By Marc C. Whitt
One of the best national observances for advocating music education will soon be arriving as The National Music in Our Schools Month is set for the entire month of March.
Sponsored by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and supported by leading music advocacy organizations such as The National Association of Music Parents (AMP), The National Music in Our Schools Month is a marvelous opportunity for every music parents organization in the United States to become involved. Is your boosters organization on board and ready to month?
If so, fantastic! If not, don't worry. It's not too late for your music parents to organize themselves by implementing one or more of the following public relations options in support of this month-long observance.
- Sponsor a “Thank a Music Educator” breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bring together all your band, choir and orchestra parents as you host a meal event recognizing the music educators in your school or school system. Invite your principal and parent leaders to bring words of appreciation as part of a program. Don’t make this into a fundraiser. This needs to be a special event that simply lets the music teachers know how much they are collectively valued and appreciated. And make sure to invite the local media, too!
- Conduct a letters-to-the-editor campaign. Before submitting your letters, make sure everyone has done their homework. This needs to be an opportunity to thank schools for their support and to encourage them to further provide music education opportunities for all students. This should not be a bashing session. If, though, a system needs to be encouraged to reinstate funding for its music program, do so by providing facts about the benefits of music education. AMP members may find plenty of information at www.amparents.org or on the NAfME website at http://www.nafme.org/programs/miosm/.
- Invite your booster president, principal and superintendent to prepare an op-ed for your community’s newspaper. Again, as you prepare make sure to support your position with facts and figures. Such will add the credibility you seek to achieve.
- Use the power of social media. NAfME has some wonderful ideas and tools that can be used in support of The National Music in Our Schools Month, particularly in the area of social media awareness. Check out art and hashtags that may be used on your social media profile and messaging at http://www.nafme.org/change-your-profile-picture-for-music-in-our-schools-month/. Sample texts are also provided for your immediate use. Needless to say, social media is one of the most effective ways of sharing why music education is critical to our children’s complete educational experience.
- Make it a banner month. Schools love a good celebration. Have your music parents organization first contact the school or school system to see if a banner may be hung somewhere in the school with a message like: “Thank You, ___ High School, for Supporting Music in Our School! #MIOSM2016” Make sure to include your school’s logo, too.
- Schedule concerts during March. This is most certainly your band, choir or orchestra director’s call. However, should there already be a concert scheduled for the month of March find creative ways to inject promotions and comments about The National Music in Our Schools Month in your printed concert program. In addition, encourage the director and principal to share comments at an appropriate place during the concert.
- Invite music alumni home. Tap into your school music program’s outstanding alumni by inviting them back on campus – perhaps to lead a panel discussion for current music students about how music impacted their life as college students or professionals.
- Get organized! Before any of these and other ideas can be successfully achieved, make sure you have organized yourselves with a good leadership team and a planning calendar. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s far better to do 1-3 events very well rather than tackle 10 or more and do them poorly.
Please send us photos and stories of your music parent organization’s success! We’ll make sure to pass them along to our good friends at NAfME! Here’s to celebrating music in our schools!