NAMM Members Take On Full Agenda In Washington D.C. to Advocate for Music Education
NAMM today announced the full music education advocacy efforts of more than 30 NAMM Members who took time away from their businesses May 10-13 to travel to Washington D.C. and engage in activities and one-on-one discussions with representatives of the U.S. Congress to support music education programs in schools nationwide.
The week's activities kicked off on Monday with a reception honoring former MENC Executive Director John Mahlmann in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol Building. In addition to the NAMM Members in attendance, many of Mahlmann's close friends and associates including "Sesame Street's" Bob McGrath, famous "Funky Winkerbean" cartoon creator Tom Batiuk and representatives from GAMA, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, Music for All and MENC.
“The entire music products industry owes a great debt of gratitude to John for his patience, wisdom and leadership always with a cool head and kind way," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM.
On Tuesday, the group underwent an entire day of training and briefings about the issues facing music education funding currently. NAMM streamed portions of this meeting on namm.org and encouraged questions via e-mail and Twitter.
Mid-day on Tuesday, the delegation took a trip from their briefing room to attend a press event featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaking outside of the Department of Education offices at the John Lennon Education Tour Bus.
The non-profit John Lennon Educational Tour Bus and SupportMusic.com hosted Duncan, former Secretary of Education Richard Riley and local Washington DC-area students on board the state-of-the-art recording facility where The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, John Legend and more have recorded tracks. With the goal of keeping music and the arts as core curriculum in every child’s education, Sec. Duncan spoke about music and art education’s many benefits and why these subjects are essential.
"I'd like to thank all the students, teachers and NAMM for your passion in this area," said Duncan. "We're trying to put a lot of money around giving kids a well-rounded education—not just high school, but our 5, 6 and 7 year-olds too. I wish it wasn't a fight, but let's face it—it is a fight. This is about giving these kids a chance to develop their skills, their abilities and their self-esteem. Together, we have to win this and win it for every single child in this country."
Wednesday the delegates held more than 80 meetings in various offices around the Capitol, culminating in a special reception at the end of the day in the Capitol Building put on by NAMM, VH1 Save the Music Foundation and dosomething.org featuring GRAMMY-nominated singer Taylor Dayne and Journey keyboardist/songwriter Jonathan Cain.
The crowded roomful of NAMM delegates and Washington insiders listened to passionate remarks from both celebrities about why music education matters to them.
"Miss Kyzowski, Mr. Dagan, Miss Edwards. 30 years later I can still remember their names because these people were three of the most influential people in my life,” Dayne said. “They were my music teachers and they helped me find my own voice. My music teachers believed in me more than I believed in myself and music class was my safe place."
"In 1958, I went to a school that burned to the ground and 100 kids died. My way out of it was music,” Cain said. “My father bought me an accordion after the fire and it became my best friend. Music was my escape and my salvation. And that's what we have to remember when decisions are made to cut music classes out of schools."
On Thursday, the delegates held their last few Congressional meetings and re-grouped at the law offices of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough for a final feedback session.
Two attendees shared what they learned from their first Washington experience with NAMM.
"Two things about my Fly-In experience really impressed me. First, I got everything out of this experience that I expected and that almost never happens. The second was that once I was able to get over that initial intimidation factor of meeting with Congress here in Washington, I found it very comfortable,” said Grant Billings of Steinway Piano Gallery in Madison, Wis. “I'm confident that I can now meet with my elected representatives more regularly and stay engaged in the issues that I care about the most, including strong music education programs in our schools. "
"First of all, to be on Capitol Hill with the legislators and staff was really awe-inspiring,” said Rick Young of Yamaha in Buena Park, Calif. “And to walk through the halls of government is humbling to any American. The mission we have undertaken, as far as making sure music education has a solid mindshare with these legislators, is a good one for our industry and for our society and I think we accomplished it. We were able to have really good discussions this week and get our message across clearly to the lawmakers who ultimately will decide if as a country we are going to make music and arts programs a top priority. Lastly, I feel that NAMM is doing something that is so critically important to the health of our entire industry and that's exactly what NAMM should be doing.”
“NAMM extends its gratitude to the Members who participated in the 2010 music education advocacy effort in Washington D.C.,” said Lamond. “The experience in its entirety can be quite demanding but at the same time, the impact of this hard work is quite significant and meaningful for the future. We also thank all of the NAMM Members, NAMM staff and concerned citizens who participated in our interactive Web cast on Tuesday. This additional support is the pillar of strength the industry needs to push this advocacy message forward.”
NAMM is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the international musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of approximately 9,000 Member companies. For more information about NAMM or the proven benefits of making music, interested parties can visit www.namm.org or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).