A Letter of Admiration from the CMA Foundation

By Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director, sponsored by the CMA Foundation


Dear music teachers,

It is safe to say that 2020 will be one of the most intense, challenging, and relentless years of your career. It is also safe to say that this is a year that students, more than ever, look to their teachers to find calmness, routine, safety, and inspiration. I know there are still a lot of unknowns, but there are a few things I would like to remind you of and challenge you to keep at the forefront as you continue to navigate this uncertain time.

This is a year you are most likely reminded of the reasons why you went into this field in the first place. Teachers are often the only ones directly impacting student learning. But teachers have not just been teachers for decades. You have been shaping the communities you live in by infusing creativity in the young people throughout them. You do not just TEACH music. You are community builders, innovative thinkers, creative souls, and incredible leaders.

elementary students singing


Whether you are a student preparing for a career in education, a first-year teacher, or an educator with successful tenure—you’ve got this. You chose this career for all the right reasons. To change the future, build leaders, and ultimately leave the system better than you found it. Trust me, your position and passion are needed now more than ever. While you may not always be able to see those bright eyes looking up at you filled with hope and innocence, they are still there. Behind digital walls and face masks, they are still showing up and hoping you do the same. We appreciate your willingness to adopt and adapt to online learning platforms. We know that online learning has its challenges and certainly does not replace the way in which a student would have traditionally learned in a classroom, but in some ways this is better preparing our students for the reality of the world. Change is happening in our society at a rapid pace and for once education is being tasked with keeping up versus escaping the realities of a technology revolution. The fact is, no matter the learning environment, you as a teacher remain a critical piece of the puzzle. So, I ask that you take a minute to reflect on why you love this job so much. Think of the students who will attribute their successes to your relentless belief in them, knowing you always poured everything you had into them to ensure they felt seen and heard—even in their most vulnerable states.

As a nonprofit committed to music education, we continue to be amazed and inspired by the tenacity and passion of music teachers everywhere. We are inspired not just today, but every time we enter a classroom and watch the magic we call music fill the hearts, minds, and walls of that room. Ten years ago, the CMA Foundation made a commitment to the field when we launched—bring music education to students everywhere. We were not exactly sure what we were doing, but we were committed to making a difference. Now I can wholeheartedly say, we’ve always given 110%, listened, learned, and kept our eye on the prize—getting music in the hands of students, so they have the opportunity to participate as part of their well-rounded education. I mention this because—you may not have all the answers now but trust me, you will look back on this moment in your career where you rose to the occasion and stopped at nothing to make sure your students were getting the best education they could receive, even amidst a global pandemic. We do not want to pretend the environment to teach and learn in has not been met with significant challenges and felt impossible at times. But you continue to motivate and move those around you. For decades, the education sector has been crying out for change in a variety of ways. I have been fortunate enough to work alongside music teachers who are innovative, challenging the status quo, and keeping focused on their mission—to serve all students through high quality learning.

In closing, remember to focus on the things you can control, like giving yourself grace, remembering your students are counting on you, and, at the very least, remembering why you became a teacher in the first place. Remember, you are impacting the lives of students for years to come.

With admiration,

Tiffany Kerns
CMA Foundation Executive Director

CMA Foundation We Will Teach

CMA Foundation Resources:

Raise awareness about the changes in music education and draw attention to the fact that music education is an important part of a well-rounded educational experience, by sharing this “We Will” video and visual tool with administrators and through social platforms.

YouTube video


To download and view free music lesson plans, visit CMAfoundation.org

To access educational webinars, click HERE.

To see research on the impact music education has on a student’s life, click HERE.

To keep up-to-date on all CMA Foundation and music education news, sign up for our Unified Voices for Music Education newsletter, HERE.

Follow CMA Foundation, here:


About the author:

Tiffany Kerns CMA FoundationA common thread throughout Tiffany Kerns’s career has been her dedication to creating meaningful change and advocacy for nonprofit organizations. Paired with a steadfast focus on improving the philanthropic model of giving, Kerns has led the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation in their mission of enriching music education programs across the United States, working to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in music. As executive director, Kerns is responsible for the growth, development, and execution of the nonprofit’s charitable investments by creating strategic partnerships, working with policy leaders, and implementing an impact-driven grant process. Kerns works with each grantee organization to provide strategic planning, compliance, project management, and community impact. She oversees advocacy efforts for the CMA Foundation at the state and federal level, which includes working with more than a dozen community partners to elevate the cause, and collaborates with key players within the music industry to bring these initiatives to fruition.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

November 5, 2020. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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Published Date

November 5, 2020


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November 5, 2020. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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