The current administration plans to cut $3 billion from the Education Department’s budget in 2017 and $9.2 billion in 2018, according to Michael Stratford of Politico. This is concerning when, as Jill Hambek of The Washington Times notes, arts programs — including music education — are typically at risk during budgetary cuts. That’s despite parents and teachers both insisting they’d rather see cuts to gym or Advanced Placement classes, according to Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K-12 Music Education in the United States 2015, a white paper funded by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation.
While continual cuts to music education are frustrating for these parents and music teachers who are supportive of the arts, advocates can also be thankful for the following organizations that are still devoted to the delivery of quality music education.
The Roots of Music: New Orleans Non-Profit Empowering Youth Through Music
Image via Flickr by breauxtography
New Orleans non-profit organization The Roots of Music looks to empower disadvantaged 9- to 14-year-olds in Louisiana’s largest city through musical education, academic support, and mentorship. Students receive free round-trip bus transport to its after-school music classes as well as nutritious hot meals to maximize participation. The charity also supplies more than 150 instruments to its students. Proud of its hometown, The Roots of Music focuses on protecting and promoting New Orleans’ musical and cultural heritage.
The Roots of Music students enjoy opportunities at home and abroad, as its co-founder and artistic director Derrick Tabb told Sam D’Arcangelo of Offbeat Magazine. Tabb will be taking 13 students to North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where they will represent the organization’s brass band The Marching Crusaders, sharing the bill with acclaimed international artists such as Erykah Badu, Usher, and Jamiroquai.
“It’s very important to get to see other parts of the world,” Mr. Tabb said. “I think this will be a great opportunity for these children and for this program to be recognized abroad and not just at home.”
Girls Rock Camp Alliance: Music Camps Coming Together to Teach Girls
Girls Rock Camp Alliance challenges the notion that rock music is just for men, encouraging girls to explore the musical genre in a nurturing environment. Through camps held all over the world, Girls Rock Camp Alliance hopes participants will become more confident and find their unique voices.
At Girls Rock camps, participants form bands, write original songs, and perform them at concerts at real live music venues. However, the camps are about much more than music, as Casi Brown explained to Shelby Beckwith of SouthSound Talk. After founding Bellingham Girls Rock Camp, she brought the concept to Tacoma, Washington, in 2017. While lessons about playing instruments, songwriting, and performance are central to the program, the camps also have empowerment and social justice workshops and leadership skill-building initiatives.
“I think creative outlets can help people of all ages reflect on their thoughts and experiences and find comfort/therapy in the creative process of turning those thoughts and experiences into something that can be shared,” Ms. Brown explained.
Girls Rock Camp Alliance strives to be accessible to all students, so they typically have low tuition costs or fees on a sliding scale. Financial aid may also be available to qualifying applicants.
VH1 Save the Music Foundation: Putting Music Education Back in Schools
VH1 Save the Music Foundation pushes against funding cuts and strives to put music education back in public elementary and middle schools across America. Formed in 1997, its Idealist.org profile states it is the world’s first that’s devoted to restoring music programs in the nation’s schools. VH1 Save the Music Foundation has donated $53 million worth of new instruments to more than 2,000 public schools across 247 U.S. districts since its launch, giving approximately 3 million children music education they’d otherwise miss out on.
Allen M. Stearne, a music teacher in Philadelphia, noticed a significant difference in his students following the introduction of VH1 Save the Music Foundation’s resources. In a statement on the foundation’s website, he said, “There has been marked improvement in the students’ academic, behavioral, and disciplinary progress for those who have taken part in the instrumental music program donated by VH1 Save The Music Foundation. With that said, the improvements in the school climate since the grant was given [are] remarkably more positive. This, in turn, positively benefits each student enrolled in the school.”
MusicLink Foundation: Helping Children Connect With Music Teachers
Musical instruments are of no use unless there are teachers who can help students learn to play them. MusicLink Foundation addresses this need by connecting disadvantaged American and Canadian children with qualified music teachers offering their services at reduced rates.
Since its 1992 launch, MusicLink Foundation has helped more than 6,500 children in financial need spend more than 470,000 hours learning music, according to Great Nonprofits. In addition to tuition, MusicLink Foundation students receive opportunities to perform live and attend music camps. They may also receive awards recognizing their achievements within the program.
MusicLink Foundation also sources and donates musical instruments to needy children. It repairs instruments as required and even delivers and tunes pianos in students’ homes. All these efforts look to make music and music education more accessible to students who might otherwise miss out.
Results published on the MusicLink Foundation website demonstrate the nonprofit’s impact. After participating in the program for at least four years, 99 percent of children go on to attend college. Nearly two in five receive scholarships for their higher education. These results are impressive but perhaps not surprising considering the long-established link between music education and academic performance.
If you’re inspired by the work of these tireless music education organizations and want to advance your music education, consider enrolling in a Master of Music in music education program. This online degree can help you pursue leadership positions, better connect with students, create personalized learning plans, implement new technologies into your music classroom, and much more.
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/breauxtos/8424670140/sizes/m/