Family and Friends Savings Cards—Contact local businesses in your area – restaurants, salons, car washes, etc. – and have them submit an offer to be put on a discount card. You can fit about 10-12 on a card the size of a business card so it can easily fit in a wallet. Ensemble and/or chorus students can sell the cards for $10 each. This is of no cost to the businesses, other than honoring the offer each time the card is presented for one full year. Not only does this build community support and connections, but it is also a great fundraiser for your music program because all funds go directly back to the students.
Fund Raising Concert—AOSA member Katie Traxler shares this great idea: One of the most exciting events our school put on last year was our Music Jam Concert. Parents, alumni, and student musicians performed side-by-side for our school community to help raise money for our school. The concert exceeded our wildest expectations. We raised over $2000 for our arts programming from ticket sales and even had a write-up in the newspaper. Parents and children were blown away by the turnout and support. Download a PDF file with logistical information about how to create a community music concert. Watch a video of the students jamming with community musicians:
Music PLCs, or music teacher professional learning communities, are a great way to connect with other educators in your community. Music teachers are often very isolated in their schools as they are usually the only one on staff performing such a unique job. By reaching out and connecting with other music educators in your area who are no doubt experiencing many of the same difficulties, you can be proactive in building a powerful support system for your music program. Learn more about Music Teacher PLCs.
A booster group or music coalition may provide support for elementary music in many ways. Here are some things a booster group can do (from Music Advocacy: Moving From Survival to Vision by John L. Benham):
- Effective fund raising – volunteering funds from businesses
- Political structure and power for ensuring a positive environment for maintaining and building music programs for students
- Professional unity for successful music advocacy
- Assistance in passing school levies
- Ongoing stories about the importance of music in a child’s life
- Community support and community communication
- Problem solving in times of crisis or change
Benham suggests that booster groups should be district-wide and have a visible presence at every school board meeting. Membership should consist not only of parents; enlist voters of all ages, as they will be critical to adding weight in local election issues. He lists the following committees as vital to successful advocacy by the parent coalition: Communication; Membership (including recruitment); Administrative Liaison; Research and Finance. More information about organizing an effective music booster group can be found in Benham’s book.
Getting the word out about music education can build a sense of community pride, creating a foundation when seeking increased support or preventing cuts. Positive stories, especially those that publicize how important music is to students and parents, will help serve as an ambassador to parents, business leaders, school board members, legislators, and the community at large. This is also important with journalists, who are more likely to be supportive if they “know” local business owners, supportive organizations, and music programs. The following link, provided by the Music Education Policy Roundtable, offers proven strategies for engaging your community to build support for music education. Public Relations: Connecting with Your Community
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