The Importance of Being a Music Education Advocate
Across the country, districts are reducing or eliminating music education programs. As a music educator, you know that music education programs in schools offer invaluable benefits for students including improved communication and leadership skills, heightened creativity, increased self-confidence and better academic outcomes. Learning music is an essential component for well-rounded students. The fight to keep music budgets and programs alive is a tough one, so it’s important for music teachers and educators to communicate the importance of music education and to take on the role of music education advocates.
Organize and Assess Your Connections
The first step is to organize your thoughts, assess your resources and craft a plan. Your students’ parents are probably the best group to start with when organizing yourself. Band and music parents are first-hand witnesses to the positive effects of music and know how important it is for their children to receive a high-quality education through and including music.
The other benefit to working with parent groups is: you never know who they know and what kind of connections they have. They may know someone in the news media or someone who has experience advocating for a good cause. Once you’ve got your parents involved, start to ask around to find out:
- Who is involved in various community groups?
- Does anyone have access to media connections?
- Who can be the liaison with school officials? Can they help monitor the school budget so you can have as much information as possible to advocate for music?
- Who is interested in working with local government members, schools board members or advocacy groups?
Decide on Your Priorities
Of course, the funding of music curriculum and related jobs will be at the top of your priority list. But, after assessing your resources and connections as noted above, you may have several task and priorities that emerge. Be sure to detail them and work with your parent group to decide exactly how you’ll approach your list.
Create Your Advocacy Approach
Get together with your support group of parents, other staff members and anyone else who will be helping with the advocacy for music education and your program. Come up with various ways to communicate, a timeline for your messaging and other ideas for pushing your advocacy actions into the public view. Some ideas could include:
- Think of ways to include school leaders and board members in your program, whether by inviting them to rehearsals, creatively integrating them into performances, or by including them during awards ceremonies
- Interact with local media sources to tout your program’s successes and the benefits of music education
- Ask parents and prominent community members to write letters to the editor supporting music education
- Ask your advocacy group members to attend school board meetings and bring up the importance of music education
There are also prominent music groups that can give you additional ideas plus great advocacy materials to use to get your message out. Check out NAfME’s advocacy page and NAMM’s advocacy page for brochures, booklets, additional tips, newsletters and more.
Be Clear with Your Message
Every action or communication needs to support your message. Don’t muddy the waters with multiple messages and priorities. Focus on your key advocacy message so school leaders, media associates and local government members are 100% clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s a good idea to use a variety of message styles and channels, but the central message itself should be consistent.
Use Your Passion
You know more than almost anyone else about how important music education is to your students. Your passion will come through in everything you do, which is why you’re an ideal leader to advocate for music. Whether you start small or begin with a bang, you’ll know you’re making a positive impact in the fight for keeping music alive in schools.