Tag Archives: Music Education Advocacy

Dave Wish of Little Kids Rock Discusses the Benefits of Music Education

In 2008, I conducted a series of interviews with music educators, professionals, musicians, and advocates articulating the universal benefits of music education and participation. One of the most memorable of those discussions was with Dave Wish, founder and Executive Director of the non-profit, “Little Kids Rock.” LKR provides musical instruments and instruction to at-risk kids and teachers.

Great points made by Dave that should be staples of any music enthusiast’s/advocate’s discussions!

Music and Arts Education Advocacy Quote of the Day (April 18, 2011)

Virtually every creativity expert concurs – all children are creative, yet we often lose our capacity for creativity as we get older and diminish our creative activities. That brings us to today’s music and arts education advocacy quote of the day:

“Creativity is like a muscle. It gets stronger with use, and withers with inactivity. If we cut music and arts education funding, where will our children exercise?” 

– Craig M. Cortello

Kevin Spacey, Winston Churchill on Arts Advocacy

Kevin Spacey recently gave a speech on Arts Advocacy at the Kennedy Center. A brief interview the following day with Chris Matthews of the show Hardball is making the rounds among arts advocates on Twitter. Spacey researched historical testimonials from well-known public figures, and he shared this gem during the speech – Matthews was so struck by it that he asked Spacey to repeat it to his audience:

“When Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and he was told that there were going to be major cuts in arts and culture because of the mounting costs of World War II, he responded with a simple reply, ‘Then what are we fighting for?'”

Link to Kevin Spacey interview with Chris Matthews.

Canada’s Music Education Gallery of Champions

I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more testimonials from leaders from a variety of professions who were influenced by music education. Why don’t they speak out more often and more publicly regarding the benefits of music education. I certainly didn’t have any trouble finding plenty of successful business leaders willing to tell me their stories when I wrote my book. One possible answer is that they don’t have a proper, organized forum.

This Canadian website, The Coalition for Music Education, has a Gallery of Champions of musicians and professionals influenced by music education. Not a bad idea.

Link to the Gallery of Champions website
(scroll down to play the audio testimonials)

Music Education Advocacy Quote for Today (March 6th 2011)

It’s music in our schools month…

“Every step we take and every sound we make has a rhythm. Music therefore, is inherently human – and lack of commitment to music education is inhumane.”   

– Craig M. Cortello

Test Scores and Non-Testable Subjects?

I came across this article on the web today from blogger Dana Goldstein regarding the use (or non-use) of test scores to assess the effectiveness of music, art, and phys. ed. teachers. This is a topic that I became intrigued by when conducting the research for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music.

According to a series of reports by the Center on Education Policy that tracks the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (which became law in 2002) entitled From the Capital to the Classroom, 62 percent of elementary school districts reported increasing time for English and/or math since the 2001-02 school year by an average increase of 42 percent. At the same time, 44 percent of elementary school districts reported cutting time from one or more other subjects including science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch, and recess by an average of about 30 minutes per day.

“What gets tested gets taught,” said Jack Jennings, CEP’s president and CEO. “Because so much is riding on reading and math, included on state tests, many schools have cut back time on other important areas, which means that some students are not receiving a broad curriculum.”

The report also notes that these changes are more prevalent in districts that are home to struggling schools. One recommendation from the report is to “include measures of knowledge and skills in art and music as one of the multiple measures used for NCLB accountability.”

That brings up a touchy subject that gets debated in the academic world – How do you implement tests for the arts that truly capture artistic aptitude and competence? By definition the arts are about creativity, and standardization can discourage creativity. How would Charlie Parker or Pablo Picasso have performed on a standardized arts test? My fear is that standardized testing for the arts would drive the move toward memorization of facts rather than creative application, which is essentially what the arts are all about and the greatest benefit of arts in our schools (see item #5 of the 9 Common Lessons of Music Education that Translate into Success).

I asked a group of experienced music educators that question once (“What are your thoughts on standardized testing for the arts, given the fact that funding seems to follow test results but the arts are difficult to assess via traditional test methods?), and didn’t really get much of an answer. It’s a topic that needs more dialogue.

The Answer?
I believe a line at the bottom of the Ms. Goldstein’s post gives us a hint at the answer – Comprehensive Assessments that take into account “multiple measures” not just test scores. As a matter of fact, multiple measures are the answer even in traditional education subjects. As one educator once told me, “Standardized tests are a measure, yet only one element, and likely not the most important one in assessing the effectiveness of educational institutions.”

More about Dana Goldstein.
My letter to the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind

Music & Arts Ed Budget Cuts: Creating An Opportunity for Success?

So music and arts education budgets are being cut everywhere. What does that mean for you and your school. Opportunity! Let’s take a lesson from the world of business.

The most basic principle of launching a new product or service and the greatest success stories come when an entrepreneur recognizes a void in the marketplace and serves that need and those customers.

Learning a Lesson From ESPN
Does anybody recall the early days of ESPN, the Sports cable giant. There wasn’t much to shout about in terms of major sports programming – Australian Rules Football and a plethora of rarely televised events. The staple of the network that fueled its growth from the early days was its own sports news program – Sportscenter.

Why was Sportcenter so successful that it was able to build the foundation for a multi-billion dollar sports icon. Well think about what has been happening to the sports segment of your local news programming.

In most markets, the sports highlights and recap segment of the news has dwindled, as have the resources allocated to employ journalists, producers, etc. According to a 2006 study by the Penn State Center for Sports Journalism in a survey of the top 50 markets, the average local sports segment is 3 minutes.

The logic is that weather and news affect everyone, but sports only appeals to sports fans. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t legions of sports fans longing for a more extensive sports news program with highlights and analysis presented by enthusiastic and entertaining broadcasters, and that’s what ESPN’s Sportscenter provided.

Music & Arts Education: The Differentiator
What does that have to do with Arts and Music Education. Well if everyone else is cutting their budgets, your successful program is a great differentiator.

  • If you’re at a private school, any differentiator is a selling feature that can help attract students. At your open houses, your potential students and their families might not consider arts education a priority. Articulate that you’re still committed to excellence in the arts – but more importantly – tell them why it’s important! 
  • Create marketing materials with similar themes. 
  • If you’re not competing for enrollment, your administrator still wants recognition for your school. Summarize your accomplishments and create relationships with local media.
  • Track down your former students and ask them to articulate what being a part of your arts or music education has meant to them personally and professionally as they’ve moved throughout their careers. Nothing is more effective in sales than the testimonial of a happy customer.
  • Ask those same former students to come back and perform or speak to your students and parents. Seeing these successful professionals with provide a clear demonstration that your program impacts lives.  

It’s a cliche, but in every challenge there is opportunity. And if you’re a great arts or music educator (and I know you are!), let ’em know it!

Frank Battisti Video: “We’ve Got to Sell it (Music Education) Like Madison Avenue

We featured a lecture by Frank Battisti here before, but I urge you to watch the video below. In this brief panel discussion, he reiterates many of the points (benefits of music education and the role of the music education program) we’ve made here before, yet he does it more articulately, succinctly, and thoroughly than any speaker that I can recall.

Key points:
“We have got to grow music lovers. Kids who love music. Not band, not activity – music. And it starts with the teacher loving music.”

“Music is essential to the development of every child, not just the ones in my band. I’m not happy until every child has quality music education, because for the full development of that child, that’s essential.”

“We’ve got to sell it (music education) like Madison Avenue”

“Our job is to get kids to Grow, understand, appreciate, and love music”

“The issue in art is not being better than anybody else – it’s about finding who you are and being creative. There are no trophies for that, but there’s great enrichment and great fulfillment from it.”

Benefits of Music Education: Getting “Buy-in”

I once interviewed the Development Director for a symphony organization, and he said that when he speaks to representatives from major donor organizations, most were involved in music programs as a child – and that’s the danger of cutting school music programs – the number of individuals who “buy in” to the power and benefits of music education is likely to diminish.

I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Richard Fratianne and a burn patient regarding the benefits of music therapy as a healing aid. Interesting that Dr. Fratianne indicated that music was an integral part of his upbringing.

Visit my Music Advocacy web page for great resources
Here are a few additional stories regarding music and healing