Advocacy

The mission of MMEA is to support music teachers in Maryland schools. Advocacy on your behalf is one way of many this objective is pursued. Since every program has different goals and individual needs, the following websites offer ideas and tools to aid in garnering the most support and resources for your music program. These sites cover the state of Maryland, regional, local and state agencies, federal institutions, independent advocacy organizations, MENC, and other groups that provide information to further arts and music education.

In advocating for any endeavor, knowledge is power. As music teachers, we know the value of our work to children and how its impact can be felt far beyond the classroom. Our lives are busy meeting the responsibilities of what are compelled to do: teach music. The primary goal is to help children become the best musicians possible in the time we can work with them. This task in itself is complex, regardless of the myriad other duties we, as educators, must complete every day.

Advocacy is an important component to any successful program. This is a daily task undertaken by music teachers in the course of their standard duties. We inspire our students to play well so that –

  • the parents will be proud and compliment the principal on fine curricular choices,
  • the principal will report student and school success to the superintendent,
  • the superintendent will allocate money through the school board,
  • the school board will work for increased funding by showing the best of their district to
  • the education leaders in the state; and most importantly, so that
  • the students will be enriched by music in their lives.

This is advocacy and what music teachers do every day they enter classrooms across the state of Maryland to teach young musicians.

Thoughts on Advocating by Ron Frezzo, Advocacy Chair

We may be turning the tide…NCLB and its manic obsession with testing taking and the data it produces may have peaked and common sense starting to return to the classroom. Study after study is showing the fallacy of basics-only education and more importantly – beyond “ars gratis ars” – the positive affects that the study of music has on other areas of cognitive development. I am trying to read all I can from NAfME, Groundswell, the general press, science magazines, etc….I’m excerpting from a study reviewed by Tom Jacobs in Miller-McCune.com (Dec. 5) about a study at the University of Regensburg, Germany on improvement in processing spatial information…… After testing: Among musicians, men scored just a bit higher than the education students, but women’s scores rocketed up, to the point where they did slightly better than their male counterparts.

“Because the female musicians in this study show a higher speed of cognitive processing,” the researchers write, “it is possible that their ability to process information quickly, combined with their long-term motor training, may explain their enhanced mental rotation ability.” The researchers speculate that musicians learn to think in terms of spatial relationships “because notes are coded in terms of their spatial positions.” This makes intuitive sense. A musician, like an athlete, instinctively learns to navigate through space: one reads notes on a staff, while another masters the parameters of a tennis court or football field. While this one small study is hardly conclusive, it provides more evidence of the drawbacks of a basics-only approach to education. Such an approach ignores the ways important mental processes are enhanced by learning that occurs outside the core curriculum. This research suggests, in the words of Pietsch and Jansen, that “playing an instrument or a sport for many years has an enhancing effect on a specific cognitive task” — one that confers real-world benefits.

Recent Wall Street Journal Article on the joys and benefits of music study as an adult.

Check out this recent research on the benefits of Music Education:

Northwestern University Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory

Musicians Spot Mistakes More Quickly and More Accurately than Non-Musicians (NAfME, July 21, 2014)

How Playing Music Affects the Developing Brain (Common Health, July 17, 2014)

Music Impacts Our Brains: Blood Flow Increases After Musical Training (Science World Report, May 10, 2014)

The Benefits of Music Education (Royal Conservatory of Music, April 2014)

The Surprising Science Behind What Music Does to Our Brains (Fast Company, Dec. 6, 2013)

Musical Training Optimizes Brain Function (Psychology Today, Nov. 13, 2013)

Is Music the Key to Success (New York Times, Oct. 12, 2013)

The Importance of Keeping the Beat (Northwestern Univ. Sept 18, 2013)

Music Lessons Enhance the Quality of School Life (Science Daily - Aug. 30, 2013)

Singing Changes Your Brain (Time Magazine - Aug. 16, 2013)

J.D. Wilson on the Importance of the Arts (Winston-Salem Journal, July 22, 2013)

Why Music Makes our Brains Sing (New York Times, June 7, 2013)

Choir Singing Could Help Reduce Anxiety, Study Finds (Huffington Post, April 28, 2013)

Babies Brains Benefit from Music Lessons, Even Before They Can Walk and Talk (Science Daily, May 9, 2012)

Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind (Scientific American Oct. 26, 2010)

SAT Scores of Students Who Study the Arts

Northwestern University study - "Music training primes the nervous system and boosts learning"

Music Education Can Help Children Improve Reading Skills

Adolescents Involved With Music Do Better In School

NBC Report on Link Between Music Education and Cognitive Development