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Nearly 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs as part of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In, held May 21 to 24.

The delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education. 
 
The Advocacy week began on Monday, May 21 with a Day of Service at The Kennedy Center assisting with the D.C. Public School Music Festival. Members of the group guided students through the performance process, as well as provided needed maintenance and repair to many of the student’s instruments. In the evening, the delegation welcomed prominent news contributor and author Charlie Sykes for an address on the current state of politics in America. 
 
On Tuesday, the group prepared for their efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training, during which they were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); a landmark in federal education policy, which places more emphasis on a well-rounded education - including music - and gives more decision-making to states and local districts. A variety of policy and arts leaders briefed the group, including the Arts Education Partnership, the Education Commission on the States, the Country Music Association, and Turnaround Arts. At the morning meeting, Music Matters, a new compilation of research was released by the Arts Education Partnership, the Country Music Association, and The NAMM Foundation. The research piece underscores a variety of academic and behavioral benefits such as increased focus, managing and navigating problems, and enhanced memory and vocabulary development than non-musicians. A copy of Music Matterscan be downloaded here: https://www.ecs.org/music-matters/
 
That evening, The NAMM Foundation awarded the SupportMusic Champion Award to Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The award was presented in recognition of the Representative’s tireless work, and strong support of music education, including her lead role in the 2015 passage of the bipartisan ESSA. The Representative is also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional STEAM Caucus (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), a bipartisan group which recognizes the benefits of the arts and sciences in developing critical thinking skills for success in career and life. Of the award, Bonamici shared, “I grew up in a home full of music, and I understand and appreciate the power of music to teach, entertain, engage, and connect people of all ages and backgrounds. In Congress, I’m working to make sure all students get a well-rounded education that includes music.”
 
On Wednesday, the group held 180 meetings with various elected officials to advocate for full funding of school-level music programs across the nation, as stipulated in ESSA, and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses.
 
In addition to the advocacy work, the delegation held a special Congressional reception, held on Thursday, May 24 in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol that brought together arts advocates and policymakers, and underscored the importance of continuing to advocate for all children to have access to music education. 



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