Celebrate Music!

Scott R. Sheehan • March 2024NAfME Neighborhood • March 30, 2024

March is Music in Our Schools month (MIOSM)! This is the 39th anniversary of the national celebration promoting the transformative power of music in students’ lives and its impact on their social and emotional growth, cognitive development, and overall well-being. Join tens of thousands of music educators and students nationwide to celebrate Music In Our Schools month and share why music is so important.

The NAfME belief statement says:

Music is unique to the human experience and is essential to our humanity.

– Music communicates and connects people across time and cultures. 

– Music unlocks human creative expression and is a lens to the experiences and interpretations of the world. 

– Music is basic to human wholeness through our emotions, intellect, and physical and spiritual well-being.

Music is all this and so much more! It is impossible to quantify the impact music has on each person’s life, and that is why we continue to advocate for music as part of a well-rounded education for every student. 

This year’s theme is I See ME. ME has a purposeful dual meaning as it represents music education in its broadest sense. Music education, from infancy to adulthood, should be seen and celebrated in every school and community across the country. Every student should have equitable access to a music education that is relevant and responsive to their community and their culture. ME also represents everyone seeing themselves involved in music in school. Music is personal, and each student comes to our classrooms with their own unique musical identity(ies). It is our responsibility as music educators to make sure all our students are seen, heard, and know they belong in music. Additionally, this year’s theme is a continuation of the 2023 theme of Music is All of Us. We know music brings people together and everyone should have a place to collaborate, share, and experience music. I See ME synthesizes these ideas so every student can understand the significance of seeing themselves represented and reflected in the music they learn, in the images and materials that are shared, and in the people who are a part of their musical journey. 

Here are ten ideas you and your students can do to celebrate Music In Our Schools month:

1. Check out the resources and lesson plans on the NAfME website to learn more about this year’s MIOSM theme and advocacy campaigns. You and your students can share your stories about how music has impacted your lives.

2. Invite administrators, colleagues, parents, or community leaders to your music classroom or to a rehearsal. Have the students share a brief “informance” about the music they are studying and what it means to them. Have them describe the life-lessons they learn through music and will carry with them into adulthood.

3. Ask students to share what music means to them and then share their stories in announcements each day of March.

4. Host a special Music In Our Schools month concert to feature all aspects of your music program from elementary school to high school. Invite a local college or university ensemble to join you. Promote the special event to the public and invite local personal care homes to bring their residents or share a livestream link so they can watch at home. (Be sure to secure the proper copyright permissions.) 

5. Offer a composition workshop and ask students at all grade levels to compose a piece of music reflecting this year’s MIOSM theme. Bring the students together and ask a local composer or community musician to offer feedback about the works. Ask everyone to share their process of creating new music and to describe their musical decision making.

6. Start a Tri-M chapter (many thanks to those who already have a chapter) and ask the students for their ideas about how they would like to celebrate MIOSM this year. Often the students are more creative than us and whatever they come up with will be relevant and meaningful to them.

7. Have a conversation with your students about how they see themselves as musicians. What are their experiences and musical interests outside of school?  Ask them to share a song or piece of music that makes them excited or is special to them. Then ask the students to share this lesson with their families and ask them about their favorite songs.

8. Host a side-by-side experience with your elementary school students and your middle or high school students. Have them perform short, self-selected solos or chamber pieces for each other and share why they chose the music they did. Bonus points if they composed their own music to share!

9. Initiate a campaign and have your students write a brief letter to local elected officials and business leaders to express the importance of music in schools and describe what opportunities are offered at your school. You can also ask each student to share the letter with five neighbors who aren’t aware of your school’s music program. You could turn this into a fundraising opportunity or donation drive if students deliver the letters with a short song or instrumental piece. Community members often can relate to the school fight song or alma mater.

10. Host a MIOSM faculty concert, recital, or assembly and invite the entire staff to participate. Everyone can sing a song or two or dust off their instruments. Ask the non-music teachers to share what music means to them. The students will love it!

Although March is our designated month to celebrate, we know music is in our schools all year long. This year, be intentional and ask your students about their musical interests and what music means to them. Let them feel seen and heard in their musical journeys. There is no better time than now to advocate for music every chance we get!

Scott Sheehan is the president of NAfME

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!