“I was extremely touched when three former students spoke on behalf of their elementary music education before the school board,” says Erin Berg. “Our best advocates are parents and community members.” Here’s how she earns their support.
- Make sure your curriculum and learner outcomes align with your state music standards and/or the National Standards for Music Education. That includes any music textbook series you use.
- “Parents and community members advocate for our programs because they believe in the quality of the music offerings and the instruction their families have received,” says Berg.
“Music performances (musicals, concerts, or informances) highlight what your students are learning,” says Berg. “Involve parents with program preparation (creating scenery or costumes or helping students learn songs and lines). They learn to appreciate the work needed to put on these programs.”
Other ways to make your music program visible:
- Performance Days: Students share a song with music class; piano players share a recital piece. Berg usually has three each school year.
- Lunchroom Performances: Students share songs during their grade level’s lunch.
- PTO Sing-along: The choir and recorder ensemble perform at the December PTO meeting, which includes a holiday sing-along.
- Patriotic Programs: Students perform on National Anthem Day and Veterans Day.
- Singing at Ball Games: Singing at school, district, or professional games makes your program visible.
- Celebrate Music In Our Schools Month in March: Berg holds a music class open house every March for parents and other family members to observe. NAfME has lots of ideas and activities for MIOSM and The Concert for Music In Our Schools Month.
- Host a Music Festival: Berg hosted a “Celebration of Young Musicians” festival.
Remember to invite the school board and administrators to all music performances.
- Create a music web page with a performance schedule, outside music resources, and research or quotes that support music education.
- Publish a music newsletter or place a monthly article in the school’s newsletter. Berg sends out a newsletter each trimester with upcoming performances and articles for each grade level outlining what students have learned.
And make sure to thank parents and others for their support.
Adapted from “Quality, Visible Programs + Good Communication = Advocacy,” by Erin Berg, in the Fall 2011 issue of Interval, the Minnesota MEA magazine. Used with permission.
Erin Berg teaches at Rice Lake Elementary School in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, and serves as MMEA’s Classroom Vice President.
Linda C. Brown, January 4, 2012, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)