It is the state and local elected officials who hold the key to education and the focus of the arts in education. During this election time write to the candidates:
- Ask about their position on the arts in education? Ask them about their experiences in their own school education history. Were they involved in music? Do they remember any of these experiences, especially at the elementary level? Are they still involved in music? Are their children?
- Send them a link to information on the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music. Explain the Schulwerk and how it aligns to higher-level thinking.
- Share this link about a Musical Fix for America’s Schools.
- Remind them that music is listed as a core subject under Every Student Achieves Act.
- Point out how top executives state that music education provides the desired critical thinking skills so pertinent in today’s business world.
Find out who is running in your state. Let your voice be heard on behalf of your students!
Influencing the Decision Makers: School Board Meetings—School boards make final decisions and approve all financial requests. If your district is not in the habit of attending performances, send your board members invitations to your concerts or informances. Better yet, ask if you can have your Orff ensemble or a few students perform before a board meeting. Not only will board members be there, but community members as well. Make sure you include the brochure about Orff Schulwerk that is found on our About AOSA page or include a video of your class in action or utilize the videos on our Advocacy Tools page.
If your board members make regular visits to the schools, ask some of your students to send hand-written invitations to individual members to sit in on a class and play or move along. Don’t forget your principals as well. If you have principals who do not have a music background, they will very likely be impressed at the higher level involved in doing movement activities, improvising, or learning a piece from the Music for Children volumes.
If your decision makers are impressed (as will most likely be the case), but are concerned about finances, let them know about the AOSA grants that support instrument purchase.
Every Student Achieves Act-What Does It Mean for Music and for Support of the Schulwerk? On December 10, Congress celebrated the passage of Every Student Achieves Act (ESAA) as President Obama signed it into law. One of the most potentially exciting benefits for us as music educators is the mention of music FIVE times in the act as it stands now. Music is considered a stand-alone core subject and is included in the list of activities that could be supported through Race to the Top grant opportunities for the states. Additionally, music is mentioned as a supporting factor in the four Cs of the 21st Century Skills –communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity).
What does that mean for advocacy in the Schulwerk, especially with our decision-makers? It gives us another advocacy tool. When a school administrator walks into a well-run Orff-centered classroom, she encounters creativity THROUGH communication, THROUGH critical thinking, and THROUGH collaborating to result in beauty. Post the 4 Cs in your room or on your hall bulletin board for visiting administrators to see. List these in your printed programs. Include them in your tweets, your Facebook pages, your classroom website. If your state has a Fine Arts Education Day, schedule your Orff ensemble to attend. Show your state government music in a new way. Take every opportunity to point out the sections in the ESAA that pertain to music.
What does ESAA hold for us in the near future? It’s actually too soon to tell. Acts like this go through continuous revisions as provisions are applied, accepted, or rejected. But as of right now, the verbiage in the current act is reason enough to celebrate. The government appears to be realizing what we’ve known all the time: 21st century skills and leadership building for the future begins with child-focused rooms that allow for creativity. And that’s Orff Schulwerk teachers in a nutshell.
(You can read the Every Student Achieves Act here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114s1177enr/pdf/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf).
Justify why critical thinking is the only way to protect American jobs. Top executives give their reasons why STEM alone will not make our US economy grow. STEAM is the only answer.
Use AOSA materials to help support professional development funding or support the benefits of the Schulwerk when there are funding concerns in your district. Check out the AOSA advocacy brochures, especially the brochure that is directed towards administrators, connecting the benefits of the Schulwerk with 21st Century Learning skills. You can find out more about ordering hard copies of brochures from the About AOSA page.
Use this article from PBS to talk with decision makers about the cognitive and emotional impact of music classes for children.
- Music involves multiple skill sets—i.e. listening and recall, motor development, creativity and problem solving, spatial awareness, and collaborative skills…all at the same time.
- Language development—i.e. speech patterns, syllabification, soundscapes to accompany literature, and movement to enhance children’s literature.
- Increased IQ—In a study, 6 year olds who were exposed to music lessons showed that the group who had music classes for over a year tested three IQ points higher than did the students in the control groups.
- Neuroscience—New studies show that students involved with music have a larger growth in neural activity than others.
- Spatial-temporal skills—Research has shown a causal link between music training and spatial intelligence that, in turn, increases problem-solving skills.
- Improved test scores—Students in elementary schools with superior music programs scored higher on standardized tests than did schools with less quality music programs.
In October, Congressional members will be out of session and in their home districts. What does that mean? Now is a great time for you to contact your federal policymakers as they return to their home states and districts. The links below will help you take advantage of this period—or any times when your legislators are around—to cultivate relationships and become a trusted resource for them and their staffs.
All Politics Is Local: Connecting with Lawmakers at Home
A list of key U.S. Senate and House of Representatives education committee members
When seeking support for professional development for music and movement, our administrators can be our strong allies and advocates if they understand the benefits of the Schulwerk. This sample letter about the benefits of Orff Schulwerk can be shared with decision makers to build support for both the music program and the music teacher.
Stories from your students may be more effective than research when it comes to convincing principals, school superintendents, school board members, and others in decision making positions about how critical a music program is to the success of the whole child and the total learning program in your school. To learn more about this, and get some ideas for how you can collect stories from your students, read “Your Best Advocates” (reprinted from Reverberations).
Visit Current Research in Music Education for an annotated list of articles and links to research that you can share with administrators and other decision makers.
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