Massachusetts Music Teacher Uses Advocacy to Grow His Music Program

Former MENC Collegiate member Tony Beatrice is in the third year of his teaching career. During that time, he and colleagues in the Pentucket (Massachusetts) Regional School District have greatly increased the visibility of the music programs in the district.

Tony Beatrice and his revitalized band

Photo by Pentucket students Allison Cashman, Kaitlin Worobey, Janessa Mullen, and Caitlin Belanger

The achievements, led by Beatrice, include doubling the size of the high school band and increasing the number of music students throughout the district. To advocate for music programs, Pentucket music educators:

  • have one Website for the entire district instrumental music program. That makes it easy for community members to access.
  • work hard to get as many items as possible into the newspaper and on their website, including students who make districts ensembles, accomplishments and awards within the music departments, even parades.
  • initiated parent and community programs.

Beatrice is director of instrumental music and music technology for Pentucket Regional Middle School and High School in West Newbury, Massachusetts.

He makes it a point to work closely with classroom teachers at his school. He suggests music educators “visit regular classroom teachers and talk to them as much as possible…this will get you more support within your building.”

The photo that accompanies this article is an example of that kind of synergy. Students undertook a joint project after Beatrice asked the photography teacher to take a photo. Students then worked together on the photo assignment.

As an energetic, active MENC collegiate chapter president, he learned the need for such advocacy. “Unfortunately it is not so much that we should advocate, but that we have to advocate as our jobs depend on it. There will always be English and math and we need to advocate that Music and the Arts are core as well,” he said.

He offered a few suggestions for those interested in honing their advocacy efforts:

  • Try your best to get arts advocates elected to your school board/school committee. Often these people make the ultimate decisions about budget cuts.
  • Compare your program to other successful programs. If you can give [elected officials] examples of what other districts are doing successfully, they will be more likely to honor your request.
  •  When teachers are away for music conferences, post reflections of the clinics attended so that parents, students and other community members can track what you are learning.
  • Make it a yearly tradition to have a school district music ensemble perform for school officials.
  • Make your Web page attractive with pictures, calendar information, and videos.

MENC advocates for its members and offers tips for  music teachers who want to get involved.

How do you advocate for your music program? Let MENC know through January 31.

Read advocacy tips from music teachers around the United States and from MENC staff.

Discuss the topic in MENC’s advocacy forums.

Roz Fehr, January 21, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education