NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In Q&A with Mary Luehrsen

Elizabeth Dale

In late May, as students are daydreaming about the beginning of summer vacation. NAMM member advocates across the country are working to ensure that children have access to music and arts education. This group of advocates are executing one of the most important gatherings of the year, the annual NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In. This four-day, whirlwind event is packed with advocacy resources to empower NAMM member delegates to advocate for the right of all children to learn and grow with music. We sat down with NAMM Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Mary Luehrsen, who provided us with information about this important event.

When did the first Fly-In take place and what was the motivation for creating this event?

2019 is the 13th year of the Fly-In in its current form, that being a group that represents all sectors of NAMM membership. Our focus for the Fly-In is not only to represent and promote music education with elected officials, but to serve as a platform to support and train NAMM members as music education advocates in their states and local communities. The event consists of comprehensive briefing and advocacy training for state and local efforts in addition to the day spent on Capitol Hill that directly impacts federal policy, legislation, and funding.

What groups are represented at the Fly-In?

Fly-in participants, officially known as delegates, come from all sectors of the industry such as manufacturing, music retail, publishing, and pro audio.

What kind of growth has the Fly-In experienced since its inception?

In the years prior, a smaller, leadership delegation went to Washington annually to advocate for music education.  This year the Fly-In is experiencing a higher rate of involvement which we celebrate.

What is NAMM’s role in the Fly-In?

NAMM organizes the Fly-In from the start, beginning with the recruitment of NAMM member delegates to organizing the briefing and training day, setting the agenda for the “ask” and supporting NAMM members in their personal outreach to their elected officials to request meetings. The ability to organize and represent the heart of our industry, which is the opportunity to make music and create more music makers, allows us to speak with one voice. Coupled with powerful research on all of the positive outcomes of music education, as a delegation we are able to “bring the message home” for lawmakers.

What is the focus of the 2019 NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In?

In general, we will carry news of the value and importance of music education as it is outlined in a Yale Symposium on Music education from 2017. This Yale Symposium on Music education expresses the needs for equity and access for all students to have the opportunity to learn music and know its benefits; developmental, cognitive and emotional. We will also carry research from a project with the Kennedy Center about the role of music education in school climate, student motivation and achievement. Our specific ask will be to fully fund Title 4, Part A in the federal education law that provides funds to school districts for well-rounded education including music and the arts. We will also bring news to hundreds of Congressional offices about district and school winners in the 2019 Best Communities for Music Education program. This creates a tangible connection between a member of Congress and their constituent communities that music education is important to citizens they serve.

Could you provide any preview of the 2019 Day of Service?

Our day of service has a standard formula that follows our toolkit which is available online at We provide a hands-on, student group music learning experiences with master teachers on guitar, ukulele and drums. NAMM members are utilized as teaching assistants providing support in areas such as hand position and playing along as well as logistics of the day including unpacking, tuning and packing instruments. A group will also help the D.C. middle school with instrument inventory and repair review - their very own instrument SWAT team!

How can people get involved if they are unable to attend the 2019 Fly-In?

Follow delegates who will be active on social media while they are in D.C. and get active locally in music education advocacy. In addition people can share resources at and through the Coalition on Coalition for state efforts at Finally, if you are in a district that has received a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) award, help them celebrate. A full list of the 2019 awardees can be found at