NAfME & Rep. Alcee Hastings – "Protect Military Music Ensembles"

On September 7, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20) sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense, urging them to preclude language that curtails military music ensembles from the final Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations bill.

“Some of the most iconic American musicians, including Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and John Coltrane, have served in military bands, cementing the legacies of their respective ensembles as American traditions. Today, military musicians are among the most talented, accomplished, and respected in the United States. In choosing to perform in uniform, they exemplify service as emissaries of the Armed Forces. We should be doing everything we can to promote and support the ensembles they are part of.”

-Representative Alcee L. Hastings

The letter, endorsed by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), is a direct response to an amendment, created by Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ-2), to the House’s Defense Appropriations bill that could cut military band funding by $430 million in Fiscal Year 2017.  NAfME Executive Director & CEO released a statement on the subject in June:

“United States military bands serve our nation with dedication and integrity.  They provide music throughout the entire spectrum of operations, to instill in our forces the will, to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote America’s interests at home and abroad. United States military bands have as their duty to “inspire patriotism and encourage young men and women to serve in the Air Force or other branches of the military.” In other words, their work is to support the Defense Department’s goal of increasing recruits for the Air Force and other armed forces of the United States.”

-Mike Blakeslee, Executive & CEO, NAfME

Joining Congressman Hastings in sighing the letter include 10 additional members in Congress, including:

 Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC-3)   Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1) 
 Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-25)   Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-GA-2) 
 Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10)  Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL-5)
 Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29)  Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33)
 Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY-5)  Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30)

In addition, 16 members of NAfME’s Music Education Policy Roundtable joined NAfME in endorsing the letter, which includes:

music education

 The National Association for Music Parents  Music for All
 The Recording Academy  National Association for Music Merchants
 Drum Corps International  Winter Guard International
 League of American Orchestras  Quadrant Arts Research
 Organization of American Kodaly Educators  American Orff-Schulwerk Association
 VH1 Save The Music Foundation  Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity
 Music Teachers National Association  The Gordon Institute for Music Learning
The National Music Council  Strathmore

Pictured: U.S. Army - The Jazz Ambassadors Photo courtesy of Loran McClung, loran.mcclung@gmail.comPictured: U.S. Army – The Volunteers

Photo courtesy of Loran McClung,

In addition to our advocacy work in ensuring “Well-Rounded” programs are fully funded under the Every Student Succeeds Act, NAfME will continue to monitor the appropriations process very closely regarding the McSally amendment.  We urge the Appropriations Committee to follow the example of these members in Congress, and support the fine men and women a part of our military bands and other music ensembles.

A full copy of the letter can be found here. You can also find a copy of the press release issued by the Office of Congressman Hastings here.

Ronny Lau, Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, September 8, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (