In March, state Music Education Association (MEA) leaders and members visited state capitols across the United States, seeking legislative support for music education. In addition, many of the MEAs also worked with state legislators to pass resolutions acknowledging the 30th Anniversary of Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®). MIOSM is a program of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). The MEAs are NAfME affiliates.
During legislative office visits, MEA leaders discussed their music education legislative asks. They also grabbed the attention of legislators and state house visitors with musical performances of all kinds, including choirs, military bands, ukulele strummers, and students making music on Orff instruments. In many cases, legislators shared their own music education experiences.
- In Utah, a former NBA player gave a keynote address, discussing how he combined music and sports in high schools.
- Before Kansas MEA leaders made office visits in Kansas, they offered legislators breakfast from a popular restaurant frequented by state house workers.
- The Florida Music Educator Association gave its members tips on how to talk to legislators in Tallahassee: Question: I’m not very comfortable with [legislative visits], but I want to know more. Where do I start? Answer: “The first step is to recognize that legislators are just people and have no way to know everything about everything. If we want them to know more about music education, the only way that can happen is for us to provide them information.”
Here are some March highlights from around the country:
FMEA offers numerous tools on its website, including talking points for legislative asks; a Music Advocacy Brochure, and tips on how to demystify reaching out to legislators.
“In addition to legislative visits, on March 18, FMEA also held an Arts and Culture Day on the top floor of the state Capitol in Tallahassee. That floor serves as an art gallery and overlooks the the city. Guests were greeted by the carefree strumming of the Tallahassee Uke Group, a diverse group of ukulele players.
For additional information and photos from FMEA Arts & Culture Day visit this page.
“Our goal for Music In Our Schools Month® was to use the 30th anniversary as an opportunity to revive grassroots discussions about the value of Music Education. As a result, we reached out to partners receiving a free ad placement with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, doing radio appearances, and working on getting the proclamation done.
“In doing so, we were able to identify many ‘friends’ within the legislature, including a former Board Member who is now the special assistant to the House Minority Leader and a freshman representative who is a music educator. We will use this to continue furthering our goals of increased awareness about music education in the legislature and beyond!”
Here is a resolution adopted by the Indiana General Assembly proclaiming March as Music In Our Schools Month.
Rep. Melanie Wright authored the resolution, and 21 other legislators co-authored it. Wright, who represents Indiana House District 35, is an award-winning veteran teacher who currently teaches high school dance, choir, and K-5th grade music in the Daleville Community Schools.
Lane Valeyo, IMEA Executive Director
“On Thursday March 12th, the Kansas Music Educators Association hosted the first annual Music Day at the Capitol featuring performances by the Washburn University Jazz Combo and the 1st Infantry Division Brass Ensemble. The groups performed on the 2nd floor rotunda during the lunch hour as dozen of legislators and their staff listened from the railings above.
“KMEA Executive Director John Taylor said the music could be heard inside the Kansas House Chamber as legislators were in session. Ironically, our visit to the Capitol coincided with the House debate over school financing, Senate Bill 7.
“The leaders of KMEA and members of Collegiate NAfME hosted a breakfast for legislators on the 4th floor of the Capitol. The breakfast was catered by Juli’s Coffee and Bistro, a local eatery frequented by legislators and the Governor. Legislators dropped by to pick up coffee and breakfast and to share stories about the importance of music in their lives with several mentioning their involvement in past KMEA honor groups. The proclamation from Governor Sam Brownback was on display declaring March as ‘Music in Our Schools Month’.
“Following the breakfast, copies of the NAfME Broader MindedTM brochure were distributed to the offices of House and Senate. The NAfME brochure highlights how music helps educate the whole student and that ‘Bubble Test’ can only measure so much.
“Throughout the day, KMEA leaders met with supporters of music education, including the Kansas Interim Commissioner of Education, Brad Neuenswander, Kansas State Board of Education Vice-Chair, Carolyn L. Wims-Campbell, and a key member of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Vicki Schmidt.
Mike Quilling, KMEA Government Relations Chair
“On March 17th, the Michigan Music Education Association (MMEA) celebrated the inaugural Music Education Advocacy Day in Lansing, Michigan. This ev
ent was created in partnership with the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) and the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) to bring awareness to the need for quality, sequential music education in all PreK-12 Michigan schools.
“Our delegation, which consisted of 4-12 people at different times during the day, conducted meetings with 5 legislators and 2 aides throughout the day. We also did a drop-in, and made a presentation to the state board of education. In addition, we hosted 3 performing ensembles at a lunchtime concert in the Capitol rotunda. These ensembles represented music programs from across Michigan, and included the Hayes Middle School Select Men’s Choir, the Northwest Elementary School Orffestra, and the Okemos High School Freshman String Quartet. Parents, legislative aides, and numerous legislators attended the event, with the total audience between 150-200 people.
“We proposed 3 legislative asks:
- A mandate for elementary instruction
- Improved music teacher evaluations representative of music content, and conducted by persons with music expertise
- A requirement that all music classes PreK-12 be taught by a JX or JQ certified music educator
Cory L. Micheel-Mays, MMEA Executive Director
Visit this page for other photos of the day.
Led by President Gary Brandes, a delegation of the Missouri Music Educators Association held its MMEA Music Advocacy Day on March 11, visiting state representatives and senators.
Visit the Missouri Music Educators Association Facebook page to see photos of MMEA leaders with legislators at the state capitol in Jefferson City.
Members of the New York State School Association visited legislators at the state capitol during the 42nd annual Joseph R. Sugar Day. Sugar was NYSSMA president and government relations chairman. The late Sugar was also NAfME Eastern Division president.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a 2015 proclamation honoring NYSSMA and Music In Our Schools Month. The document proclaims March 2015 as Music In Our Schools Month®.
The New York proclamation continues a 1973 tradition when NYSSMA received a proclamation for the first Music In Our Schools Day. NYSSMA also continued another long-standing New York tradition, that of school music groups performing at the state capitol in Albany throughout the month of March.
“On March 4th, PMEA leaders met with leaders in the General Assembly and received a proclamation from Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (a former music teacher) designating March as Music In Our Schools Month®. Our meetings with members of the General Assembly left us feeling very hopeful that the days of cuts to education are nearing their end. The devil is still in the details but this is the most optimistic reaction we’ve heard from policy makers in recent years.
Pashinski acknowledged the 30th anniversary of Music In Our Schools Month®, hosted a press conference recognizing the importance of music in our schools, and acknowledged music educators across the commonwealth. House Resolution 44 designated March 2015 as Music in Our Schools Month in Pennsylvania. Watch a video of his press conference.
Visit this page for more information.
Former Utah Jazz Power forward/center Thurl Bailey delivered the keynote address at the annual Utah Music Educators Capitol Hill Day, March 4, 2015. Bailey spoke about the importance of music in his life.
Now a sports commentator, composer, and recording artist (5 albums), Bailey spoke of his high school days in Bladensburg, Maryland, playing Sousaphone and trombone in the band and singing in the Madrigal Choir. He said he would sometimes play the National Anthem with the band, wearing his basketball uniform, and then take the court for the game.
Other speakers included UMEA President Sam Tsugawa; UMEA Advocacy Chair Christine Wolf; Utah State Board of Education Arts Specialist Cathy Jensen; and American Association of Orchestras Chair Pat Richards.
A number of groups performed, including the Westlake High School Band brass section, directed by Brek Mangelson, which played the National Anthem; the Weber State University Jazz Band, directed by Shannon Roberts; and the Woods Cross High School Orchestra, directed by Sara Jane Thompson.
All photos courtesy of the respective state MEAs.
Roz Fehr, NAfME Communications Content Developer, April 9, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)