During a webinar last week, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, a think tank of arts educators, administrators and national arts leadership organizations, released the first update to national arts standards in 14 years. The National Core Arts Standards will help arts educators across the country provide the high-quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment required for student success. In the latest update, the Standards introduce grade-by-grade standards and implementation support materials to assist educators and schools to apply the new standards. The National Standards additionally place an increased focus on technology’s role in the class room, even introducing a fifth artistic discipline: media arts. Over 6,000 teachers and partners were involved in the review and editing process of the Core Arts Standards through several public review sessions. To view the new standards and learn how the standards will be adopted in your state, visit www.nationalartsstandards.org.
As many students begin their summer vacation this week, they are likely excited for sleeping in and a lack of school work. While you can argue either side of a structure-free summer or a summer of continued learning, the Des Plaines Parks Department in Illinois explains the music instruction is an excellent way to fight the "summer slide" and provide a fun, but structured and educational experience. "The skills learned through the discipline of studying a musical instrument will transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of the academic curriculum, especially math and reading," said the Des Plaines Parks Department in a Chicago Tribune Op-Ed. All shameless self-promotion aside, Music for All offers an incredible weeklong summer camp experience at the Summer Symposium later this month. Students can hone their skills in one of seven divisions June 23-28 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
This moving testament to the impact of music education was published by CNN last year, but is a powerful and timeless resource for music advocates. From proven classroom benefits to the creativity required for an entrepreneur like the author, Andrew Schwartz, this article provides numerous anecdotes that you could use yourself when advocating for music education. Personal reflections like this are integral, in addition to impactful stats and figures, to ensuring music's place in the core curriculum. If you have a personal reflection in how music impacted you, we'd love to hear it!
Last week, NAMM, MFA Strategic Advocacy Partner and the national trade association for music manufacturers and merchants, released instrument sales figures – and there is good news! The rise in instrument sales reflects support for school band and orchestra programs. “We note that while the economy affected many segments, school music held steady,” said Hal Leonard Vice President of Instrumental Publications Paul Lavender. Sales figures from NAMM provide a accurate portrait of the school band and orchestra climate, and continued music advocacy and awareness are important to the school music climate. All of us must actively advocate for school music to ensure that we continue this positive trend and increase access and opportunity to music making.
You may have noticed in my bio that in addition my passion for music education, I also have a strong interest Broadway theatre. That being said, I'll take any opportunity to combine my passion for music education and advocacy with Broadway, and last night's Tony Awards are a perfect place to start. This year's Awards included a special performance featuring Carole King and an interesting-but-slighty-awkward performance of "Rock Island" from The Music Man reimagined as a hip-hop rap. But, my favorite part of the awards is the acceptance speeches. Some may bring you to tears, though many are sure to thank the many teachers who inspired them. Neil Patrick Harris' speech closed with: "I would just like to say thank you to the people who inspire us creatively, like teachers... These are teachers in small town New Mexico who when sports was the only option, showed that creativity had a place in the world. Without them I would never be able to do any of this. So thank you so much!" Additionally, the Tony Awards announced a new collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University that will help recognize theatre educators making a difference across the country and build the next audience of theatre goers and theatre makers!