MENC member and second-year music teacher Nicole Bell wears two hats at the William Street School in Lancaster, New York—both general music teacher and orchestra teacher for grades 4-6.
A few weeks ago, Bell took on yet another role—that of music education advocate. As Bell explains:
“This year, I tried to make a grand celebration out of Music In Our Schools® Month. In the Lancaster Central School District, we are so very fortunate to have so many great programs in the arts and the parental support is amazing.” Bell’s Web site reflects that enthusiasm.
“As I was searching the MENC Web site for advocacy resources during the month of March, I came across the Petition for Equal Access to Music Education. I had already signed the petition at our state [music educators] conference, and was about to ignore it, when this crazy idea of having a petition signing contest came into my head.
“Sixteen general music classes participated in the contest. We spent an entire lesson discussion on on why music was important to us and what William Street School would be like if we our administration suddenly told us, ‘Music is not important, so we are getting rid of all music programs.’ “
“We talked about the word ‘advocacy’ and what could be accomplished through the signing of a petition. Students asked family, friends, teachers, students and anyone who also felt that music was an essential part of public education to sign. We discussed how important it was to explain why each person’s individual signature was important to our cause and how we should explain this to those we are asking to sign.”
“The students essentially learned how many people in our community believe in the importance of music, and they also learned what kind of work was needed to be accomplished in order for us as citizens to better our daily lives. One particular class obtained over 400 signatures from people in the community!”
Petitions will be presented at MENC’s Rally for Music Education on June 18.
Photo by Carrie Rose
—Roz Fehr, April 30, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education