"National Arts and Humanities Month": Sharing Music Education's Impact On A National Stage

On September 30th the Whitehouse named October “National Arts and Humanities Month” for 2014. In the proclamation the arts and humanities are cited as telling our country’s story and broadening thinking, saying that this October is a time for Americans to reflect on the contribution the arts have made to our lives. While the importance of arts education is mentioned in passing this presents an opportunity to share your story about the role music education has played in your life and to encourage your community to do the same.

NAfME created the “Share Your Story” feature at www.BroaderMinded.com, where-user submitted stories have been presented directly to Congress and quoted in advocacy materials. We decided to share a few recent submissions to the site and encourage you to share your story not only on our site but with your community. 


“My choir teacher changed my life. She was the first person to tell me that I had a promising future as a singer and performer. Mrs. Adkins was the one who pushed me to succeed. The first time I had ever auditioned for a solo, I was petrified. She asked me to stay after class and said, “Olivia, I know you are scared, but I believe in you. You can do this.” I never got that solo, but she gave me the confidence to push through and try again. If she had never encouraged me to sing, I’m not sure I would be a Music Major. Thanks to this wonderful teacher, I am chasing my dreams and I know for sure that they will give me life time of stories, laughs, and smiles.”

–Olivia    Winchester, Virginia


“I never thought highly about myself, I was constantly sad or depressed about not living up to some sort of expectation. I looked forward to band every day because it was the only class where I could let frustration out without having to use the words I couldn’t think of. ….In marching band, I was given leadership roles and had people depending on me to be there every day and to be my best.”

Anonymous    Michigan


“When I was in secondary school, I was one of the only kids I sang with that didn’t have two parents who provided them with a house, a car, and a job. It was a very affluent area, and we were the have-nots. All the stresses that come with serious poverty were present. My mother drank heavily under the weight of depression from disability and unemployment, so I pretty much raised myself. That didn’t matter in choir. I had an outlet. I excelled. I was accepted as part of a community that may otherwise have not let me in. These friends and their families let me stay with them when things were bad at home. They made sure I had rides to all practices and performances. All I had to do was ask, and they were there. Recent studies show that participating in music programs supports increased empathic ability over peers who do not make music. This anecdote speaks to that. They could have decided that I was different and scary. Instead, we bonded for life. Now, I teach music in a high poverty school. I get to help kids like me feel valued and successful every day.”

Caitlin    Wenatchee, WA


“I teach choir at the middle school level. There is a high level of poverty in my district, and all of the difficulties associated with poverty affect my students. One student in particular, I will refer to her as Eve (not her real name) is much affected by her family’s poverty. Her father is incarcerated, her mother is in rehab. Eve lives with an Aunt. I noticed Eve’s grades in most subjects were terrible. I knew Eve to be bright and capable. Her grades were crashing because she thought no one expected her to do well; I did. Using the relationship I had built up with her in my music program, I convinced her that, just like in choir, her participation in her other classes was important. Her voice was missing from her other classes and that was why she was failing. She made the connection that individual effort contributed to our choir success. She and I knew her capable of high quality work. With my daily input and help, she worked to correct her grades. She went from “failing” marks in her classes to a high “B” average. She is now confident, recognizes that her efforts are rewarded, staying in school, and most importantly, dedicated to NOT making the mistakes her parents have in the past.”

–Anonymous WA


“Several years ago I had a student in my 6th grade band class. She had a difficult home life and didn’t always do well in school. One day she told me, if it wasn’t for band, she wouldn’t even show up to school. I had heard stories similar to this at the high school level, but it absolutely shocked me to hear this from an elementary student.”

Anonymous    MT


“My family moved to the U.S. when I was in sixth grade. The only English words I knew were “hello” and “bathroom”. I was assigned band for one of the elective courses because I was in a brass band when I was in Japan. Every day when I went to school, band was the relief of my day because I didn’t have to struggle communicating with teachers and classmates. Soon I became attached to a corner of the band room, I sat there and read Japanese books when I had some free time. Life changing moment happened in seventh grade when my band director, Mr. Seth Bates, asked if I wanted to attend the County Honor Band. That honor band is when I first met a girl who became my best friend. After the honor band, I began to engage in band and other school activities because I now had something to look forward to. I no longer cried at home because school was so tough. When I entered high school, I joined the marching band. As a girl who had never been good at sports, I learned about teamwork and leadership through marching band. An anti-social girl who sat in the corner of the band room in six grade graduated high school with titles of Assistant Band Captain and Drum Major for the marching band. Music changed my life. I would not be majoring in Music Education and attending NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit if it was not for the joy that music provided me when I was little. I would not be who I am now if it was not for music.”

Mai   Tuscaloosa, Alabama


“”Music means the world to me, a world of opportunity. A chance to reach down deep inside, and find the rhythm, find the rhyme. Music means the world to me, a chance to sing in melody. With voices joined together, we will live in perfect harmony.” Those were words shared with me back at Unity Elementary School in Wisconsin. It was one of the first school-taught songs that has stuck with me throughout my life. I, to this day, continue to find myself humming this tune while I am walking, doing yard work, or even if I just need a “pick me up.”

Rebecca    Clear Lake, IA


“In my late twenties after running a summer day camp for many years and having trouble with swim instructors I decided to get my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor rating. The rest of the class was in their late teens and I was the “old” man of the class. I kept up well with the class, but one day when we were being rated on our butterfly strokes the instructor pulled me over with her clip board. She looked perplexed and asked, “I’ve watched you these past few weeks and when you are in the pool practicing you are one of the weakest students, but when you swim to be rated you are one of the strongest. What is going on?” I replied, “I’m a musician, when I practice I keep going over the weakest part of my performance. When you take out the clipboard to rate me I apply what I have practiced and perform at my peak” What we give our students when we teach practice habits car
ries over to other areas of life. I left teaching for a few years and sold and designed office interiors, I quickly rose to one of the top salesmen in our corporation, again these practice skills paid off in my sales presentations. I wouldn’t use this as a reason to justify Music Education as I believe Bennett Reimer has it correct when he states we teach music for its specialness and Aesthetics. We can however also share the extra musical benefits of the gift of music education.”

Glenn     Castleton, VT


Read the entire Presidential Proclamation: here 

We want to let our communities and lawmakers alike know how vital music education is for students and for our society,

Be sure to “Share Your Story