State Music Education Associations Conduct Advocacy Drive-In Days

Although much has been accomplished at the national level with the passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) and enumeration of music as part of a “Well-Rounded Education,” our work as music education advocates is long from over.

As part of Music In Our Schools Month®, several of the National Association for Music Education’s state music education associations (MEAs) conducted “advocacy drive-in days” in March to show we are not ready to let up on the gas pedal.  

Photo courtesy UMEA

NAfME would like to recognize each of these MEAs for continuing the good fight for music education, ensuring music retains a seat at the table with legislatures and that they protect access to music education for all students.


Utah Music Educators Association’s “Music on the Hill”

On March 9, the Utah Music Educators Association held a very successful advocacy day at their state capitol in Salt Lake City. UMEA’s annual Capitol Hill Day event featured outstanding performances by several ensembles, including:

  • The Davis High School Marching and Concert Bands
  • The Northridge Elementary School Choir
  • The University of Utah Scholarship String Quartet
  • Violin virtuoso Jenny Oaks Baker

Baker also served as the keynote speaker for the event. Other key speakers included Utah State Senator James Dabakis, who received a resounding cheer after stating “we need this place to shake, so the rest of the legislature will know we are here!” In addition, Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox also spoke and advocated for the inclusion of the arts into STEM to create a STEAM initiative in the State of Utah.

For a full transcript of Jenny Oaks Baker’s keynote address, please visit the Deseret News website

marching band
Photo Courtesy of UMEA


Michigan Music Education Advocacy Day

Also on March 9, the Michigan Music Education Association (MMEA) collaborated with the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) and the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) to celebrate Music Education Advocacy Day in Lansing, at Michigan’s State Capitol. Together, these three associations united with the Partnership for Music Education Policy Development (PMEPD) and met with state legislators throughout the day in support for quality music education programs in Michigan. The organizations asked lawmakers to consider two main legislative requests:

  1. Mandate for elementary music instruction, as prescribed in current HB 5284 & SB 718.
  2. Requirement that all music classes PreK-12 be taught by a JX or JQ certified music educator.


Photo Courtesy of Michigan MEA


In addition, three ensembles had the opportunity to perform in the Glass Floor Rotunda of the State Capitol. These groups included:

  • Thurston Elementary School 5th Grade Choir
  • Okemos High School Freshman Brass Quintet
  • Haslett High School Men’s Chorale

A version of Michigan MEA’s press release regarding Michigan Music Advocacy Day can be found here.

New York Joseph Sugar Day

Members of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) celebrated their 43rd Annual Joseph R. Sugar Day in Albany. The event is named in memory of Music In Our Schools Month Founder, Joseph R. Sugar, who passed away in November 2009. Members of NYSSMA participated in Joseph Sugar Day by conducting visits with state legislators and discussed with offices about the passage of ESSA, the impact of common core state standards on music education, evaluation procedures for New York’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), and the elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has removed millions of dollars from school districts utilized to pay off the state deficit.


education policy
Photo Courtesy of Dutchess County MEA


For more information on Joseph Sugar Day and NYSSMA’s advocacy initiatives, please click here.

Follow all the action during Music in Our Schools Month on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #MIOSM2016.

Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, March 24, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (