If you have an attachment to music education in schools, you don’t need a career in investigative journalism to know that times are tough for music and arts programs, not only here in the United States, but around the world. As school budgets get cut, music and arts programs are usually the first to go, and although most schools still have a music program, it’s often a fight to keep the programs alive year after year. If the future of your school’s music program is shaky, here are five things you can do today to help keep music education in schools.
If you’re short on time but have cash to spare, donating money to music charities is one of the best ways to keep music programs in schools. Fortunately, there are a variety of charities to choose from, ranging from the Give a Note Foundation to the Fender Music Foundation. (For more ideas, check out this article.) Even better, most donations are tax deductible, so you’ll feel a little better about your contributions when it’s time to do your taxes. Whether you make a one-time donation or make them on a monthly basis, whatever you contribute, no matter how large or small, will go directly to a good cause.
Often times, decisions to keep or get rid of music programs are made by a school’s executive team, so showing up to meetings and voicing your support is important. Speak with your child’s band or orchestra leader about which meetings you should show up to and try to get a group of concerned parents together who are willing to attend the important ones. Similarly, it’s important to show your child how important the program is to you by showing up to their performances. Your physical presence at school concerts alone will help build a community around music education, so invite as many friends and family members as you can.
Fundraise at School
There’s a reason schools hold fundraisers for pretty much everything–they work! From bake sales and parents-only casino nights to family-friendly ice cream sundae parties, sync with your school’s booster club for some inspiration. Before you start planning a fundraiser for your school’s music program, be sure to meet with the director of your school’s music program to find out exactly what they need. Chances are, they’re already familiar with fundraising and could bring some ideas to the table. Many students take part in both music and sports, so a large fundraiser held twice a year that benefits both the music and sports programs could be something to consider. Here are some tips for a successful music fundraiser.
From writing legislators to voting in favor of keeping music in schools, getting political is the most “official” way of making sure your voice is heard. Encourage the parents of other children in your child’s music program to write letters of support to legislators–the more people they see are interested in keeping music programs in school, the stronger the case is. In some cases, you won’t even have to hand write the letter. Spend some time researching your local legislators and representatives. In most cases, their contact information can easily be found online. Again, your child’s band or orchestra leader may have some experience with this, so keep them in the loop.
Talk openly with your school’s music teachers, principal and other members of the booster club about what you can do to help support your child’s music program, and always stay up-to-date with the latest research. The NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic program is an advocacy program that empowers ordinary people in communities across the nation to be advocates for music and music education. Check out their website for a list of resources they provide that are particularly helpful for music advocates just like you.