Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Improving Music Education in Our Schools & Communities

Posted by Najean Lee:
Greetings from the Windy City! Forgive me if this is on the long side and believe me when I say this is already quite pared down! I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, so there’s a chance this may be my only entry. For those of you following along at home, we really wish you were here! But it’s great to see just how many folks did make it out, and I have to say that having so many of you in one place is a huge part of why Conference is such a great experience, especially for me since I don’t often get to interact with members from our lonely DC office. Today I sat in on two sessions discussing music education. The first was the Education & Community Engagement constituency session, which examined how orchestras can be advocates for in-school music programs. Rather than recap everything, I’ll just note a couple of things that I found particularly memorable. First, the Dream Out Loud ( campaign is really fantastic, judging from the clips we saw today anyway. The CSO has found a way to bridge the gap between young students and professional musicians by profiling several orchestra musicians. In addition to a poster campaign, there are also more in-depth video interviews in which the musicians share their stories about how they got involved with music, some of the challenges they faced as they began learning their instruments, and what they gained from their early experiences – it was truly inspirational, even to the proverbial choir that already believes in the message! One common thread that ran between this session and a following Toolbox session titled “Music in Our Schools and In Our Future” was a focus on data. Before getting any successful project off the ground, you need to gather data so you understand your environment, the challenges, and the opportunities. Similarly, when Susan Bodilly from RAND was asked in the Toolbox session what one thing orchestras, or really any organization, should do in order to strengthen arts education in its community, she advised conducting an audit to learn about what types of arts are being provided. Once you have the data, you can begin to detect trends, and most importantly – you can begin building compelling arguments to convince other organizations to join in partnership with you and even contribute funding so that your efforts can be sustained over time. I’ll end here, but if any of you are interested to learn more about either of these sessions feel free to shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share my notes!

No comments: