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music teachers

  • Bring the Stimulus Package to School

    Mike Lawson | May 13, 2009

    The effects of the current economic crisis have had dramatic repercussions within all levels of the education community, leaving many music teachers extremely concerned about the survival of their programs and their jobs. According to an article in The New York Times, March 21 edition, part of the national economic stimulus package that is slated for education, in many states, will filter through to the music and the arts. One concern, though, is that states and local districts have significant leeway in how these dollars may be used, and they may be vying to divert the stimulus dollars to support a variety of other programs. This presents a critical time when arts programs must again rally for the support of their respective communities to ensure that they are deemed integral parts of their local systems.

    With nearly $40 billion in economic stimulus slated specifically for education, many schools will be receiving between $1,300 and $1,800 per student over the course of the next year. However, some states are considering cuts to existing education funding, which in essence is redirecting funds to shore up their budgets in other areas. In The Times, Molly Hunter, the executive director of the New Jersey-based finance-advocacy group Education Justice, indicates that, "States have big shortfalls in their budgets, and there's going to be the temptation to use the stimulus money for that purpose." She notes that the practice of "supplanting," or replacing, state funds with federal funds is generally highly restricted by federal guidelines, but there are always loopholes through which some of these rules can be skirted.

    The second concern about the education stimulus package is the equitable distribution of the funds between under-funded systems and those that have significant capital resources. "Utah, where a $1.3 billion budget deficit has threatened deep school cuts, will get about $655 million in education stimulus money, or about $1,250 per student, according to the federal Department of Education. Wyoming, which has no deficit and has not cut school budgets in many years, will get about $1,684 per student." This situation, unfortunately keeps music out of the schools of many districts that simply can't afford to support a program even with the economic recovery money.

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  • Technology/Research Integrated Music Mastery

    Mike Lawson | April 27, 2007Learning to play with resonant tone, correct posture and hand position, accurate pitches and intonation, precise rhythms, and musical phrasing and style are skills we music teachers want to help instrumental students to master. Read More...
  • Patriotic Traditions

    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    During the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key penned America's national anthem after seeing that the flag flying over Ft. McHenry had survived the day's intense bombardment. Many of us can remember the extraordinary performance of the national anthem that Whitney Houston delivered at the Super Bowl a few years back. Prior to that time I cannot remember anyone who overwhelmed an audience with such a powerful musical interpretation of "The Star Spangled Banner." However, there is some very disheartening evidence that very few people in our country actually know the words and background to this national treasure.

    Harris Interactive recently conducted a poll that provided an in-depth look at the lack of knowledge many Americans displayed regarding the national anthem. The result revealed that "nearly two-thirds of all Americans don't know all of the words to the Star Spangled Banner", and "of those who claim to know the words, only 39 percent know what follows - 'whose broad stripes and bright stars' (answer: 'through the perilous fight')."

    Another interesting statistic that came out of this survey was that 70 percent of Americans learned the national anthem in school music class. With budget cuts affecting the number of music teachers in schools and general music instruction, however, this statistic is in grave danger of slipping disgracefully lower.

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  • How to Prevent Teacher Burnout

    Mike Lawson | July 1, 2002

    Approximately 6,000 music teachers leave the profession each year. According to education statistics from the U.S. Office of Education, 40 percent list job dissatisfaction as the main reason for leaving.

    Satisfaction, then, is the key to retaining teachers and helping to reduce stress to a level of toleration that helps to eliminate burnout. Burnout is one major culprit in teacher dissatisfaction. By doing a few things, as a teacher, to be effective and satisfied, burnout can be eliminated.

    Burnout is stress that’s not relieved. It exists in all careers. Burnout results from a continuous effort to do the job with no rewards.

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