The Time is Now
It would be redundant to say we are going through something none of us has ever experienced. The mass closing of schools in over 40 states has put music education at risk in so many ways.
Since March, we have lost, in many communities, spring concerts, marching events for spring holidays and recruiting for the next school year.
We know that we will get our band programs back, but we will not know exactly how they will function with regard to protecting the health of students and the faculty. Will there be a marching (football) season? Will you teach all your band students at once? How do you socially distance a one-hundred-piece band? How do you have low brass students share instruments (tubas used for underclass band and then for your upper band)?
These are the obvious questions you as a band director in association with your department chair or other decision maker work toward a reopening in September.
But there are other bigger questions you may have to consider. With state budgets being pushed to the limits, it is likely that many states may have to consider budget cuts which means your program may be in jeopardy.
This has happened many times over. There were issues during the 2008 great recession and actually every economic downturn our country has faced. The question is always where can we cut the education budget. We know we have been an easy target and while we have not lost a significant percentage of programs, we do face this discussion at every budget crunch.
Now is the time to think about how your band program may look in September and beyond and become involved. See if you can push your way into the discussion of how your school will open and what that will look like. Let your voice be the one that creates how the band/orchestra/chorus should operate in the “New Normal.”
This is important for two reasons. The first is obvious in that you should have some control on the protocol being designed for school start. The second is now that you’re working with decision makers, your voice is more likely to be heard on other issues like budgeting. It could make the difference in being surprised by how school opens and how much more-or less you have to spend and what your staffing looks like. Now is the time to lay the foundation for the return to school. Make the most of it.
Links for Reference
NAMM Foundation: Support Music
The Coalition on Coalitions (CoCs) is a working group within the NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic Coalition that supports NAMM members and their networks working on state-level music and arts education advocacy efforts. As a network of advocates, the CoCs provides tactics, resources and best practices to move and improve state-level policies, funding and advocacy for music and arts education. More information here.
Article to Read:
The NAMM Foundation Joins Over 50 Organizations to Support Arts Education as Essential for Students During COVID-19 Pandemic and Into the Future
Music for All: Advocacy Tools
Music for All is committed to providing access to valuable information and resources to support music and the arts in education and communities. The following tools and resources can equip you with templates, facts and figures, posters and stories to successfully make your case for music education in your school and community. More information here.
Michael Skinner, is the President of DANSR, inc, importer for Vandoren and Denis Wick products and worldwide distributor of Super-Sensitive strings and Smith Mallets. He has served boards for NAMM, Make Music, and the Michigan Coalition for Music Education. He has taught instrumental music from beginning level through high school.