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Music Advocacy: We Can Make a Difference

by Tim Lautzenheiser

Over the last decade, much attention has been focused on MUSIC ADVOCACY. Breakthrough research continues to point to “the study of music” as a key factor in the positive growth and development of EVERY young person. The music education community (through MENC), the music industry (through NAMM and the American Music Conference), and the music recording culture (NARAS) have joined hands to further the exploration of the benefits of music-making; from it we have harvested a rich crop of compelling data supporting what we have intuitively suspected all along: music makes the difference.

Unfortunately this priceless information has no value unless it reaches its target audience; parents, administrators, community leaders, and students. As music educators we must take an active role in the dissemination of this vitally important data, otherwise we are right back to square one in our efforts to inform and educate the decision-makers in our schools and communities.

Too often we do not take an active role in music advocacy because there is no threat to our local school music program. Complacency can lull us into a state of contentment/denial that is certain to unknowingly become our Achilles’ heel. Then, when the predictable cutbacks begin and music becomes a target for the sharpened budgetary pencil, we (in desperation) turn to music advocacy as the save-all answer to the present predicament. By then, it is too little, too late. At best, it is a quick fix, and (most certainly) one that will not last.

Music advocacy must be an ongoing process. Rather than thinking of it as a way to “justify music in our schools,” it must be seen as an avenue of ongoing communication with present music-makers, potential music-makers, music supporters, fellow-faculty members, administrators, and ALL parents. We must inform everyone of the benefits of music-making as it relates to every aspect of life. For those who have strong music programs, it serves as an affirmative reminder of the strength music offers to the entire curriculum. For those who are involved with a music program in the growth-mode, the advocacy information is certain to awaken an enthusiasm that can initiate a new consciousness about the importance of a quality music curriculum in every school.

Over the past several years I have enjoyed the opportunity to present many music advocacy workshops throughout the nation, supported by Conn-Selmer and the The International Music Products Association (NAMM). The audiences reflect a mix of; parents, community representatives, curriculum personnel, administrators, students, and even professional musicians. Simply put:

  • Parents care deeply about the educational welfare of their children, and they want their sons and daughters to be properly prepared for the tomorrow’s world. When they understand how the study of music impacts the total learning experience, they are ready-and-willing to jump on the music education bandwagon.
  • Secondly, every administrator is dedicated to creating a school-of-distinction that will serve ALL students by offering an outstanding curriculum. Administrators make choices based on “what they know.” We must make certain we bring the latest information to their attention so they have the necessary data to support their decision-making.
  • Community leaders are keenly aware of the necessity of the importance of “schools of excellence” as a foundation block of every prosperous community; they know the local school system is vital cornerstone to ensure a thriving future.

When we raise the awareness of people about, they willingly listen, participate, and take action in support of music in our schools. When we “assume” they understand, we are risking the educational future of many students who are at the effect of the established class requisites.

We all have a responsibility to “share the good news.” If you have not been involved with music advocacy, do it NOW. If you are actively incorporating music advocacy as part your program, continue to discover new ways to get to more people, we are only limited by our imagination. We CAN make a difference!

Please post your Music Advocacy questions and comments on the Discussion Board

For further information on music education advocacy see:
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