Note: This week will be my final "Fanfare" blog post as a MFA staff member. I begin a new journey next month in Los Angeles, where I'll be attending graduate school. It's been a pleasure bringing you music education and advocacy news for the past few months. Please be sure to stay tuned to the MFA Blog for advocacy news and more!
Last week, you may have heard about results from the latest Harris Poll that were promising for music education. According to those surveyed in the Poll, over three-quarters of Americans were involved in school music, an increase from a 2007 Harris Poll. More people surveyed also said that music education prepares students better for their careers and for problem solving. Some have speculated that the increased presence of music education in pop culture, including shows like "Glee," "The Voice," etc., have helped expand participation in school music. While many of these shows display a distorted view of what school music classes are really like, are they valuable advocacy tools?
When you think arts integration, or utilizing music, dance, theatre or visual art into core lesson plans, you may envision it only for elementary students, for making learning fun or interesting. Bucking that trend, Alexandra Pannoni from the U.S. News & World Report showed us three ways to incorporate music into high school classes in a recent article. From rap in an English class to music production in science and engineering classes, music is a universal, relatable vehicle for student learning. "We found that once we began to balance both the creativity and the academics, that their academics became more important to them," said a San Diego high school English teacher who utilized songwriting to assist in character analysis.
As schools across the nation begin to ring in a new year, its a perfect time for teachers to think about professional development, re-charging the batteries for a new school year. In this month's School Band & Orchestra Magazine, professional development was a big focus, including an article from Marcia Neel and the Music Achievement Council. One of the biggest takeaways in this article for me was the importance of engaging and inspiring students through setting goals, creating mottos and encouraging community service. SBO also featured an interview with MFA Summer Symposium faculty member and former Wando H.S. director Scott Rush. This year, Mr. Rush will serve as Director of Fine Arts for the Dorchester School District 2 in Summerville, SC. Scott Rush penned the valuable "Habits of a Successful Band Director."
I've been an Ingrid Michaelson fan for years, and her latest album, including the single "Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls," has finally brought her mainstream. Long a supporter of music education, Michaelson is giving back to her hometown in the form of quality music education through the VH1 Save the Music Foundation: "In 2012, I accompanied the VH1 Save the Music Foundation on a visit to a school in my Staten Island hometown. My heart melted not just because of the adorable kids, but also because I was so inspired by their talent and love for music. Seeing their faces light up as they walked into the music room, ready to place their tiny hands on newly donated musical instruments and start their music exploration, I decided to take a stronger stand on saving music education."
From Daniel Levitan's This Is Your Brain on Music to recent brain studies in the news, we know that listening and performing music is a great exercise for our brains. The folks famous for short, impactful speeches have created a new video, which displays the benefits of playing an instrument in an animated and entertaining way. The video emphasizes that while listening to music involved much brain activity, playing an instrument is akin to a full-body workout for your brain. The video also speaks to the number of qualities and personality traits in musicians, such as high executive function, which may explain why so many of our nation's business and community leaders played music. You can watch the video for yourself below:
We brought you this story in April, but since then, Robbie Hanchey's inspiring story of promoting music education in a struggling rural school has made its way across the country. This month, the School Band & Orchestra magazine profiled him in their cover story. With about 600 students in the small Idaho school, Hanchey had very few resources to support a music program. After three years, Hanchey's relentless work to recruit studetns and build support paid off. He now has nearly 100 students participating in his junior/high school band program, out of 250 students in the junior/high school. "I like to think that we’re now a bright example of how you can find a way to provide music for these kids," said Hanchey. "I can’t even imagine these kids not having music because they love it so much. I see all my sixth through 12th graders and I wonder what these kids would do if they didn’t have this, because right now it’s all they do."
While you may get tired of the endless "listicles" on social media – from "10 Best Recipes" to "15 Books to Read This Summer" – I think we found a list you will enjoy, and use! The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has a new list of "20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools." From increased test scores, better work ethic and success beyond school, this list covers it all. When making the case for music education in your school, try focusing on just a few of the important benefits. If you feel you aren't making progress, you still have plenty of proven benefits to share. Be sure to find specific, personal examples of the benefits in action. Whether talking to a parent in your PTA or to an elected official, this is a great list to have in your back pocket.
First Lady Michelle Obama voiced her support for music and arts education last week at a Grammy Museum luncheon in Los Angeles. “For so many young people, arts education is the only reason they get up out of bed in the morning," said the First Lady. The luncheon honored musician Janelle Monae and Placentia school teacher Sunshine Cavalluzzi. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was also in attendance and spoke of how music has helped him, even while in office. A piano player as a kid, Garcetti recently moved his piano into his City Hall office so he can rejuvenate himself. “We all know what music does for our souls, and to our hearts, and to our minds," said Garcetti. You can view the full text of Michelle Obama's keynote speech here.
Cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma has been known recently for some unlikely collaborations, including the Silk Road Ensemble and his foray into hip-hop. Lately, he's connected with Lil Buck, a dancer who struggled to keep up in Memphis Public Schools until he found his passion. The "jookin" style is unique to Memphis, but Lil Buck has applied it to much of his work, including a 9-month run with Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson ONE." In this inspirational video, Lil Buck evokes the intense emotion in Saint-Saen's "The Swan" with unique, intense and seemingly effortless dancing.
MFA Strategic Adovcacy Partner, the NAMM Foundation, debuted a new website last week, making valuable advocacy resources easier to access than ever. The redesign gives the website a fresh new look that will look great whether giving presentations, sending information to elected officials or encouraging your friends to join the cause for music education. Visit www.nammfoundation.org now to check out the new website. While you're there, go ahead and sign up for the next SupportMusic Coalition Webinar, held this Thursday, July 18, live from Summer NAMM! Tons of incredible educators, advocates and music industry professionals are lined up for the Webinar, including BOA adjudicator and Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Dr. Nola Jones; Mark Goff, President of Paige's Music, Official Music Store for the BOA Grand National Championships and other events, and Mark Despotakis from Progressive Music, a music store partner each year for the BOA Regional at Monroeville, PA.
The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union and professional organization for public school teachers, honored two music teachers at their Annual Meeting in Denver earlier this month. According to the National Association for Music Education, Jessica Fitzwater, an elementary music educator in Frederick, Maryland, was named 2014 Political Activist of the Year for her work puhsing for education funding in Frederick County. Princess Moss, a Virginia elementary music teacher was elected Secretary-Treasurer for the NEA's Executive Committee. According to the NEA, Princess has “has long championed bringing back music and fine arts education to America’s public schools.” Congratulations to Jessica and Princess!
Encore Music Lessons created one of my favorite new infographics: "Piano Lessons Are Good For You and Your Brain!" As a piano player myself, I didn't even recognize all of the benefits listed in this infographic. While "Piano lessons are good for your brain" may not be the most successful tactic when getting young children to practice daily, this infographic is a great resource when encouraging other parents to enroll their kids, or even advocating for piano lessons/classes in your school. You can download the full-size version of the infographic here.
Vortex Magazine featured "The State of Music Education" in Portland, Ore. this month and the results were a bit surprising. When I think of Portland, aside from the clever IFC series "Portlandia," I think of vibrant arts and music. In fact, Portland even boasts a $35-per-person "Arts Tax" to support the arts in Portland. Unfortunately, access to quality arts and music in Portland doesn't reach the elementary schools, where only 58% receive music instruction. This article does feature great arguments for music education in our schools, but we must also reach out to school administrators, elected officials and community leaders to ensure that Portland students have the opportunity to experience the power of music.
Many of us here in the "Lower 48" often forget about the United States' various territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, except maybe for vacations. United Jazz in the Virgin Islands sent several young jazz students to New York City to perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center last month with teacher and accomplished drummer Dion Parson. Students experienced the long tradition of jazz excellence and educational outreach at Jazz at Lincoln Center and performed for a captive audience on a stage that overlooks Central Park. Experiences like this not only are life-changing for the students, but provide visibility for underserved areas that have created innovated music education program such as United Jazz. You can check out local news coverage from the once-in-a-lifetime trip below.
More than 150 music education leaders visited Washington D.C. last month as part of the National Association for Music Education's (NAfME) Hill Day 2014. Leaders and educators met with elected representatives to advocate for support of school music. Additionally, NAfME presented their "Stand 4 Music" Award to the Grammy-winning band Fun.'s Andrew Dost and hosted a panel discussion on art's role in STEM Education with the Congressional STEAM Caucus. The panel discussion featured NAfME President Glenn Nirman, Young Audiences Executive Director David Dik and Memphis City Schools Chair of Arts Education Dru Davidson. You can view the full panel discussion on the importance of the arts below.
My parents would be the first to tell you that they are not musical people. After all, it was me who had to beg my parents to start me on piano lessons in third grade. They were great sports in listening to my early piano practicing, then saxophone and French horn. But they also have taken a keen interest in music. For example, my dad, who grew up in rural Ohio without much access to classical music, now really enjoys the big, symphonic orchestral works like the Mahler Symphonies. Author of The Music Parents' Survival Guide Amy Nathan recently described the many benefits of being a music parent. While we mainly think of the benefits to the child learning music, the parents also expand their horizons, try something new and connect to their children. So if you're a music student, go ahead and say "You're Welcome!" to your parents – but be sure to thank them as well for supporting your passion.
We've featured several El Sistema-related programs in "Fanfare," which displays the extracurricular and community support music instruction is receiving across the country. When schools are unable to provide quality music education, organizations like Upbeat NYC provide musical opportunities for students. This in-depth article from the New York Times describes the impact Upbeat NYC has had on many families: “They also develop teamwork, discipline, perseverance, empathy and problem solving — critical life skills for finding success in any career they choose to follow,” said Mike Fitelson, executive director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts. “But who knows — perhaps there is a Mozart-like virtuoso, or a Bernstein-like maestro, hiding in their midst.”
While this blog primarily focuses on the state of music education in the United States, I can't help buy feel for our friends across the pond in the U.K. In wake of austerity measures and budget cuts, the arts have taken a serious hit throughout the country. Programs like the BBC's Ten Pieces are attempting to keep the U.K.'s long tradition of musical excellence alive, but many advocates want more to ensure students have access to music education. This Guardian article explains the struggles in the U.K. and points to some possibility for progress.
Earlier this year, the Grammy Foundation posted several videos featuring prominent music artists describing how music impacted them. From Ariana Grande to Tierny Sutton, many artists participated in school music as a child and today are advocating for its importance. The Grammy Foundation produced the videos to promote their Grammy Music Educator Award, currently in the Quarterfinal stages. These short video snippets can also be used as resources for your own community. Whether recruiting young students to participate in music making or to display to the public music's importance. These videos can be a great resource for any music advocate. Below is a video from "The X-Factor" Third Season Champions, Alex and Sierra.
Returning students to the Bands of America Drum Major Institute put their leadership skills to the test today with a new challenge: The Marble Exercise. In addition to conducting and score study classes at the Symposium, drum major participants build and improve leadership qualities important to marching band leaders. Teambuilding exercises that expose leaders and move them outside their comfort zone are important in ensuring that drum majors can lead and empower in almost any situation.
In a group of 20, students received a piece of paper folded in half and one marble, which they were required to roll from one point, 25 feet out and around back to the original point using only the folded sheets of paper. Group members lined up their folded paper and attempted to move the marble down the line. After the marble passed through their paper, the participant would then have to move to the end of the line, helping the marble advance further. At first, the marble moved very quickly, students were unable to react in time and the marble fell soon after. Participants then realized that they would need to carefully control the pace of the marble, especially when it reached a curve in the track.
Throughout the exercise, some students because visibly frustrated, while others keep encouraging and supporting others. Many had simple phrases to help their fellow participants remember tactics they had agreed on, such as “Stay with your partner,” or “Keep your shoulders out.” After several tries and some discussion, the group was able to successfully roll the marble through the entire track. While many cheered at the distance they achieved, several even wanted to go further and keep improving.
Like the brick exercise and other leadership activities that the drum majors participate in, the Marble Exercise is applicable to their own program. The marble, like their band, does not stop rolling. Leadership must utilize control, make adjustments along the way and communicate constantly to ensure that the ensemble does not falter and fall. When the marble fell and the participants failed, they had to get up and try again, and keep encouraging the others in their group. While applicable to a lot in life, the nonstop rolling reflects the fast-paced nature of marching band. From band camp to daily rehearsals to competitions, you cannot allow yourself or fellow members fall off the wagon. If so, they’ll not only be behind, but also be discouraged.
“When you go back to your own program, I charge you to find a way to make a flame,” said DMI faculty member Kim Shuttlesworth. Drum majors must empower their band members to be passionate about the ensemble. They must create a supporting family environment, where students can be honest, caring and respectful of each other. Just one of many exercises throughout the week, the Marble Exercise helped students realize the importance of group encouragement and teamwork in a larger group. At the end of the day, the marble keeps rolling, and you must adjust.
Greetings from the Music for All Summer Symposium! After a successful Leadership Weekend Experience, all 1,200 students and directors are now on campus to begin the weeklong summer music camp at Ball State University. Like we have covered in this blog previously, demonstrating examples of music's impact on children through "advocacy in action" is a great way to support your music program and ensure that music education remains a core component of scholastic education. We'll be sharing inspiring stories all week on the MFA Blog and MFA social media pages, so stay connected! And now back to this week's news in music education and advocacy:
NAfME members will be in Washington, D.C. later this week advocating for federal support of music education and STEAM. On June 26, NAfME, in cooperation with the Congressional STEAM Caucus, will host "Music Education Powers STEAM." The STEAM Caucus was created by Rep. Susan Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) last year to promote the arts as an integral part of scholastic education, alongside science, technology, engineering and math.
At the John K. Lazares Alternative School near Lebanon, Ohio, had the unique opportunity to fuse music and science instruction by learning how to build an electric guitar. Local college, Sinclair Community College, participated in a National Science Foundation-funded project that encourages science study through music. “Students relate to guitars, and they see the relevance of their STEM education classes as they get real, hands-on experience," said Thomas Singer, head of the STEM Guitar Project. By providing the project in a school with at-risk students, the program not only provided excitement for music and science, but also exposed students to new careers involving science and the arts.
As a former participant in both a competitive and a non-competitive marching band, I found myself at the middle of many arguments on competitive philosophies. This article takes an interesting look in the transition from competitive marching band to non-competitive. Either way, marching bands are often the most visible group in the music program, sometimes even the school. They represent the school in parades, at games, and at band events. It will be fascinating to watch these schools and see how the non-competitive environment affects performance, student success and student interest.
The best way to advocate for music education is the lead by example. At the Leadership Weekend Experience this weekend, close to 500 student leaders learned how to better serve their own music programs and inspire their fellow musicians to work harder through that same servant leadership model. In each session that I attended, I was blown away by the intensity, passion and leadership potential that so many of the students embodied. I'm much more confident in the success of our world with these kids at the helm. Read this blog post from fellow MFA staffer Mackenzie Ziegler about her very first Leadership Weekend Experience!
On Saturday, close to 500 hundred students arrived at Ball State University to begin the Leadership Weekend Experience! Students began with an opening session featuring Fran Kick, moved on to break-out sessions and small group sessions and finished the evening with a rousing keynote from Dr. Tim. Following the keynote, students were treated to a surprise party to cap off an exciting day!
Students received Leadership Weekend T-Shirts and markers and began signing each other's shirts while dancing to tunes spun by DJ Blitz (aka MFA Senior Marketing Coordinator Erin Fortune). By signing these T-shirts, students are commemorating their Leadership Weekend experience and creating lasting connections with fellow campers.
The Leadership Weekend Party is a long tradition at the Summer Symposium, and while the returning Leadership students likely remember the party from previous years, it was a complete surprise to first-year attendees. The SWAG Team and DTAs (Directors' Track Assistants) chaperoned the party, and even got in on some of the dancing!
At the end of the party, campers left to their dorms for the evening with new leadership skills, t-shirts full of signatures and inspiring notes and memories that the students will keep for a long time.
As most of us have likely experienced firsthand, music teachers are inherently creative people. New York professional-pianist-turned-music-educator Adam Goldberg has taken creativity in the classroom to a whole new level. He discovered a way to serve students with disabilities that expands the boundaries of music education. Goldberg uses tablet computers to allow kids with challenges the opportunity to play and enjoy music. "We have some really, really low-functioning students who I could never really involve in the music activities," Goldberg says. "But the iPad has pretty much taken care of that. I can't say I have 100 percent involvement. But it's pretty close." Students use keyboard, guitar shredder, recording and other apps on the tablets to create and produce music, which would not normally be possible with acoustic instruments. This report from NPR's "Morning Edition" is worth a listen below, where you can hear inspiring stories of achievement as well as some of the tablet-created music.
New research published earlier this month in Pacific Standard reported that music classes continued to serve students despite fears that "No Child Left Behind" would reduce access. "It should be heartening for most music teachers to learn that a core group of just over one-third of all U.S. high school students, for nearly 30 years, has consistently chosen to enroll in a music class," said researcher Kenneth Elpus. There was also troubling news in the study, which tracked 9th through 12th-grade music class enrollemnt from 1982 to 2009. The report showed under-representation in Hispanic students, students with Individualised Education Plans and English Language Learner students. Advocacy efforts among teachers, parents, administrators and the music industry have been effective at keeping music strong in our schools; however, we have work to do. Visit the Advocacy portion of our website for tolls and resources to advocate for music education.
Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama's appointment to chair the National Endowment for the Arts – Jane Chu. Chu previously helped build and run Kansas City's stunning new performing arts center, the Kauffman Center. Chu succeeds Broadway producer Rocco Landesman, who left the NEA in December, 2012. As chair of the NEA, Chu will become the face of the arts and public funding for the arts in the U.S. Music for All is proud recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts over the past few years. Since its founding in 1965, the Endowment has provided over $5 billion in public support for the arts.
Across the pond, the British Broadcasting Company just launched a new music education initiative to introduce young students to classical music, harnessing the creativity found in classical music to inspire children. The program selected 10 pieces across the classical music spectrum to provide an entry point to classical music for primary school students. BBC will utilize workshops and performances in schools to promote the program, utilizing the BBC Orchestras and Singers. While very similar to other symphony concerts for children, the nationally-based program displays the UK's commitment to music in schools. The list – found here – ranges from Handel to Stravinsky, and even a new percussion piece from young composer Anna Meredith. As a horn player, I'm thrilled that Mozart's 4th Horn Concerto is well represented, but the pianist in me is searching for a Bach piece on the list. What are your thoughts of the list?
This summer, the world has turned its attention to Brazil for the 2016 FIFA World Cup. Just here in the MFA office, I've noticed a few staffers catching up on the world's most watched sporting event (yes, even more viewership than the Olympics) while making final preparations for the MFA Summer Symposium. All the attention the World Cup receives is a boon for marketers across the world, and they're using music to connect the global marketplace. "The World Cup is universal. Music is universal too," said Joe Belliotti, director of global entertainment marketing at Coca-Cola, in a recent AP article. "And if you can find that simple melody and simple lyrical idea that can translate and connect with people around the world, that's the formula we strive for." Coca-Cola has created a song, "The World is Ours," and translated the song for 32 countries, featuring local artists. Those 32 versions have hit Top 10 charts in 40 countries, connecting and engaging with millions of customers. If you're more into the classical fare, opera superstar Placido Domingo will be performing before the World Cup finale on July 13, continuing his 30+ year tradition of performing at the sporting event.
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!
Photo used by permission of University of South Carolina School of Music.
The application/audition packet for Music for All’s new Chamber Music National Festival, part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, is now available for download at www.musicforall.org/chamber-festival.
The 2015 festival will be March 12-14th in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Music for All is proud to be again expanding the MFA National Festival to provide performance opportunities for students in chamber ensembles. The Chamber Festival is made possible by the commitment and generous lead donor support of Vandoren.
The non-competitive Chamber Music National Festival will offer wind and string chamber ensemble players the opportunity to perform on a national stage and experience professional coaching and instrument-specific master classes.
Michael Skinner, President of DANSR, Inc. (Vandoren) says, “Having students perform in a smaller chamber music size group improves listening skills and the ability to balance and blend. The independence you develop by playing in groups of this size simply makes you a stronger musician. When you consider that some of the greatest works we have were written for chamber groups, then pedagogically it’s clear that adding a chamber music component to Music for All makes sense both educationally and artistically. We are excited to be part of it!”
“Yamaha is very excited to join Music for All and DANSR in the forming of Music for All’s Chamber Music Festival,” says John Wittmann, Director of Artist Relations, Yamaha Corporation of America. “This effort will serve such an important group of students who otherwise might never have gotten an opportunity to grow from this crucial and underserved genre of music. We at Yamaha are honored to be a part of this initiative!”
Ensembles from four to 16 member can apply/audition. The final deadline for chamber ensembles to apply is September 15, 2014. See the application packet for details on this memorable experience and audition requirements.
We hope to see you in Indianapolis in 2015 at the inaugural Chamber Music National Festival!