How to Help Keep Music Programs in Schools
Did you know that the annual cost for a comprehensive K-12 music education program is only about $187 per student? If it’s so cost-effective, why are music programs the first to be cut when funds are low? A study, funded by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), shows that it’s fairly economical to keep music in schools as long as the funding is balanced. Although reports show that music is almost universally available in all public schools, it’s often a fight to keep the programs alive. If you’d like to keep music in your child’s curriculum but don’t have the time or resources to voice your concern in meetings, here are some things you can do to help keep music education programs in schools.
Start a Fundraiser
Fundraisers can greatly benefit the music program at your local public school. Before you begin a fundraiser, be sure to sit down with the director of the school’s music program- find out what instruments or accessories they may need, the amount of money required, and the best route of action. Chances are, they’re familiar with fundraisers and may already have ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Think creatively- the more creative or personalized a fundraising event is, the more likely people are to attend. Some fun ideas include casino nights, yard sales, potlucks, or ice cream sundae parties.
If your child has a performance or recital, the best thing you can do is show up. Your physical presence at school concerts alone will help build a community culture around music education- invite friends and family members. The more audience members there are, the more likely your child is to stick with the instrument. Performance is one of the biggest reasons your child learns and practices their instrument, and two recitals a year often isn’t enough. Talk to your child’s teacher and stress the importance of a small recital or performance at least every six weeks or so.
Ask for Sponsorships
Chances are high that there are a handful of music-themed businesses in your hometown that value the importance of music education in schools. Vinyl record shops and instrument stores may be interested in donating equipment, instruments, or even money as long as you explain what you’re trying to do. Be sure that this support and monetary contributions aren’t seen as a replacement for federal funding, rather as a supplement to the money the school would receive from federal grants and funding initiatives. Thank them for their contribution and, to show your gratitude, ask the music director to include a sponsorship page in the program of your child’s next recital.
Support Larger Music Programs
There are many well-known music programs whose goal is to help keep a music curriculum in public schools. VH1 Save the Music is one of the most popular and it’s easy to contribute- simply visit the site, make a donation, or learn how to take action. Additionally, you can make a donation to the Hot Topic Foundation or round up to the next dollar with each in-store or online purchase. Since its inception, the Hot Topic Foundation has given nearly $9 million in grants to non-profit organizations that create music and arts programs for young people across the country.
Start a Petition
In some situations, starting a petition may be of help – especially in instances where the music program is in trouble. It’s easy and can be done online in a matter of minutes. If you prefer to have the petition signed in the old-school way, attend your child’s recitals and ask audience members to sign the petition. As long as the petition has enough signatures, it’s a worthwhile endeavor that could change the minds’ of school board members. While you’re at it, find petitions from other schools available online and sign theirs as a sign of support.
Encourage Student Participation
One of the main reasons music programs are targeted during budget cuts is due to lack of student participation or interest. If 50 children are in the music program, and 125 students participate in after-school sports, can you really blame the school board for their choice? Do what you can to make music seem interesting or fun for your child and others. Arrange for your music program to visit the music department of a local college or university or ask the local preschool if they’d be interested in an exclusive performance. Finally, spend time with your child talking about their instrument and program- if they think it interests you, they’ll be more likely to find interest in it, as well.
Write Letters to Legislators
Writing letters to legislators that stress the importance of keeping music programs in schools is definitely a step in the right direction. Encourage the parents’ of other children in the program to do so as well- the more people they see are interested in the program, the better. In some cases, you won’t even have to handwrite a letter. Spend some time online researching your local legislators and representatives- in many cases, their email or phone number can easily be found online.
Article first published on The Vault at Music & Arts.