Music Teachers Discuss the Role Music Booster Groups Play (Or Don't Play)

In January, 2011, MENC members responded to a non-scientific, self-selected poll about booster groups. Members were asked if they enlist boosters to do more than just raise funds for the music program.

When asked if a parent support group has promoted the school music program to school officials, members responded:

  • Yes, occasionally: 10% percent
  • Yes, often: 10%
  • Yes, once: 3%
  • No, how do we make that happen? 20.5%
  • No, we don’t have a booster or parent support group: 43%
  • No, we have never had to make our case to school officials: 12%

The survey also asked music teachers to describe their advocacy experiences, in particular with parent or community support groups. Among the responses:

• This school year, our department (Fine Arts and World Language) began publishing a newsletter that could be distributed in the community and make us more present beyond the walls of the school. We’re trying to take a proactive stance so that things don’t get out of control before we can do anything about it.

• When our school’s budgets were cut, the music boosters club stepped up and raised funds to restore the programs. They restored most of the band positions, they are working on the choir [positions] and the elementary program is still on hold. Interesting part—when we had the money, the school didn’t want to accept it!

• Our Friends of Music attend Board of Education and Town Council meetings throughout the year to speak up on behalf of the music program.

• The Student Council last year attended the Board of Education meetings and spoke up on behalf of many programs, however all mentioned the music program as an important part of their high school education.

• In our county, arts are cherished, so there has never been a need for advocacy.

• When we tried to convince our school board to give GPA credit for all high school students for every music class they take, our booster group called 30 schools in the state to ascertain how they gave credit. The board voted to give the credit!

• I believe biggest advocacy stories are a combination of things. Some are the students who are now music majors who weren’t considering a music career as a sophomore or junior in high school. Some are the students who shone in state groups even though that didn’t think they were nearly good enough. Some are the parents [who told the music teacher] I am the only reason their child stayed in school and graduated.

• I asked to have the different performance groups perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the opening of their board meetings and was ignored.

See MENC’s February Question of the Month, about the effect of Glee on music programs.

Share your experiences with advocacy and other issues on the MENC forums.

Roz Fehr, February 10, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education