January is a time for clean slates and fresh beginnings. Marching season is over, the holidays are past, and bowl games are behind us. This year, my first resolution is to get the Christmas tree put away before St. Patrick’s Day. (Actually not kidding. Sigh.) After that, though, what comes next?

“Resolution” is really just a fancy way of announcing that you’re planning to commit to an intention to better yourself or the world around you. In other words, to “set a goal.” So what better way to remember these resolutions than a slick acronym?


S is for Support. As a parent, this is the job description. You support your children, your spouse, your extended family.Like me, I’m sure you do this every day without thinking about it! But IMAGINE what we could accomplish by putting a bit of thought and energy into it! Being intentional about our efforts infuses them with power. Stop a moment to look your child in the eye next time you pick them up from rehearsal. Stop to ask yourself if there’s a way above and beyond what you did last week you can support your child’s music educator, even if it’s just having your child deliver a fresh cup of coffee to rehearsal.

E is for Encourage. Let people around you know what they’re doing right. It’s all too easy to let the good behavior go unnoticed while pouncing on the bad. As a parent, you know that it reinforces the lessons you teach your child, but don’t underestimate the power of a smile or a drive-by compliment on the very next human you encounter. Or drop a thank-you note to your child’s teacher, and copy the principal on it! Encouragement is also important while your child is growing and pushing her limits. A well timed mention of her hard work and perseverance can go a long way.

T is for Time. Randy Pausch said, “Time is all we have. You may find one day that you have less than you think.” So make sure you spend it mindfully. For me, that means more creating memories with my kids and less time staring at a screen. Only you can say what that might mean for you.

A is for Appreciate. I’ll let Ferris handle this one.

G is for Grow. Gretchen Rubin turned me on to this quote by William Butler Yeats:

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

Think about ways in which you can grow, or help others around you grow. Maybe it’s adding a new skill (like me creating a vlog post!), or maybe it’s helping create a better community. Perhaps you could help your music booster group grow by inviting a friend to the next meeting, or by starting a Facebook page for the organization. Maybe it’s a larger community effort, like volunteering with your local arts organization.

O is for Organize. This is often a big New Year’s Resolution for most of us. Maybe it’s starting a music booster group at your child’s school from scratch. Maybe you’re ready to digitize your group’s records and upload them to a cloud-based service like Dropbox, or my personal favorite, Evernote. Or just maybe it’s time to get all that amazing information out of your head and recorded for posterity, creating a new binder for your team to keep your fundraising information together.

broccoliA is for Advocate. To most of us music parents, advocacy is like eating broccoli: meh. You know you should, but you’d really rather not. (Gee, do I hear the dryer buzzing?) I never thought we would have to fight to keep arts education in America’s schools, but sadly, we do. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to communicate the importance of music education. It’s as simple as firing off a letter or an email to thank your school board for supporting arts education (don’t forget to cc the editor of your local newspaper!), or inviting them to your child’s next concert. Don’t have that much time? Here are eight simple ways you can do something small that will make a big difference! Be a “slacktivist” and share some of the music quotes and statistics I share on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Chances are, there’s someone in your online community who doesn’t realize just how powerful music education really is.

L is for Laugh. We all know that laughter is fun, but it turns out it’s actually good for you, both physically and mentally!  As a parent, there are lots of things that will set off giggles: memories of blown-out diaper or a road trip gone awry, catchphrases that only you and your family understand, that photo of your spouse in 1986 with those GLASSES! Think back to the first week your child picked up a clarinet. I’ll bet the squeaking wasn’t very funny then, but remembering it sure is now! And somehow, comedy is even funnier when set to music. Here’s my kids’ current favorite example of that (it’s safe for work, but there’s a tasteless moment at 1:55).

All of us at AMP wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2013. Do you have any plans to “SET A GOAL” this year, or has one of our ideas inspired you? Let us know in the comments below!