What started as a single day of music advocacy by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) back in March of 1973 has grown into a month of celebration and advocacy for music in our schools. The tireless efforts of NYSSMA, other state organizations, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to promote the importance of music education has been joined by the other arts, and March is now recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as “Arts in Our Schools Month.”
Music in Our Schools Month® (MIOSM) can mean so many things to so many people. For some, it means participating in an Advocacy Day in their state capitol and taking their ensemble to perform for legislators. This happens every year in Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Utah, Maryland, New York, Florida, California, Iowa, and Florida with new efforts being undertaken by others like Delaware and Missouri. Other programs participate in online performances or perform at the local or school level. But most importantly, MIOSM offers each of us the opportunity to remind our communities, legislatures and other decision makers that music and all the arts must remain or be reinstated as an integral and important part of the core curriculum for every child.
Having a performance or mini-concert to celebrate music in your school or community during the month of March is an excellent way to advocate for quality music education for all students.
So, what are some things you can do to celebrate music in your school during the month of March? Consider having a concert in your school—even if it is a mini-concert. These songs that celebrate music would be a perfect way to begin or end the performance, and the Pentatonix song Sing might be a great piece to frame the concert. Elementary titles could include Why We Sing, In the Name of Music or And This Shall Be for Music. Great middle school titles include Celebrate Music, How Can I Keep from Singing? and Sing to Me. For high school, you might want to think about Flight Song, The Awakening or If Music Be the Food of Love.
Invite administrators, local politicians, and parents to attend or even perform with the group, or think about inviting a principal, an administrator, or even a politician to be a “guest conductor” for one of the numbers. Get the entire music department involved and end the performance with one big group song as the finale. Since Music in Our Schools Month has been expanded to include all of the arts, don’t forget to include your visual arts, theater, and dance teachers and students—they can be powerful allies!
Other ideas to celebrate music in our schools include:
- Flash mobs that sing or play can be fun and easy to do in the school environment – just make sure that you have checked with the building administration and other teachers it may affect first!
- Have students create and record 30-second audio/video productions or a podcast that demonstrates the importance of music in their lives. Better yet, have students ask parents, teachers, administrators, or politicians and local lawmakers to be part of their production with the emphasis on the importance of a music or arts education. There are many more ideas and activities available on the NAfME Music in Our Schools Month® website.
In addition to celebrating music in our schools with musical performances, make sure you have something to hand your guests—something they can take with them that stresses the importance of music education in our schools and in our children’s lives. Some great advocacy tools including handouts, ideas, and toolkits that can be used during the month are available from the NAMM Foundation, NAfME, and state music education associations.
How do you celebrate music at your school? Tell us about it in the comments. And check out our list of songs that celebrate music itself.