The NAMM Foundation wants school board members to feel the benefits of music education – literally. At the 74th annual National School Board Association (NSBA) Conference, the NAMM Foundation seated school board members among the sounds coming from trumpets, trombones, bassoons, French horns, flutes, tubas, clarinets, oboes, and other woodwind and brass instruments during a student wind ensemble open rehearsal. As one of two music education advocacy sessions hosted by the NAMM Foundation, the musical event immersed board members in a concerted music-making experience.
The sessions were part the NAMM Foundation’s involvement as a platinum sponsor of the NSBA’s conference in New Orleans, April 5-7. The conference draws more than 5,000 school board members from across the country, all of whom are elected to serve and support the nation’s 50 million public school students. According to NAMM Foundation executive director Mary Leuhrsen, NAMM Foundation participates in the conference each year to make a lasting impression on district decision makers, as they head into budget season.
“If every school board member at the conference supported comprehensive music education with adequate funding that included high-quality, certified music teachers, we would impact 50 million children,” she said. “We help school board members address the challenges of funding, teacher recruitment, and curriculum development by connecting them to networks such as the SupportMusic Coalition and their local NAMM members.”
From its booth on the conference floor, the NAMM Foundation also recorded school board testimonials as part of its first-ever ‘Speak to the Nation’ project. In minute-long interviews, school board members recounted their struggles to keep arts education alive, and described how music education has changed students’ lives in their districts. The interviews will spread the word on the benefits of making music on the NAMM Foundation’s web site, SupportMusic advocacy materials, and on social media.
According to former NSBA president Sonny Savoie, NAMM Foundation-sponsored activities bring music education’s importance to the attention of a pivotal group of decision makers. “It takes people like the NAMM Foundation folks to make the difference in getting music out there to the schools,” he said. “I see the wonderful things music education does for students. The value of music and the arts are paramount to a child’s success and well being.”
The NAMM Foundation held additional advocacy sessions, a SupportMusic Coalition webinar, and, with partner VH1 Save the Music Foundation, celebrated Best Communities for Music Education designees at an evening reception. The three-day conference culminated with an enthusiastically attended drum circle event, sponsored by NAMM and Remo Drums.