When advocating for music education, please consider the following:
Student-Focused – Keep the needs of students central to any advocacy discussion, and use only student-centered statements to this end. Help decision makers focus on how policies impact children, first and foremost.
Language Choices – Carefully examine your word choices and vocabulary as they relate to music education. Use professional and academic language when advocating for music education, whether writing to or speaking with administrators, school board members, parents, colleagues, or students. Resist the urge to refer to work, classrooms, performances, and curriculum as belonging to you (e.g., my room, my band, etc).
Statement of Purpose – Develop a concise classroom or departmental mission/vision statement that honors a comprehensive, standards-based, and thoughtfully-designed music curriculum as part of a well-rounded education for all students. Display, post, and share this document with anyone who visits the classroom in person or virtually. Music is a serious study, and decision makers must be encouraged to see this work in the same way they see work in other disciplines.
Research and Data – Decision makers often use research and data to justify budget and staffing decisions. Share pertinent information that supports the value of music education for all students. Consider using the number of students, class size, and scheduling of classes and teachers within the district, other disciplines, county, and/or state to show what is necessary to provide and support strong music offerings for all students. Good research and data can also inform decisions about curriculum.
Communication – Communicate regularly with students, parents, administration, government officials, community leaders, and colleagues who are engaged in supporting arts education for all students. Using email and communication platforms, strive to make communications concise, engaging, well-placed, and positive in tone.
Classroom Invitations – There are many ways to share innovative teaching and student learning in music with others in the school community. Invite people into the music classroom, rehearsals, concerts, and special happenings, including guest presentations. Initiate school-wide events (e.g., fine arts days, festivals, etc) to put arts education at the center of the district goals. During supervisory visits, encourage administrators to actively participate in learning opportunities, rather than simply make written and verbal comments or observational comparisons.
Performance Settings – Music events, including concerts, can become a mass parent-teacher conference. Engage with audience members from the stage. Share information about the curriculum, student progress and achievements, future goals, and more. Put students at the center, letting them shine as conductors, composers, lecturers, performers, collaborators, audience members, organizers, coaches, visual artists, researchers, teachers, and improvisers. Remember that performances don’t only happen on a stage.
Community Engagement – Engage the community in music education. Reach out to local businesses, music merchants, service club members, financial sector workers, and community leaders, especially if their children are engaged in music study. Explore collaborative opportunities with local groups/artists, and investigate grants and scholarship opportunities with community members and stakeholders.
Local and State Legislators – Learn about and connect with local and state legislators (https://legis.wisconsin.gov), and encourage others in your school and community to do the same. Keep yourself apprised of these leaders’ actions related to education. Proactively communicate with legislators, encouraging them to support music education for all students, while also building positive relationships with these decision makers. Invite them to visit music classrooms to see the benefits of music education in person.