Voters in Arlington, Texas overwhelmingly supported a $663 million bond package last week for the Arlington Independent School District. Arlington ISD and Arlington First, a political action committee formed to support the bond issue, utilized an active social media campaign and important endorsements from community business leaders to pass the largest school bond in Tarrant County history. Fine arts were an important part of the bond package, which supported the construction of a 2,500 seat fine arts center, the purchase of instruments, uniforms and equipment to increase access to performing arts programs and several other fine arts initiatives. The district, which largely serves Hispanic and African-American communities, boasts a vibrant fine arts program, serving close to two thirds of the 64,000 students in the district. Congratulations to Arlington ISD!
For school districts that lack adequate funding for arts education, enrichment programs provided by local nonprofit organizations have become more popular. Los Angeles County is a prime example where local nonprofits have stepped up to provide high quality music instruction for underserved students. Education Through Music is an enrichment program originally founded in New York in 1991 that partners with schools to provide all students with music instruction, from elementary through high school. In 2006, Victoria Young Lanier created a Los Angeles affiliate of Education Through Music to enhance student academic performance and creative development among disadvantaged schools throughout Los Angeles. Victoria and Program Director Ryan Rowles recently sat down with a local radio station to discuss the program and its vast impact in LA. You can listen to the audio below, which features Education Through Music's recent "Music Unites the World Festival." At the Festival, underserved students had the opportunity to rehearse and perform "Let it Go" from Disney's Frozen with composer Christophe Beck, arranger Tim Davies and prominent vocal coach Evelyn Halus.
While we spend a lot of time advocating solely for the arts or music, we often must collaborate for our message to be impactful. Educator Stacey Boyd advocates in this US News and World Report OpEd for all extracurriculars, including music. She advocates for music, foreign language and physical education, which are all integral in a well-rounded education. "Concentration, strong recall skills, evolved communication skills, and being a good team player are just a few of the benefits research shows music, foreign language and physical education have on a developing mind. To me, that list reads as one I might put together for a model employee," says Boyd.
Schools across the country competed in Yamaha's Quest for Music Education Contest late last year, which awarded $100,000 in Yamaha instruments to elementary, middle and high schools, as well as colleges. The contest included a variety of online quests throughout the Yamaha website, including Yamaha Artists, Yamaha Internships and music advocacy. Bands of America Grand National Finalist Round Rock H.S. from Texas was awarded 2nd place in the high school division, receiving $10,000 in Yamaha instruments. “We have a number of needs for instruments, so any chance to win some, especially from Yamaha, was a real motivator for us," said Round Rock director David Mobley. "We have selected a french horn and an oboe, both of which we had to borrow from other schools." You can view the complete list of winners here.
If you are not familiar with MFA leadership faculty member and "Be Part of the Band" creator Scott Lang, I encourage you to sign up for his newsletter now! Every week, Scott shares creative tips and tricks for students and educators to improve your ensemble. Last week, Scott shared his "Happy File" for Teacher Appreciation Week. Scott's "Happy File" includes gifts from students he has received throughout the years in addition to photos, accolades, mementos, etc. He also encourages all of his students to make their own "Happy File" as well. Whether you need inspiration or are having a particularly tough day, the "Happy File" is a great reminder of great impact educators and musicians have. Be sure to check out Scott's video about the "Happy File" below, which was filmed by his sons!
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.
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!
Whether you're a professional musician or your instrument sits dusty in the back of our closet, a music teacher likely remains as one of the most impactful people in your scholastic experience. Music In Our Schools Month is the perfect time to recognize an music teacher in your life. Last year, The GRAMMY Foundation created a new way to recognize music teachers through the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. This program allows anyone - students, parents, fellow teachers, administrators, professional musicians - to nominate a music teacher. Any school music teacher, public or private, Kindergarten through College, is eligble for the Award. Kent Knappenberger, a music teacher and Choir Director at Westfield Academy and Central School in New York, was the recipient of the inaugural GRAMMY Music Educator Award. In addition to his appearance at the 56th GRAMMY Awards in January, Kent's inspiring story was shared across the country, including a CBS This Morning feature you can view below.
The deadline to nominate a teacher for the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award is March 31, 2014. Nomination forms and more information on the Award are available online at www.grammyintheschools.com. After the nomination process, quarterfinalist educators are asked to provide additional criteria for submission. Semifinalist music educators are selected through committee interviews, and finally a Blue Ribbon Committee selects up to 10 finalists and the GRAMMY Music Educator Award recipient. Each finalist receives a $1,000 award, and the recipient receives a $10,000 award in addition to the opportunity to experience and appear at the GRAMMY Awards in 2014. Click the button below to recognize a teacher who ahs made an impact in your life.
The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. The application process for the award will adjust each year to allow the broad array of effective teaching styles and methods used in the discipline to be recognized and awarded. The GRAMMY Music Educator Award is supported by Music for All partners the NAMM Foundation and the National Association for Music Education.
Your voice is essential to ensuring that music education remains an integral part of scholastic education, and Music In Our Schools Month is the perfect opportunity to make your voice heard. Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM®), supported by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), began with a small statewide celebration in 1973 and has grown to a nationwide month of awareness, advocacy and music making. The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and community and to display the benefits school music brings to students of all ages. At Music for All, we believe in music education and music in our schools, and we are a proud partner of the National Assocaition for Music Education in promoting Music In Our Schools Month.
This year’s slogan for Music In Our Schools Month is “Music Makes Me ___!” Tell your friends, teachers, school administrators and elected officials why music in our schools is important to you. When sharing on social media, use #MIOSM to connect with other music education advocates. You can download the “Music Makes Me ___!” logo or purchase MIOSM products at nafme.org.
Throughout the month, Music for All will be providing several opportunities for you to make your voice heard. Connect with MFA's social media channels for opportunities to share why you beleive in music in our schools. Additionally, you can tell your story of music’s impact through our website. Your story could be featured in a MIOSM blog post this month! Stay tuned to the MFA Blog and our social media channels for more ways to connect with Musc In Our Schools Month.
Seth Williams is the Advocacy Coordinator at Music for All. Seth is no stranger to Music for All and Bands of America – first as a participant and as an intern in Development and Participant Relations. He is a graduate of Butler University and previously worked in the Broadway theatre industry in New York. A proud alumnus of “The Centerville Jazz Band,” Seth is likely the biggest band nerd he knows.
Each year, arts advocates from across Indiana travel to the State Capitol in Indianapolis to participate in “Arts Day at the Statehouse,” presented by the Indiana Coalition for the Arts. Music for All is a proud member of the vibrant arts community in the state, and I was excited to represent Music for All and the arts in Indiana last month at Arts Day. I joined close to 50 other artists, teachers and arts administrators in an advocacy training session, a community arts project and most importantly, meeting with legislators to demonstrate our support for the arts in Indiana.
Because Music for All’s pinnacle programs are located in Indiana, MFA has an incredible impact on Indiana’s young people as well as the state and local tax revenue generated from tourism during MFA events. MFA also receives general operating support from the Indiana Arts Commission, partly funded by the Indiana State Legislature. I had the great fortune of sharing with legislators the important work that Music for All and other arts organizations across the state are doing: improving the quality of life, providing economic impact, and providing impactful arts education for Hoosier youth.
After a brief training session where we learned how simple it is to speak to your elected officials, we headed to the Statehouse to “storm the floor.” It was a very busy day at the Statehouse, as many important pieces of legislation were in discussion, but we were still able to meet with many elected officials. In addition to talking points from Music for All, the Indiana Coalition for the Arts also provided us with brief items to discuss with legislators, which included thanking legislators for increased funding for the Indiana Arts Commission and promoting a bill supporting ensemble music education in middle and secondary schools.
Right away, I met with Representative Eric Koch, who is an active supporter of the arts in his South Central Indiana district. While nervously ensuring that I covered all of my talking points, we had a great conversation about Rep. Koch’s passion for the arts. I also had the pleasure of meeting Senator Jean Breaux, who represents my home district in Indianapolis. “The arts have always been an important part of my life,” explained Sen. Breaux. She also represents many underserved families in Indianapolis, including some who participate in MFA’s Indianapolis Public Schools outreach programs. Sen. Breaux been an important advocate for the arts in the State Senate, and it was inspiring to speak firsthand with a legislator with so much passion for the arts.
Indiana State Senator Timothy Lanane and MFA Advocacy Coordinator Seth Williams
(Photo courtesy of Randy Orr, Indiana Coaltion for the Arts)
Later in the afternoon, I met with Senate Minority Leader Timothy Lanane, who represents East Central Indiana, including the home of the MFA Summer Symposium - Ball State University. I spoke with Sen. Lanane about the Summer Symposium and MFA’s commitment to engaging the East Central Indiana community.
Because of the busy day in the Statehouse and the large number of visitors, I was not able to meet with as many legislators as I had hoped. Instead, we had the opportunity to meet other artists, teachers and administrators from all over the state and participate in a community art project entitled Have a HeART, developed by Hoosier artist Joe LaMantia. The project helped spread a message throughout the Statehouse of passion and collaboration through the arts.
The 2014 Arts Day at the Statehouse was a simple yet effective way to meet with legislators and display the impact of the arts, including music education, on Hoosiers. You too can contact your federal, state and local elected officials and spread the message of music education’s impact on students across the U.S. The Indiana Coalition has many resources specific to Indiana elected officials here. You can also visit our partners at SupportMusic.com, including NAMM and the National Association for Music Education, for more national resources. Whether writing an email or letter, calling your representative’s office or visiting them in person, advocating for the arts is integral to ensuring public support for the arts, including music education in our nation’s schools.
Celebrate #GivingTuesday with Music for All!
Join others from around the world in a day of giving to kick-off the holiday season this year. Retailers have Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and we want you to help us support #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday was launched last year as a campaign to create a national day of giving to support charitable activities that support non-profit organizations like Music for All. Whether supporting Music for All with a donation or spreading the word about #GivingTuesday, you can make a difference for nonprofits across the world. Here's how you can make a difference:
Support Music for All's Summer Symposium Scholarships
This #GivingTuesday, you can provide positively life-changing experiences to high school students through the Music for All Scholarship Fund. The MFA Summer Symposium is a weeklong summer camp that provides world class music instruction, leadership training, immersive performance opportunities and nightly concerts. Students who attend the Summer Symposium become leaders in their band, school and community and aquire the skills necessary for success beyond high school. Camp scholarships provide valuable opportunties for underserved students and communities with limited access to high qality music and leadership training. By partnering with Music for All as a donor this #GivingTuesday, you are showing that you believe in music education, music in our schools and Music for All. Click here to make your donation today.
Spread the Word about #GivingTuesday
Even if you're unable to make a charitable gift today, you can support #GivingTuesday by spreading the word to support charitable activites all day. One unique way to support #GivingTuesday is the #unselfie. Show your support for #GivingTuesday and Music for All by uploading an #unselfie to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. Encourage your friends and followers to support #GivingTuesday as well. The holiday season is the perfect time to embrace giving, and what better way than with #GivingTuesday. You can visit www.givingtuesday.org for more #GivingTuesday social media resources. Don't forget to check out Music for All's social media pages all day for more #GivingTuesday information.