The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) leads the nation in spotlighting the importance of music education year round. Each March, NAfME ‘s annual celebration called Music In Our Schools Month,®(MIOSM®) gives music educators an opportunity to garner support for their local music programs
This year, music teachers led their students in song in school auditoriums, at state capitols and in shopping malls, demonstrating the benefits of learning music and the ways music empowers and enriches lives. The theme for 2013 is “Music Education – Orchestrating Success.”
NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer says success can measured in many ways. Music students, she says, develop self-discipline. A child who allots time to practice each day “is known to develop similar habits in other subjects. Organizational skills increase and students learn what it is like to be good at something.”
She also reinforces what several studies have proven, that playing in an ensemble leads to a different kind of learning for students by emphasizing teamwork. And when any student learns to read music or play an instrument, they “develop higher thinking skills, as well as skills for problem solving and analysis.”
In March, creative music educators orchestrated a variety of MIOSM celebrations. Here is a sampling of their activities:
The Galena Park, Texas school district held a poster contest for fifth grade students. The district noted that NAfME had designated March for MIOSM and reminded citizens that “school is where all children should have access to music.” Poster contest winners received a certificate, a ribbon, and an MIOSM pencil. The posters themselves can be seen at https://sites.google.com/site/galenaparkisdfinearts/music-in-our-schools-month.
In honor of NAfME’s Music in Our Schools Month, each year the Hillsborough County School Board proclaims the importance of music in public schools at its March meeting. The all-state chorus made up of students from eight areas opened the school board meeting on March 5 by singing the National Anthem.
Students and teachers in the Meade School District in Rapid City, South Dakota, participated in a variety of events. For example, the Meade County Tribune reported that the “Piedmont Valley Elementary spring music concert featured the K-2 students in an informational type program called “Informance,” that highlighted the music skills acquired by the students during the school year.
In Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, Northjersey.com reported that students at the Lenox School attended a special assembly where they watched themselves perform a song that appeared in NAfME’s Concert for Music In Our Schools Month®. This is the third time the school has participated in the concert.
In 2009 students sang “I’ll Make a Difference” at the Joe Louis Memorial, and in 2010 they tackled an old German folk song called “Horch, Was Kommt Von Draussen Rein,” at a home in Wayne. The performances appeared in NAfME’s concert video.
This year the students sang “The Power of Music,” which was written by student composer Sodasia Thompson. Music teacher Suzanne Piombo, an NAfME member, explained that this song describes the power of music, and how it touches the hearts and souls of people.
The Redoubt Reporter in Denai, Alaska, used Music in Our Schools Month to explore the role of music education schools. Sue Biggs, an NAfME member who teaches at Redoubt Elementary School, told the newspaper, “Often music is viewed as ‘the icing on the cake.’ Fluff, so to speak. Some view music time at school as merely a prep time for classroom teachers. Because it is not part of standardized testing, it is sometimes not taken seriously,” a perception she said needs to change.
She also told the Reporter: “Music and the arts are not ‘versus’ academics, they are inclusive. The arts can bring relationship between the child and academics. The goal behind standardized testing is to show that all children are getting the academics, but it has been researched and documented that all do not learn in the same manner.”
In the same article, Crista Cady, president-elect of the Alaska Music Educator’s Association, says ”The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children, and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community and to display the benefits school music brings to students of all ages.”
The Portsmouth (NH) News reported that in recognition of MIOSM “the city’s students are celebrating with a pair of concerts. The first featured vocal groups from Little Harbour, Dondero, New Franklin, Portsmouth middle and high schools.” The second concert featured instrumental groups, including the all-city Grade 5 band, the middle school’s eighth-grade band, and the jazz and concert bands from Portsmouth High School.
NAfME would like to hear from music educators who celebrated Music In Our Schools Month. Post information in the comments section or email to news editor Roz Fehr .
Roz Fehr, NAfME managing editor for news, April 5, 2013. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)