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Commentary

  • Mixing Music and Politics

    D.L. Johnson | April 1, 2002

    Politics. Now there’s a word I’ve seen many of my colleagues try to ignore. Politics is nothing more than perception. Politics is how we are perceived by others. Many music teachers do everything in their power to not let politics control their programs. And yet, it is a part of what we do, whether we like it or not. When I hear music teachers complain about politics, it usually means they have lost control of their programs.

    Over the past several years, I have been called into schools on numerous occasions to help resolve issues from requiring participation in marching band in order to be in jazz band to whether it is okay to charge for concerts to cutting music programs. In most situations, I found the music directors were just not speaking at the same level as their administrators. I’ll have to admit that most administrators, unless they have been trained in music education, have little or no understanding of just what we are doing as music educators. Most administrators truly want to understand music education but have little or no time to observe and study the subject.

    When it comes time for your administration to evaluate your performance as a teacher, most of us get a positive report. In reality, most administrators admire what we are doing, but have very little knowledge of the subject to know whether things are going well or badly. Usually, administrators only get involved when something goes terribly wrong. Even then they often have no understanding of how dealing with music education should be handled.

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