One NAfME Collegiate Member’s
Collegiate Advocacy Summit Experience
A Look Back at NAfME Hill Day 2018
By NAfME Collegiate Member Amanda King
This article first appeared on Amanda King’s blog.
I had the opportunity in June 2018 to attend Hill Day with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and I want to share my experience and what I learned here! I also had the opportunity to see some of the sights in Washington, D.C., but I wish I had more time. There was so much, and I barely scratched the surface, especially with the Smithsonian museums. One day I plan to go back.
Being a future music teacher, I realized that I didn’t have the skills or knowledge about music education advocacy, so when this opportunity arose for me to be able to travel to D.C. to learn more about advocacy, I took the chance! And let me tell you, it really paid off.
Networking and Training
The first day of the Collegiate Advocacy Summit was spent getting to know the other people who attended. I was a part of the Utah group, but had not previously known any of the other individuals from Utah, so I came to the Summit not knowing anyone. I was unsure as to why we needed to spend time getting to know the other collegiates there, since I wasn’t going to see them again, but I was wrong. I now have more of a support group in Utah where we can work together to promote music education in the state. I was able to meet people from a variety of states and understand what colleges and music education is like within their states. I was so thrilled to learn a great deal from just conversing with other collegiates.
The second day of the Summit took place at the NAfME office building in Virginia. This was a day of heavy information, but a day of great value. It started off with leadership training, advocacy training, and then forums in the afternoon.
The leadership training, given by Russ Sperling (NAfME Western Division Immediate Past-President), focused on four principles:
- Culture and Climate
- Action with Integrity
During this session, he recommended some different books that have helped him, and provided some great examples of things that he was able to accomplish. He helped me think about what I can to do to be more of a leader for my future students.
“Advocacy is not something that you do; it is something that you are.” Whatever it may be that you are passionate about, don’t just advocate for it every once in a while—but always. It is important with music education that you get involved in the community and help the community get involved with you. Know what is going on; attend meetings and local events. As we reach out, the little things that we do can add up and become something great over time—because if we don’t do something, it’s not going to change.
“Advocacy is not something that you do; it is something that you are.”
With advocacy, it is important to learn what policies exist in your current state, and how that affects music education. Because data informs advocacy, advocacy informs policy, policy creates change, and change leads to more students involved, which is the end goal. Some states have requirements for a student to take a year or two of language, while some states don’t require a music teacher to be a certified teacher, so it is important to know. Whenever you invest your time for advocacy, you must remember that it is better to put the least amount of pressure in a spot that will generate the greatest change. So when going to advocate and actively talking to people, spend the time where it is needed. And remember how to address your specific audience, because that matters.
Arts Ed Now had 10 tips for getting started in becoming an agent of change.
- Know the Landscape
- Connect with Others
- Identify the Need
- Explore the Tools and Resources
- Make a Plan
- Craft Your Message
- Launch the Plan
- Refine the Plan
- Stay Informed
- Celebrate Success
In one of the forums I learned a great deal about working with administration in school—because, after all, they are the bosses. Changes have to be made through them, and respect must exist from you to them, and from them to you. When you are striving for change and you are told no, do not blow it off, but ask why—and continue to ask, in a non-threatening way. As we work together with teachers, parents, government, and administration, change can occur. It takes time, but it can happen.
Learning How to Advocate for Music Education
The third and final day took place on Capitol Hill. The day began with a meeting and an address from New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. Then all of the participants broke off into their state groups, and went to meet with the staff of their state senators and congressmen/congresswomen. The Utah delegation met with the staff of Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Congressman Chris Stewart, Congressman Rob Bishop, Congresswoman Mia Love, and Congressman John Curtis.
Through the course of these meetings I was able to learn while doing. I learned how to be able to talk to politicians to ask for support for what you need. You have to have knowledge of the laws and acts for which you want support, and you need to provide real examples of the benefits of what you are asking for. As collegiates, we were able to provide our stories and experiences, and even the hopes that we have for the future. I now know how to better converse with politicians, and probably even parents, in expressing what I desire for the future, and how laws and acts can help change the future.
Why I Want to Teach
I want to share, very briefly, why I am pursuing music education as a career. Growing up, I really enjoyed learning about music. It was something that from the very beginning I hungered to learn more, and accelerated in my knowledge of very quickly. But once I started performing it became so much more for me: It became a way to express myself, when outside of music I could not or didn’t know how to.
Learning music, performing music, and listening to music has gotten me through some good times, and pulled me through some hard times. Being involved in different groups or shows has saved me from losing track of myself. Then I learned how much music connects with the world. It connects across all countries, and all aspects of life. With music you learn about science, history, languages, mathematics, and culture. So for me music connects me to myself, and also to people—the people around me, the people across the world, and people across time. I want to help others be able to see music in the same way, and learn about all that music has to offer, because it is great.
I want to help others be able to see music in the same way, and learn about all that music has to offer, because it is great.
Representing Utah Valley University (UVU), Utah, and music education was such a joy for me to do while in D.C. I learned a great deal, and I really look forward to implementing all of what I learned at this Summit. I am grateful for those who helped me get there. Here’s to the future of music education!
Photos courtesy of Amanda King.
About the author:
NAfME Collegiate member Amanda King originally comes from Colorado, and is currently attending Utah Valley University. Along with pursuing a choral music education degree, she is involved in her community with community musicals and coaching wheelchair basketball. As a Colorado native she enjoys spending a great deal of time outside in all seasons. Visit her blog here.
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