Advocacy – Where to Begin?

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    I teach in an urban school district that has had very strong support of the arts for many years. I really didn’t think we needed to worry about cuts. That has recently changed, and I’d like to ask advice for how to be pro-active in keeping our art and music programs. I am reading research by Benham. My real question is – how do we organize and communicate and enlist support across the board with parents, teachers, administration and students who value the arts? This all seems very overwhelming and I’m not sure where to begin. But I do know we need to start, and soon.

    Any tips, or advice on who to talk to, what to read, etc…? I will, of course explore the advocacy info on this website. But I am very interested, in particular, with what elementary general music teachers are doing, since we (and choral teachers) are sometimes the most vulnerable to cuts.


    Please do check out our advocacy info, especially the How-to Advocacy Resources (

    Each “Get the Message!” flyer is directed to a different audience: parents, elementary principals, secondary principals, and school boards.
    The “Advocacy Grab and Go” flyer has “crisis management” on one side and “proactive strategy” on the other.

    John Benham’s book, Music Advocacy: Moving from Survival to Vision, provides step-by-step procedures for organizing and enlisting support ro save and build school music programs.

    Good luck!
    Linda Brown
    NAfME Staff


    I would suggest requesting a hallway bulletin board for music advocacy. Ask your principal if you could even just put up a makeshift board near the entrance / lobby area. This means tape poster paper to the wall, tape a border around it, and tape documents and pictures to the paper. (You just have to keep an eye on it; tape gives out and paper sags.) Put up quotes about music education – easy to google. There are tons out there from musicians, famous people and plenty of non-musicians about the impact Music instruction had on them. There’s also tons of research out there on the benefits of music programs (see NAfME advocacy section). But if you want people to actually read it, I would print out excerpts in larger print on colorful paper and then post with a bold title / headline. Make a note that if people want the entire article, they can contact you.

    I personally love quotes. I printed out about a dozen nice quotes in Word in large print to take up a page, pasted them on construction paper and laminated them. Been using them for years!! I put them up on my hallway bulletin board in September until I have work to put up, and again in March for MIOSM.

    I was googling a short article which I have in hard copy, but not electronic, and is a great advocacy tool. In the mean time I found this great site:

    Finally – here it is – the best advocacy tool!! (I’m a little partial. A college prof gave this out with instructions to use it if ever our programs were in danger of being cut.

    As per parent involvement, find a few parents who believe in your program and are willing to help share positive things about the Music program with other parents. Seriously, the power of chatter is immense. (telegraph, telephone, tell a woman lol) I work in an inner-city school and have become close with the PTO parents. They tell me what others think of goings on in the school and my class / program. It IS very hard to find parents who care and are available to help, but the ones you do get will generally be very dedicated. If your school has a PTO/A, ask the person in charge for the organization’s help in promoting your program. They have access to resources and parent lists, great way to reach lots of parents!!!

    One more thing: have your kids perform! That’s the best advocacy, some have said. You want to keep your job and one of the big things you do is teach kids to sing and play well. Ask your principal if your kids can perform at the open house night. They could sing in the lobby / entry as people are walking in. Or if your principal has the parents sit down to introduce staff before sending the parents to classrooms, your students could perform a couple short songs then. possibly also at PTO events / meetings. I believe that my district occasionally has student performances at the Board of Ed meetings downtown.

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