resources across school clusters and schools
  • The preparation of music instruction staff and their professional development needs 

The district and the CMA Foundation have begun using the results of the needs assessment in their collaborative strategic planning effort.