Given the upheaval caused by COVID-19, along with the uncertainty of what teaching and learning will look like for the 2020-2021 school year, it’s critically important to connect with school administrators regarding the importance of music education. The intent of this page is to share talking points to consider when discussing options for this fall.
Keep in mind that school administrators, like music teachers, are experiencing considerable stress as they work through this challenging situation. Be strategic in terms of timing and approach, and always keep students at the center of these important discussions.
TALKING POINTS TO CONSIDER
Music Education IS Possible – When considering music, administrators may focus on traditional performing groups functioning in traditional ways – and therefore assume that music education is not realistic in an online environment. Assure them that high-quality music education IS possible. Remind them that music education may look different in terms of how teaching and learning occur, but the core of what music education entails is still vital. Share your vision for what music teaching and learning will look like this fall, and ask for support in bringing these ideas to fruition for the benefit of all students.
Opportunities to Plan – Music educators were asked to explore new ways of carrying out teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was new territory for all of us – and all of this happened very quickly. Some approaches were more effective than others, yet we learned a lot in the process, given personal experiences, discoveries about technology, online sharing communities, and more. We now have time to plan – and use our experiences to guide us in developing distance-learning strategies that provide rich and meaningful ways for all students to engage in the study of music.
Holistic Approaches – As spelled out in the WMEA Music Standards, music education encompasses four artistic processes: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting. If you have historically focused on performing, highlight the opportunity that now exists to spend more time on the other artistic processes in the months ahead, even as you explore meaningful ways for students to perform in an online environment.
Social and Emotional Learning – Due to the nature of the arts, students experience meaningful and authentic social and emotional learning within music classrooms. Given the upheaval caused by COVID-19, it is more important than ever that we support the social and emotional well-being of all students. Music education is a perfect way to do just that, whether in-person or online. Share how your visions for teaching and learning will support students in this regard.
Community Building – Music brings people together. Given the prospect of distance learning this fall, we must find healthy and safe ways to maintain a sense of community within our schools. Share ideas about how music can connect students, teachers, and community in meaningful ways. Consider interdisciplinary opportunities that exist, given the removal of traditional classroom walls. Highlight ways that music projects and initiatives can be shared with the greater community, shining a positive spotlight on the innovative ways that schools are meeting the needs of all students.
Importance of Music Education – Don’t forget to discuss the inherent value of music itself in the lives of all students. As expressed in the WMEA position statement (above), “Intentional engagement with music leads to a richer and more meaningful life, as it helps students appreciate beauty, express emotion, develop creativity, value themselves and those around them, and connect with the global community.” All students deserve this opportunity. It is up to us – as teachers and administrators – to make it so.
POSITION STATEMENTS – STATE AND NATIONAL
Consider utilizing language that is consistent with the messages being shared by WMEA and NAfME, including:
WMEA COVID-19 Position Statement – “It is the position of Wisconsin Music Educators Association that, despite the challenges associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic, all children deserve equal access to a credible and well-rounded education that includes high-quality study of music and the arts, regardless of the mode of delivery in which teaching and learning occur. Study of the arts, including music, is fundamentally important as it connects people to that which makes us uniquely human. In addition, music and arts education support the social and emotional well-being of students and nurture the creation of a welcoming school environment that encourages students to express themselves in safe and positive ways. Now, more than ever, all Wisconsin students need – and deserve – music and arts education as part of a well-rounded education.”
WMEA Position Statement – Music Education for ALL Wisconsin Students – “It is the position of Wisconsin Music Educators Association that all children deserve equal access to a credible and well-rounded education that includes high-quality study of music and the arts, taught by certified music and arts teachers. Grounded in standards that highlight the artistic processes Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting, the study of music develops knowledge, skills, and dispositions that provide lifelong benefits to students as individuals and members of a global society, as follows:
- Intentional engagement with music leads to a richer and more meaningful life, as it helps students appreciate beauty, express emotion, develop creativity, value themselves and those around them, and connect with the global community.
- The study of music supports crucial brain development and leads to educational outcomes considered essential for college, career, and citizenship readiness, including: heightened social and emotional awareness, elevated engagement and achievement, and enhanced critical thinking.
- The ability to express oneself through music and the arts builds self-efficacy, nurtures and reflects different cultures, and breaks down traditional barriers, emphasizing commonalities and reinforcing that which makes us uniquely human.
Music and the arts are essential components of a well-rounded education for all children in Wisconsin. As such, support for music education is critical, for the well-being of our students and the welfare of our society.”
NAfME Statement – Arts Education is Essential – “It is imperative that all students have access to an equitable delivery of arts education that includes dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts that supports their educational, social, and emotional well-being, taught by certified professional arts educators in partnership with community arts providers.”
EXISTING LEGISLATION – NATIONAL AND STATE
Be sure to share information regarding the following pieces of legislation, which provide direct support for the inclusion of music education. Emphasize how this set shows that our nation and state recognize the value of music education as part of a well-rounded education for all students.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015, enumerates music and the arts as part of a well-rounded education and specifically articulates that music should be a part of every child’s education, no matter their personal circumstance.
Wisconsin DPI Administrative Rule PI 8.01 – Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Administrative Rule PI 8.01 articulates that: “music instruction shall be provided for all pupils in grades kindergarten through 6 and shall be performed by or under the direction of a licensed music teacher. Music instruction including general music, vocal music, and instrumental music shall be available to all pupils in grades 7-12 and shall be taught by a licensed music teacher.”
Wisconsin Act 85 – On February 5, 2020 Wisconsin Governor Evers approved 2019 Wisconsin Act 85 (formerly Assembly Bill 67), which: “requires the Department of Public Instruction to include in the annual school district and school accountability report, commonly referred to as school and school district report cards, the percentage of pupils participating in music, dance, drama, and visual arts. Under the bill, DPI must include this information for each high school and school district and must also include the statewide percentage of pupils participating in each subject. The bill specifies that this information may not be used to evaluate a school’s performance or school district’s improvement.”