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An Advocacy Repost from SoundTree

Posted on 24 December 2009 by

21st Century Music Education Advocacy

Author: Stefani Langol
About Author: Assistant Professor, Music Education – Berklee College of Music
Use: General Music Skills
Type: Using Technology
Solution: Classroom Technology, Music Education

In these times of unprecedented financial instability, it’s more important than ever to have strong, visibly active, and well-organized music education advocacy groups that will support and defend the arts in our schools. Parents, teachers, and administrators need to be armed with resources and information that will help bolster commitment to a well-rounded curriculum that provides all students with the opportunity to unleash their creativity as well as develop their intellect. In an open letter to school and community education leaders written in August 2009 (, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan espouses the importance of arts-based education. In it he writes:

At this time when you are making critical and far-reaching budget and program decisions for the upcoming school year, I write to bring to your attention the importance of the arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) defines the arts as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in children’s development and learning process.

While it is imperative that high-ranking government officials recognize and embrace the arts as a crucial curricular component in educating the whole child, it does not change the reality of music programs across the country being crushed under the weight of draconian budget cuts, entrenched testing requirements, and scheduling complications. Our role as music educator must be juxtaposed with being a highly visible, proactive, grass roots organizer. We must be able to communicate effectively in order to leverage parental, and local and statewide community support that is needed to not only sustain, but also enable our music programs to thrive.

What tools and resources do we have at our disposal that will infuse our collective voice with qualitative research and support information? There are several organizations and coalitions dedicated to music advocacy, some of which SoundTree plays a vital role in promoting and supporting.  While some of the organizations in the following list are obvious and prominent voices in music education advocacy, I hope this list, albeit brief, will serve as a reminder of the importance of our membership dollars in helping to sustain their outreach and influence in the political sphere.  These websites are filled with information intended to help guide and support music educators, parents, school administrators, and local, state, and federal legislature arts advocacy efforts.

MENC’s powerful lobbying efforts have helped shaped arts-based education goals and standards on state and national levels for many years. MENC is currently working in conjunction with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills to develop a 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts based on other maps that have already been established for other subject areas. “The entire arts education community is invited to review and provide comments on this draft of the 21st Century Skills Arts Map. All comments must be submitted through, which contains a survey designed to enable the entire project team to review all of the comments. The review and comment period will end on Friday, December 11, 2009.” Go to MENC’s website for more details. Let your voice be heard.

NAMM is the largest industry supporter of music education and provides ongoing representation in Washington, D.C. on issues that impact music education and education reform legislation and funding. Once again the NAMM Foundation is inviting all K-12 and Higher Education music educators to attend the third annual “Music Education Days” event during the January 14-17, 2010 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. “The music industry honors the remarkable contribution that music teachers make every day to the lives of their students; our invitation to music educators to be our guests at the NAMM Show is but one way we would like to say THANK YOU!!”

Support Music
Support Music is a national effort spearheaded by MENC and NAMM. “Each month the SupportMusic Coalition holds a teleconference to share current advocacy actions and ideas from communities and schools nationally and abroad.” Following his August 2009 letter, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan participated in the August 18th SupportMusic teleconference where he affirmed the importance of parents in ensuring arts education.

VH1 Save the Music
The VH1 Save The Music Foundation works with school districts all over America. They provide resources and tools for music teachers and administrators to use in their school music programs. “The VH1 Save The Music Foundation Advocacy Toolkit is a place where community members, teachers, and administrators can come to find the resources they need to keep music education strong in their community.”

“The American Music Conference is a national non-profit educational association founded in 1947. AMC is dedicated to promoting the importance of music, music-making and music education to the general public. AMC’s goal is to build credibility for music and music education, especially at an early age, and to expand that portion of the population that enjoys and makes its own music.”

Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education
“The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) is a coalition of statewide non-profit Alliances for Arts Education working in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to support policies, practices, programs, and partnerships that ensure the arts are an essential part of American K-12 education.”

Americans for the Arts
“Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With 45 years of service, we are dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.” Americans for the Arts is focused on three principal goals:
1.    Fostering an environment in which the arts can thrive and contribute to the creation of more livable communities.
2.    Generating more public- and private-sector resources for the arts and arts education.
3.    Building individual appreciation of the value of the arts.

Arts Education Partnership
“The Arts Education Partnership’s mission is to demonstrate and promote the essential role of the arts in enabling every student to succeed in school, life and work in the diverse and global economies and societies of the 21st century.”

Along with national organizations there are also myriad private individuals and companies that offer insightful perspectives on the importance of music education. The following are just a few examples of the strong impact arts education has had on these individuals and their commitment to a strong music and arts education for all in America.

La Dolce Vita Enterprises
Craig Cortello is the owner of La Dolce Vita Enterprises and the author of “Everything We Learned About Business We Learned Playing Music.” His primary objective for writing the book was “to positively impact music education by providing a unique advocacy tool.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
In 2007, Former Governor Mike Huckabee was presented with the Music for Life Award by NAMM for his commitment to music education. On Sept. 18, 2009, the NAMM Foundation announced the launching of the Wanna Play Fund ( in which Huckabee will be the national spokesperson.

A Missing Piece in the Economic Stimulus: Hobbling Arts Hobbles Innovation
Psychology Today is host to a blog entitled “Imagine That!” written by authors and educators Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein. This above link takes you to their February 11, 2009 blog entry. If you are interested in sharing their perspective with others, the authors state they are happy to send copies to individuals who send their addresses to or

As always, we have a lot to do. I hope the informational support, guidance, and expert resources you find at these websites will help you navigate the challenges of the current financial and political climate and serve to energize your own grass roots campaign.


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