NAMM Delegates Advocate for Music Education on the Hill

Nearly 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. As part of the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In, held May 22-24, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education. The issue of music education takes on a special importance this year as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in 2015 by President Obama readies for state-level implementation in 2018, and is facing proposed budget cuts. The law specifies music as a core subject in a well-rounded education for all K-12 students.

The Advocacy week began on Monday, May 22 with a Day of Service at Jefferson Middle School Academy. Members from the group provided three hours of music education instruction on drum, ukulele and guitar for the middle school students. NAMM delegates also provided maintenance and repair to many of the school’s existing instruments. That evening, the group joined The NAMM Foundation in awarding the SupportMusic Champion Award to Senator Robert Casey (PA). The award was presented in recognition of the Senator’s long history in music education advocacy and for his role as a champion of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

On Tuesday, the delegates prepared for their efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training at the Newseum during which the music industry leaders were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs. The group was briefed on ESSA and the current political climate from a variety of policy and arts leaders including representatives from the United States Department of Education, Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), and the National School Board Association (NSBA), among others. The group also enjoyed a special lunchtime session on current policy trends presented by PBS News Hour contributor, New York Times columnist and Turnaround Arts artist, David Brooks. Delegation groups were also trained on developing state-level advocacy efforts for music and arts education to put into practice in their home states.

On Wednesday, nearly 200 meetings with Members of Congress were held by the delegation. The group of advocates discussed the multitude of benefits music education espouses such as increased brain function, focus and language development, as found in a new research study from Northwestern University. The Country Music Association, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and former New York Yankees centerfielder and three-time World Series winner, music education champion and Turnaround Arts artist Bernie Williams joined the day of advocacy, sharing his own experience in music education and a desire to create a more musical world.

In addition to the advocacy work, the group was part of a special Congressional reception, held on Wednesday, May 24 in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol that brought together arts advocates and policy makers. The evening was capped by a special CMA Songwriters Series event held at The Kennedy Center. The event featured notable acts including LoCash Cowboys and Drake White, as well as songwriters Jim Beavers and Heather Morgan. The performance underscored a united commitment from both artists and delegates to continue to champion music education opportunities for all children.

To view images from the NAMM Fly-In for Music Education, please visit: https://www.namm.org/news/photos/2017-music-education-advocacy-fly-in