From Capitol Hill to the Music Classroom: One Collegiate’s Testimony

Alabama Student Teacher Takes Collegiate Advocacy Summit Lessons to the Classroom

NAfME Member Spotlight


Last year, the passion and engagement of National Association for Music Education (NAfME) members helped lead to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which President Obama signed into law in December. It will help more students get access to music education. Now collegiate NAfME members are learning how that advocacy makes a difference in the classroom.

For the next steps, future music educators from throughout the United States will come to Washington, D.C., June 22-24, 2016, for NAfME’s annual Collegiate Advocacy Summit, which will include visits to Capitol Hill.

In addition to visits to Congressional offices, the event will offer mentoring and professional development that will empower future music teachers to be effective advocates for music education. Visit the Hill Day website for more information and to register for the Collegiate Advocacy Summit.

Mai Yamane, a University of Alabama Collegiate member attended the Summit in 2014 and 2015, and she shares her experiences.

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Mai Yamane
Photo courtesy of Mai Yamane


Where did you go to high school? Did you have a music teacher who inspired you to pursue a career in music education?

My family moved from Japan to Rome, Georgia, when I was in 6th grade. I suffered from having a language barrier, but music is what kept me happy at school. My high school band director pushed me to be more involved in the band program, and it allowed me make friends and learn to speak English. My experience as an ESL student led me to choose music education as a career to provide a nice environment for students who may also be having a hard time in school.

Please discuss the University of Alabama, where you go to school, and the NAfME Collegiate Chapter there.

I am currently finishing up my student internship. Our chapter has a close relationship with the University Bands, and they provide us with many learning opportunities. The Collegiate members often help run events hosted on campus and conduct many observations.  

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Mai Yamane works with students in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Mai Yamane


How have student teaching experiences differed from what you learned in the classroom?

It can be nerve-wracking to know that the students are relying on me to learn each day. My knowledge on instructional strategies and classroom management can sometimes fly out the window when I’m nervous, but the university and my internship mentors have been preparing me well to be the best teacher that I can be.

You’ve attended the Collegiate Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. Why did you participate?

I have attended the Summit twice. I was not expecting an invitation from the Alabama Music Educators Association the first year, but I was happy and honored to attend the event. I returned to the Hill on the second year after learning the importance of advocacy for my career and the students. 

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Mai Yamane (bottom left) on Capitol Hill with Alabama Music Educators Association President Carl Hancock (top center) and other AMEA Hill Day delegation members. (Photo courtesy Mai Yamane)


What was it like to go to Capitol Hill?

It was incredible to be a part of the process of passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act. It was such a pleasure to share my passion with the legislators and explain why music education is important.

What was your experience interacting with other NAfME Collegiate members?

It was powerful to meet many collegiate members, from New Jersey to California, who had the same passion as I. I got together again with some of them at the NAfME National In-Service Conference [in Nashville last October], and we shared stories about our advocacy works since Hill Day.

How do you think the Collegiate Advocacy Summit will prepare you to go into the classroom and head up your own music program one day?

The experience on the Hill taught me the importance of providing well-rounded music education to every student. My goal is to monitor students closely and be able to provide necessary resources for each student. I would also like to work with my students and plan Music in Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®) concerts to continue advocating for music education. I also learned that advocates for music education should be actively involved in schools and familiar with education agendas and budgetary issues. I believe knowing this information first hand will improve discussions of new and ongoing policy directives with our representatives.

I learned so much about advocacy during the Summit, and I am excited to be able to incorporate this knowledge in my training as a pre-service music educator.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your Summit experience? What would you say to a student who might be considering participating?

NAfME works hard every day to ensure every child receives well-rounded music education. I highly encourage collegiate members to attend the summit and participate in your role of advocacy. It is important to familiarize yourself with bills and current events. It’s helpful during job interviews and to ensure that you can provide the best for your students.



Want ideas to help fund your Hill Day trip? NAfME offers some tips.

Roz Fehr, March 23, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (