“From these considerations therefore it is plain that music has the power of producing a certain effect on the ethos of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it.” – Aristotle

Why the Need for Advocacy?

As teachers or future teachers we are all familiar with terms such as PSSA’s, Standardized Testing, No Child Left Behind, and Adequate Yearly Progress. Since there is such a strong push for standardized testing in today’s educational system, and music is not a tested subject, it often gets pushed to the side or even worse gets cut all together. As music educators we know the extreme importance of music education in schools so it is our duty and responsibility to begin being proactive and start advocating.  Even as undergraduates it is never too early to being advocating. We are going to have to deal with this issue of advocacy first-hand when we begin teaching so we should be learning about all the resources available to help advocate the importance of music education in schools now. As music educators we can’t just sit back and wait for other people to advocate for us. It is our job to advocate and show the necessity of music education. In a perfect world there would be no need for advocacy, but as we all know we are not in a perfect world so there is an extremely high need for music education advocacy. Advocacy has always been important and necessary, but I believe that with the state of today’s educational system is more necessary than ever before. Below are some websites and videos that music educators can use to help advocate the necessity of music education.

Advocacy Websites:

  1. MENC Advocacy PageThis is a great page filled with advocacy resources. MENC offers plenty of resources for music educators to help them advocate for music education. There are plenty of letters, posters, brochures etc. that can help us as music educators show why music education in schools is absolutely necessary.
  2. VH1 Save the MusicVH1 does a great service to music through their Save the Music Program. This page has a ton of resources for music educators including an advocacy toolkit, research about music education, how to be proactive instead of reactive, and 25 advocacy suggestions for teachers and community members.
  3. Support MusicA great advocacy resource by NAMM and MENC. Provides tools such as posters and brochures to help gain support for music education. Also includes some resources on retention and how to keep students in our ensembles, which is a part of advocacy.
  4. Music Education Online A great resource from the Children’s Music Workshop. Full of statistics, quotes, and an entire archive of great music education advocacy articles. These articles are great for showing administrators, school boards, parents, and community members when trying to advocate for music education in schools.
  5. School Music MattersA great resource center for music education advocacy. Includes facts and quotations about the importance of music education. Also includes many links to many other great music education advocacy sites.

Advocacy Videos

1. Why Music Matters- Jack Stamp

2. Teach Music and You Won’t Have to Sell it- Frank Battisti

3. Art and Music Education- Mike Huckabee

4. The Case for Music Education

5. Music Advocacy

Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late

Advocacy is something that we need to start putting more effort into before it is too late. Once music programs are cut or being phased away it is too late. Unfortunately once a program begins to diminish it is very hard to restore it to its original state. I have heard many music educators say “I will begin advocating when I see the need for it.” As I said unfortunately this is when it is already too late. We need to begin advocating now and be proactive in what we do. Even as music education undergraduates we can help advocate for music education and show why it is important and should be included in all schools. When advocating for music education it is crucial that we show why we are advocating. We are not advocating for music education to secure our jobs, but instead we are advocating because music is important and can make a difference in students lives. All students need to be exposed to music and it is our job as music educators to show why this is true. We know the importance and necessity of music education, so now it  is up to us to show this importance to the ones who are in charge of our schools, who are often the ones who don’t realize the importance of music education.

Taking the Next Step

Many times as music educators we are advocating to other music educators, but the problem is we already get it!! If we continually advocate to other music educators we are not going to see much of a difference. We must advocate to those that do not yet see the importance of music education. Now, it is our job to take advocacy a step further and begin advocating to those who don’t get it such as parents, community members, other teachers, administration, school boards, businessmen, governments etc. These are the people that we need to be advocating too so that music is not cut in our schools. I believe that it is crucial for us to being advocating outside of our circles and make everyone else aware of the importance of music education.

Ideas for Advocating Beyond Music Educators

  1. Advocate to other teachers-we need to get the other non-music teachers in our school on board and show them the importance of music education. One way to do this could be by showing them how music is cross-curricular. I believe getting other teachers on board is one of the first steps to successful advocacy.
  2. Have an Honor’s Group Play for the State Government– Many festival groups are composed of schools from all over the state so why not have them perform for the state. This one performance could have a huge impact on state legislators.
  3. Perform at School Board Meetings-Have a small ensemble or group of students perform at every school board meeting. This shows the school board that your students are active. Also you could have some of your students share what music has done for them or why it is important to them. This is another easy way to begin advocating for music education.
  4. Engage the Parents- It is crucial to involve your students parents and to get their support from the beginning. Concerts or other events can be a great teachable opportunity. These events are great places to show the parents and remind them and the community of the importance of music education in our schools.
  5. Music In Our Schools Month- March is quickly approaching and it is Music In Our Schools Month. This is a great time to begin advocating and show the importance of music education. Check out the MENC MIOSM page for ideas on activities you can do to help support the arts and music in schools.

Starting now we need to take music education advocacy a step further and begin advocating to those outside of music education. Instead of preaching to the choir and advocating to those that already know the importance of music education we need to be advocating to those that run our schools and do not yet get or see the importance of all students receiving music education in our schools.