On Monday, March 7, members of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) traveled to Albany, New York, for the annual Joseph R. Sugar Day at the state capitol building. The late Joe Sugar was NYSSMA’s longtime government relations chairperson.
Legislative visits, a performance by all-state jazz choral and instrumental groups, a luncheon, and a reception filled the day for New York members. NYSSMA officials said this year’s visits took on a new urgency as the group responds to proposed state education funding cuts.
During legislative visits, NYSSMA members argued that all students have access to a “comprehensive, sequential, high-quality program of music taught by a qualified music teacher.”
Sugar Day is an important advocacy event for March, NYSSMA President Daniel L. Mosher said. “It is an excellent opportunity for our association to have a meaningful dialogue with our legislators and ask their support for legislation and budget items that are relevant for music education.”
Music In Our School Month® (MIOSM®) started as a one-day New York event in on March 14, 1973. MENC adopted the March celebration, and made it a national observance that now provides a month long emphasis on high-quality music programs.
This month, NYSSMA members are also providing legislators in Albany tangible, daily evidence of the fruits of a high-quality music program.
Each day in March, music ensembles from two different New York school districts are performing daily concerts near the capitol building. String ensembles, jazz combos, choral groups, concert bands from school districts around the state are participating.
In the March issue of NYSSMA’s School Music News, Mosher called MIOSM, “a celebration with purpose.”
Mosher urged NYSSMA members to promote MIOSM in March but added, “I hope you are taking advantage of any opportunity to publicize the importance of the study and performance of music as and integral part of every child’s education. And not just during the month of March but all year long.”
Thomas N. Gellert, School Music News editor, said NYSSMA members are facing not only budget issues, but also possible changes in curriculum, graduation credits, and other policies.
He wrote in the March issue: “NYSSMA is now engaged in the process of change going on before us. While our association may not have control over what seems inevitable, NYSSMA will be at the table as plans are discussed concerning assessment and evaluation of music educators and programs in New York state in the days, weeks, months and years to come.”
MENC also believes, like NYSSMA members, that March is a time for advocacy for all music educators—just like the other 11 months of the year.
Sugar was an NYSSMA president and an MENC Eastern Division President. His music education career spanned more than 50 years as both a music educator and music education advocate. A trumpet and string bass player who worked with major recording artists, he was director of bands at Indiana University in Bloomington, and was band director at several New York high schools.
Check back soon for event photos.
—Roz Fehr, March 11, 2011. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education