Our vision at Music for All places an emphasis on providing scholastic music education to every child across America, so its no surprise we found this National Association for Music Education article from Arizona music educator Ruth Argabright moving. Ms. Argabright, District Music Education Coordinator at Mesa Public Schools, imagines a public school system where all upper elementary students receive instrumental and vocal music education during the school day. Under Argabright's plan, the pull-out system would no longer be necessary, and all students would have access to quality music education. Argabright says, "The young people in our schools today will soon take our places in the work force and community. They should be provided with as many opportunities during their developmental years to help ensure that they become outstanding, productive citizens."
Just in the short history of "Fanfare," we have shared many moving commentaries on the impact of music and music education. While they collectively show the vast power of music, each also provides a slightly different angle that may change the view of a "non-believer." This Huffington Post commentary from Music Unites founder Michelle Edgar moved me, especially the story of Kwasi Enin, the New York student accepted to all eight Ivy League colleges. "I directly developed my capacity to think creatively around problems due to the infinite possibilities in music," said Enin, who studied viola, in an admissions essay. Enin will be attending Yale in the fall and plans to study medicine.
While in Washington, DC for Arts Advocacy Day, I had the opportunity to hear from U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, who is head of the Congressional STEAM Caucus and a fervent advocate for including the arts as a core component of education. Last week, Rep. Bonamici questioned Education Secretary Arne Duncan on arts education funding during a committee hearing. By consolidating several Department of Education programs, Rep. Bonamici spoke to ensure that funds would be available for arts programming through STEM funding. Rep. Bonamici is a wonderful advocate for arts education in the House and helped found the Congressional STEAM Caucus last year. You can watch a clip of the committee hearing below:
Performing at Carnegie Hall is quite an honor, especially for high school students. Not only did nearly 200 students from the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Department perform on one of America's most famous stages, but they also were led by legendary Broken Arrow alum Kristin Chenoweth in a rousing performance of the title song from "Oklahoma!." Local CBS affiliate provided in-depth coverage on the trip to New York, which even featured a slight hiccup: damaged and destroyed instruments from a car accident. Thanks to a Florida high school band and a music store that opened on Easter Sunday, the group was able to replace damaged instruments in time for the concert. Congratulations to Broken Arrow, and thank you to KOTV for some excellent music education news coverage! You can watch the feature below.
Growing up in Ohio, the often-criticized school levy funding program in the state was common practice for me. Every few years, administrators and teachers shifted focus from teaching students to appealing to voters for school levies and bond issues. Because of failed ballot initiatives, many schools in Ohio have faced serious budget issues that have eliminated or reduced busing, extra curricular activities and arts programs. After multiple levy failures for Medina City Schools, the district got creative in order to preserve its long tradition of musical excellence. Through a partnership with the Medina City Schools Foundation, students would receive elementary band and string instruction through an enrichment program funded entirely by private donations. This new enrichment program engages the local Akron Symphony Orchestra to provide instruction and master classes for more than 1,000 students who would not have received music instruction due to budget cuts. If your school is facing budget cuts, visit our Advocacy webpage for tools and resources to keep music in our schools.
Each year, the Grammy Foundation awards grants to support research in music. From music therapy to recording preservation, the Foundation supports a wide variety of initiatives that support music in America. Last week, the Grammy Foundation announced that more than $200,000 would be awarded to 15 recipients. The recipients include a University of California, Davis project to study memory retention through music for Alzheimer's patients and a University of Memphis study to examine the possible benefits of music training in strengthening the ear and preventing hearing loss. The Foundation also supported several organizations who are attempting to properly archive and preserve early recordings. Click here to view the entire list of 2014 grants. The video below displays a few of the research initiatives recognized last year by the Grammy Foundation.
Last week, we brought you a moving op-ed column from a Southern California Superintendent advocating for the support of arts education. This week, a superintendent in Northern California is making waves for a district long without an instrumental music program. Students from the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto received no formalized music instruction in middle school, and were then unable to join the band when they moved on to Menlo-Atherton High School. While students at the other eight school districts that feed into Menlo-Atherton participated in band in sixth through eighth grade, Ravenswood students were two years behind in music instruction. "I want to ensure that they get that option by offering music as part of our core program and when the students get to sixth grade, that we actually have a band program," said Superintendent Gloria Hernandez. Currently, Ravenswood partners with Music in the Schools, a local nonprofit to provide music instruction to students. Hernandez has also set aside $150,000 to provide instruments for students and begin a formalized instrumental music program at one middle school in the district.
Last year, 2013 MFA Summer Symposium faculty member Dr. John P. Lynch announced that he will be accepting a position at the University of Sydney, Australia. We wish Dr. Lynch the best and welcome the University of Georgia's newest Director of Bands, Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner, previously Director of Wind Ensembles at Cornell University. Dr. Turner is an advocate of the 21st century classroom, speaking frequently on technology in music education. She even became one of 8,000 beta testers of Google Glass last summer. The Cornell Daily Sun highlighted her experiences with Google Class in October and noted that Dr. Turner has used Google Glass to coach her conducting students more efficiently and even import scores into Google Glass so she does not need to look down at the podium while conducting. Dr. Turner and student Tyler Ehrlich are also researching other applications of Google Glass for music education. Below is an example of how Dr. Turner uses Google Glass in her conducting class.
While on the topic of technology, I came across a new iPhone commercial last night while watching television. The commercial (displayed below) begins with several musicians using the iPhone in different ways to perform a song, the Pixies' 1988 hit "Gigantic." While I have hundreds of apps on my phone for just about any function, I often forget how often I use my iPhone for music. Beyond just listening and identifying music, I have several metronome, tuner and recording apps to use when practicing. The Ohio State University Marching Band was also featured in a recent Apple commercial for their innovative work in learning drill via iPad. How do you use your smartphone or tablet for music performance and instruction? Educators - you can also learn more on utilizing the latest in technology for music education at the Directors' Academy, part of the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha.
Last week, MFA’s strategic advocacy partner, the NAMM Foundation, provided a $10,000 grant to Anaheim City School District (ACSD) in California to help implement comprehensive music instruction in the regular school day. After a 20-year absence of music education, the district serving 20,000 students began offering an orchestra program last year. “We are gearing up to return music to its rightful place in our public schools,” said ACSD Superintendent Dr. Linda Wagner. Through a partnership with the Orange County Symphony Orchestra, students will also have the opportunity to work with symphony musicians after school. The new music education program will be modeled after Nashville’s successful “Music Makes Us” initiative.
Public/private partnerships have long been popular in real estate, utilities and other local government operations, but have recently become a new way to promote music education. From Nashville's "Music Makes Us" initiative to this latest partnership in New York City, private partners realize the impact of music instruction on young students, and work with public schools to ensure that music education remains a core component. Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock have partnered with the NYC Department of Education in a $10 million investment to expand music education programs by 60,000 students and 600 schools through the Amp Up NYC initiative. This partnership in the country's largest school system foucses on modern music instruction, including jazz, rock, Latin and R&B music education. "In the world of music education, diverse musical experiences enrich kids' learning and their understanding of the world," said Paul King, executive director of the Office of Arts and Special Projects. If you know of any public/private music education partnerships in your community, we'd love to hear about them!
Each year, the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation provides grants to school music programs across the country for new and refurbished instruments. This year, North Miami Middle School in Florida received funding to support the fledgling program. The school, which struggles with poor socio-economic conditions and a 96% free and reduced lunch rate, has made a concerted effort to improve school conditions since 2008, and music has been an important factor in the upswing. In 2011, Jonathon De Leon and LaToya Harris began teaching music at North Miami Middle School, starting both a band and guitar class. They have recruited close to half the school's students to participate in the music program, leading to fewer behavioral issues and improved academics. Click here to read more about this inspiring story.
If you are a music educator, you know firsthand that having an administration who "gets it" and supports arts education in the district is a valuable asset. Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone published an op-ed this month in the community newspaper, which would have any arts educator excited to work in the county. Right away, Cirone dispells those who consider cutting arts and music education in budget crises: "The arts are not frills. They are essential elements of a complete education, and they often provide the very skills and motivation required for school and career success." The Superintendent oversees 20 school districts and two community colleges in Santa Barbara County, impacting 66,000 students. Thank you, Mr. Cirone for your unwavering support of arts education!
Indianapolis music store Paige's Music has long been a valuable partner for both the central Indiana community and Music for All. Paige's Music was recently featured on local CBS affiliate WISH-TV throughout the morning broadcast, taking a look inside the sales, rental and repair facilities in Indianapolis. For many years, Paige's Music, under the leadership of owner Mark Goff, has supported MFA's Indianapolis programs as the "Official Music Store." Any time a participating band has a repair issue at the Bands of America Grand National Championships, Paige's Repair Technicians are onsite at Lucas Oil Stadium to assist and provide loaner instruments. We are thankful for Paige's support of Music for All!
Because of small school sizes and the distance from arts resources, rural schools often face an uphill battle in providing quality music education. Growing up in a small, rural school district, I grew up with the struggles of instrument and private lesson availability. I am grateful to my parents for moving to a surburban community, which provided many more opportunities and resources as a high school music student. This article features Valley Middle/High School in Idaho, where a music program just resurfaced after many years without. Robbie Hanchey, music teacher in the 600-student district, said band students learn teamwork, dedication, how to listen and “taking something they’re not good at and cleaning it up," which translates to their other classes. Other schools in the area only provide music instruction from a part-time teacher to elementary students. For resources to promote music education in your rural school district, visit the Advocacy Resources section of our website.
Music for All's Strategic Advocacy Partner, NAMM, recently attended the National School Board Association (NSBA) Conference in New Orleans to promote music education in our nation's schools. The NAMM Foundation provided advocacy sessions, an open wind ensemble rehearsal and a culminating drum circle event for conference attendees April 5-7. "I see the wonderful things music education does for students. The value of music and the arts are paramount to a child’s success and well being," said former NSBA president Sonny Sovoie. Additionally, the NAMM Foundation hosted a SupportMusic Coalition webinar from the NSBA Conference, which featured experts in music education and advocacy, including administrators from Louisiana's St. Charles Parish Public Schools.
Music empowers all of us in different ways, but it is often theraputic. For many, like Edison H.S. senior Anthony Gonzales, music can be an escape from a challenging home life. A fifth grade teacher encouraged Anthony to join band and learn an instrument, and the rest is history. Anthony now plays seven instruments and wants to become a music educator himself. "That's the beauty of the instrument is you fill up with air, and you get this puffed-out chest, and you have to stand up tall, and it's really hard not to think highly of yourself when you have a puffed-out chest and you're all the way standing up straight," said Anthony. We wish Anthony the best of luck! You can view his story below.
South Texas school district and Bands of America participant McAllen Independent School District was recently designated as a 2014 Best Community for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation. Last week, the district held an awards ceremony that featured musicians from the Homer J. Morris Middle School Orchestra. According to district fine arts director Karen Herrera, 60% of the 5,700 middle schools in McAllen ISD are involved in music. “There’s a rich history of dedication to the fine arts in McAllen,” said Superintendent James Ponce. “This is important to our community.” Congratulations to McAllen ISD and the McAllen community for being named a Best Community for Music Education!
Just like many of us, famous musicians and artists got their start in a school music classroom. One of this year's most active artists, Pharrell Williams, is no different. The 41 year old, whose collaborations with Daft Punk and Robin Thicke earned him many honors at the GRAMMY Awards in Februrary, shared his story on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday. Pharrell was grateful to the many people in his life who inspired him to follow music: "My story is the average story, you know. It was filled with special people...What am I without them? Just try that for a second. Take all of my band teachers out of this. Where am I? I'm back in Virginia, doing something completely different." Click here for the full story, or watch a clip of the interview below.
Last week, David Aydelott and Kirk Clague were inducted into the 2014 Bandworld Legion of Honor. Each year, eight of the most influential band directors are recognized by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. The Bandworld Legion of Honor was established in 1989 and promotes dedication to high quality concert band programs. David Aydelott has served as Director of Bands at Franklin H.S. in Tennesee for seven years, receiving top local, state and national honors for his ensembles. The Franklin H.S. Wind Ensemble performed at Music for All's 2013 National Concert Band Festival and the Franklin H.S. Marching Band is a two-time Bands of America Regional Champion and Grand National Semi-Finalist. Kirk Clague has been the Director of Musical Activities at Exeter Union H.S. in California for the past 18 years. Clague and his ensembles have received numberous honors in both concert and jazz band. To learn more about the Bandworld Legion of Honor and its honorees, click here.
Last week, we told you about an upcoming Congressional briefing where the National Association for Music Education would be brining the "Broader Minded" campaign to Capitol Hill. The briefing was one of the first of its kind in nearly a decade and was led by Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH). NAfME President Nancy Ditmer and staff member Christopher Woodside both spoke at the briefing. You can view a summary and photos of the event here.
Each April, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History recognizes the impact of Jazz on American history and society through Jazz Appreciation Month. This year, Smithsonian is honoring John Coltrane throughout the month with special screenings at the National Museum of American History. In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, we hope you enjoy this playlist of jazz charts performed by our 2011 Jazz Band of America led by Shelly Berg and featuring Allen Vizzutti.
Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis recently spoke with the National Association for Music Education on the importance of music education in our nation's schools. Marsalis shares his own musical upbringing in a very musical family, as well as challenges faced in schools by music educations. In addition to being an incredible performer and composer, Marsalis leads the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which has provided him opportunities to lead music education intiatives and teach young jazz musicians. His eloquent words are an excellent resource to help make your case for music in our schools.
We at Music for All are advocates of including the arts in STEM education, creating STEAM. This post from blogger and educator Erin Galardi presents an excellent argument for music's importance in a STEM curriculum. Galardi is not a musician herself, but she recognizes the way that music instruction can improve important skills such as math, verbal memory and spacial-temporal awareness. She even provides opportunities for parents to provide music instruction in the home. This perspective on music education and STEM is a great resource when advocating to non-music colleagues, friends or elected officials.
The NAMM Foundation, Music for All's Strategic Advocacy Partner, recognized 376 school districts and 96 schools across the country last week, part of the 2014 Best Communities for Music Education. This annual program highlights school districts that provide outstanding music education as part of the core curriculum. We are extremely proud that many of the 2014 Best Communities participate in Music for All programming, including the BOA Marching Championships and MFA National Festival. Click here to read more about the Best Communties program and view the list of honorees.
Close to 500 advocates from across the U.S. visited Washington, DC last week to advocate for several important issues for the arts, including increased federal funding for the arts and funding for arts education in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Music for All was a Cosponsor of National Arts Advocacy Day, held March 24-25, 2014 and presented by Americans for the Arts. As one of seven advocates representing Indiana, I had the opportunity to meet with staff of several Indiana Congressmen and convey the incredible impact of arts education in the state and across the country. Additionally, I had the pleasure of attending the White House Briefing on the Arts, which featured acting National Endowment for the Arts Chair Joan Shigekawa and several members of President Obama's administration. The Congressional Arts Handbook, created for Arts Advocacy Day, is an excellent resource that provides excellent facts and figures to make the case for music and arts education to your representative.
Also at Arts Advocacy Day, America's only television network devoted entirely to the arts, Ovation, launched their new advocacy campaign, "Stand for the Arts." According to Ovation, "The arts are an essential element in shaping a positive, productive, successful society on a local, regional and national level. How we support artists and artistic endeavors is a metric for our health as a nation." The "Stand for the Arts" launch video presented at Arts Advocacy Day features actors Ed Norton and Kerry Washington. Check out standforthearts.com to learn more and find resources to support the arts in your community.
MFA Strategic Partner, the National Association for Music Education will head to Capitol Hill this week to take part in "Music Matters," a panel discussion about the impact of music education hosted by the Congressional Rock and Roll Caucus. An important part of the conversation will be Broader Minded, NAfME's new music education advocacy campaign that focuses on the benefits of music education beyond just test scores. This campaign provides excellent resources in making the case for music education, including information on music's impact on 21st century skills such as creativity, verbal and nonverbal communication and critical thinking.
If you are a musician, you are probably already aware of the pysical benefits to playing an instrument or singing, especially if you were in marching band or show choir. This popular video from 2009 displays the power of music in Stockholm, Sweden. Overnight, workers installed electronic piano keys on stairs in a Stockholm metro station. In addition to being a fun and creative project, there was a profound physical impact: 66% more people took the stairs over the escalator than in previous days. What are other ways music can improve physical fitness? We'd love to hear in the comments below!