When thinking about being an advocate for music education, I immediately go to wanting to spread the word about the facts, data, and statistics of how music impacts a student’s life: how it improves test scores, grade point averages, college entrance, future job prospects, and the like. But truthfully, I think those things are the low-hanging fruit. Are they important? Absolutely. And though some advocacy efforts must be dramatic and immediate as we react to situations that arise, to me, the best of our advocacy is more like taking vitamins. It is proactive rather than reactive, long-term, continuous, and ongoing. I am a big fan of vitamins. I have taken them religiously for many, many decades. Can I specifically point to any instance where they have helped me overcome an ailment, cured some disease, or benefited me in any specific way? No. But I hope that they will prevent problems from happening and keep me healthy in the long term. I think advocacy functions much the same way. Each thing we do – no matter how small – to broadcast and explain the immense importance of music in a child’s life, goes a long way to making sure every facet of our school community understands its value. Is any single action a magic bullet or recipe for effective advocacy? Of course not. But I really think advocacy is like building a house made of bricks. The only successful way is to do it one brick at a time. And all we can do is cement as many bricks as we can, as often as we can. When I think of what could happen if we are not our own best advocates for music education, it reminds me of what is at stake.
Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
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