How can parents help to support, improve, and advocate for a strong music program? What makes for a quality school music program? And how can you help your local school music teacher build a great school music program?
A quality music education program is comprehensive. A sequential music curriculum that is guided by academic content standards as set forth by the state education department and local school board. It provides adequate instructional time and resources, and is taught by a qualified music teacher.
Get the lay of the land. As a parent, there are some basic things that you should know before engaging with your educator. So start by doing some resources. Are students receiving instruction based on state music academic content standards that define what a child should know and be able to do at each grade level? How many hours or days in a week do children in my school receive music instruction? Ask the music teacher or principal about the adequacy of the time for instruction as it compares to what must be taught. Is there sufficient time and opportunity for your child to learn?
Let your school music teacher know that you appreciate what they do to bring music to all of the students in your school. Let them know what music means to your child, how music allows them to express their feelings, think creatively, and demonstrate their talent. Let them know that you stand ready to help in any way that you can.
Talk to the music teacher about existing resources for the music program. Chances are the school budget alone does not provide all of the funding necessary to adequately support the school music program. Do the music teachers have the resources they need to teach music such as current music textbooks, classroom musical instruments, and CDs of music from cultures around the world? Learn how your local school system works and how resources are distributed equitably to the music program. Become a participant in fundraising efforts to enhance school music opportunities.
A quality music program should include experiences with musicians and community music organizations. Do students participate in educational field experiences like a yearly field trip to orchestra hall for the children’s symphony concert? Live music experiences complement school music instruction and are an important component of learning about and experiencing music. Many arts organizations bring music to life in schools by presenting live performances, sponsoring musician classroom visits, offering professional development opportunities for teachers, and providing resources for students such as youth orchestras and children’s choruses.
Make connections and talk with your school music teacher about why a strong music education program is important to your child, all students, the school, and to the community. Show your appreciation, keep an open line of communication, and discover ways you can support the music program and become an advocate for music education. To learn more about advocacy for music education consider the following resources: MENC, NAMM Foundation, American Choral Directors Association, and VH1 Save the Music Foundation.