I know that Music Education Advocacy is a challenging battle. Sometimes when a boxer takes enough beatings, it’s tough to get up off of the stool to go another round. But we all know how important that fight is. So here’s a thought to simplify that effort. You really only need to answer 3 questions to be effective in music and arts education advocacy efforts:
1. What do you care about?
I know that the music teachers, advocates, and musicians who follow this blog and connect through social media care about music education. Their love for music and their commitment to their craft are impressive and sincere. No problem there.
2. Would anybody know it if they met you?
Here’s where many advocates fall short. I’ve spent most of my professional career in sales and sales management. One of the simplest definitions I’ve ever heard of sales came from Brian Tracy – Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm from the buyer to the seller.
When I lectured to music teachers during the promotional tour for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, I perceived a sense of resignation – a belief that the 2nd tier status that music education has generally been assigned relative to other subjects is a given – that the battle has been lost. Not so fast.
It would be a shame if we lost the enthusiasm for our argument just when the odds are turning in our favor. As we’ve discussed previously, the instances of reports and research from credible new sources regarding the connection between music education and career success continue to grow at an encouraging rate. That certainly was not the case 5 years ago when the book was published. Link to Web Articles
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: Graduating Music Educators enter their careers armed with the reality that the sensitivities and skillsets of the artist are increasingly in demand in the workplace, even in traditionally “left-brain” industries and careers (well articulated by such author/speakers as Daniel Pink, John Kao, and Sir Ken Robinson).
But it won’t happen without passion – passion that is perceivable from the outside. There’s always another priority, and generally one that’s worthwhile, that will compete for music and arts education funding if you don’t speak up and let your voice be heard.
Don’t let past disappointment get you down. It’s a new day in education and in the workplace.
3. What are you willing to do about it?
There’s a wonderful collection of Music Education advocates sharing information and resources online and on social media. Too often, however, we’re preaching to the choir. Again using an analogy from my sales, you can only get so much mileage from existing customers. Yes it’s easier to talk to them and you rarely experience rejection, but eventually, you need to pick up the phone and make a few cold calls.
We need to take the fight to those who aren’t inclined to see things our way. In Nov. 2013, I helped assemble and moderate a panel of business leaders in the New Orleans community who are also advocates of music education based on the role it played in their lives and careers. Former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten was asked by a music teacher what she should do at her school to garner support, he instructed her to “assemble a panel like this” for your parents, faculty, and your community.
Keep tabs on your former music students in the community. Engage them, and have them engage others – people who can make a difference – especially those who need to be enlightened.
And don’t ever give up!