Good News!

Mike Lawson • May 2023Perspective • May 11, 2023

With the beginning of spring comes festivals, ensemble trips, warmer weather, and of course, seasonal allergies. This spring, the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants) was in April instead of its usual date in January. It was my first time attending NAMM, and it left me feeling optimistic about our profession as music educators. To those toiling on the front lines of music education, it’s easy to fall into a doom and gloom mindset. The truth is the music industry generates over $65 billion (yes, billion) dollars per year. Increasingly, NAMM and its members who account for much of that, recognize they must invest in music education to ensure the long-term health of the industry. NAMM dedicated a large percentage of their sessions and significant resources to education topics. Bonus! I saw Stevie Wonder.

Another reason for optimism is the rosy prospects of a career as a music educator. There are job vacancies, and lots of them. It’s time for universities and colleges to stop pushing music performance degrees of dubious worth and instead, serve the market by producing terrific music educators.

Adding to my optimism is the widespread recognition throughout our profession that music education is needed for ALL students, not just the ones who join band, orchestra, or chorus. This issue of SBO+ focuses on jazz and modern band and marks the beginning of a partnership between SBO+ and the Jazz Education Network (JEN) and we give you a guide to the many summer jazz festivals. There’s also an item in our Headlines section about a new mariachi program. 

There are so many students in our schools who want to be involved in music making who don’t fit our traditional models. Many music educators are embracing this and developing innovative ways to reach those students. At the NAMM Show, I was hanging out with former SBO+ editor and now artistpro publisher Mike Lawson. He has had a lifetime career in music because decades ago a teacher recognized that the kid with the long hair who just wanted to play “garage band” guitar had some talent and encouraged him to sing in chorus and to play in jazz band. Be the teacher who finds these lifelong musicians who aren’t currently in our rehearsal rooms.

Speaking of innovative ways to teach, be sure to check out the article on how a teacher motivated her middle school students to learn music theory. 

So, get out and smell the roses! It’s always a great time to teach music and SBO+ is here to help.

Col. (Ret.) Thomas Palmatier

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