Advocating Music Education for All – NAfME Hill Day 2016

On June 23, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) capped off its annual Hill Day event, with nearly 300 music education advocates coming to Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress and their staff. With no surprise, the music education community marched onto Capitol Hill in full force, continuing to demonstrate its advocacy prowess.

NAfME Hill Day 2016 Recap from NAfME on Vimeo.

Video: MDFilms |

NAfME Celebratory Congressional Briefing 

NAfME Hill Day 2016 began with a Congressional Briefing, which featured more than 200 attendees. This year’s briefing took more of a celebratory route due to the passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA). To kick it off, NAfME honored Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) each with NAfME’s “Stand for Music Award” for their extraordinary work in the creation and passage of ESSA, which lists music as part of a “Well-Rounded Education.” In addition, NAfME was joined by several guests of honor who spoke on the importance of music education, including:


Sen. Lamar Alexander
Photo: Mark Finkenstaedt | Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) speaking to 2016 Hill Day Delegates

A New World for Music Education, Appropriations Public Policy

Although ESSA marks a moment for celebration and an unprecedented step forward for music education, the fight continues on for music educators as NAfME now joins the fray in the federal appropriations dialogue.  Throughout the day, our 50 member delegations participated in meetings with their Representatives and Senators advocating the importance fully funding Well-Rounded programs within ESSA. In order to actualize the vision created by ESSA, proper funding of these programs will maximize the law’s effectiveness, creating ample funding opportunities to increase the access of music education for all students, regardless of circumstance.

This year, NAfME Hill Day’s Legislative Agenda consisted of:

  1. Support Access to Music Education for the Most Disadvantaged Students by Fully Funding Title I, Part A
    • Title I, Part A programs, both school-wide and targeted, are now available to provide supplemental funds for a well-rounded education, including music.
  2. Support Professional Development for Music Educators by Fully Funding Title I, Part A, Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A and F
    • These funds may be used to support professional development for music educators, as part of supporting a “Well-rounded Education.”
  3. Support Access to Music Education as Part of a Well-Rounded Education by Fully Funding Title IV, Part A (SSAEG)
    • This new formula-funded block-grant may be used in part to improve access to music education, and in turn, to support not only student success, but also the promotion of constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
NAfME - 2016 Advocacy Meeting
Photo: Mark Finkenstaedt |

Over 200 meetings with congressional offices were conducted during NAfME Hill Day 2016, surpassing last year’s results and becoming our largest and most successful Hill Day in history.  Of our 300 music education advocates, 97 consisted of NAfME collegiate members, which is the largest number of collegiate advocates we have had to date. Our collegiate members represent the future the profession and the Association, making them an integral part in Hill Day’s efforts.

Others that joined our efforts on the Hill included our special guests from Crossroads Quartet, Kristian Bush, Charlie Worsham, and board members of the Country Music Association education

In addition, members of NAfME’s Music Education Policy Roundtable participated in Hill Day, including:

  • American Orff-Schulwerk Association 
  • Organization of American Kodaly Educators 
  • Gordon Institute for Music Learning 
  • Barbershop Harmony Society
  • VH1 Save the Music Foundation 

Social Media Presence

Due to our success and tremendous outreach, NAfME orchestrated a massive social media presence, reaching 1.2 million people through 1,305 tweets utilizing the hashtag #NAfMEHD16. The hashtag was utilized for posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; you can revisit our member’s experiences on Hill Day by following each of these accounts. 

Photo: Mark Finkenstaedt |
Photo: Mark Finkenstaedt |

Ronny Lau, Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, July 5, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (