new dreams

  • From the Trenches: Promoting Your Program is No Longer an Option, It’s a Requirement!

    Mike Lawson | September 20, 2011

    By Bob Morrison

    Wow… where did the summer go? It feels like just yesterday school was wrapping up. Yet here we are facing the start of the new year: new hopes, new dreams, new goals for you and your students. It means planning your programs, selecting your music, getting your lesson plans arranged, reviewing your student roster, instrumentation or vocal range and… planning your advocacy activities!

    That’s right: I’m talking about planning advocacy strategy and activities to promote your program.

    “But Bob, I don’t have time to focus on advocacy” you may say.

    Well, if you do not take the time to plan how to advocate for and promote your program, who will? Yes, I know this can be time consuming. But fear not! Here are some ideas to help you plan as well as some resources to help get the job done!

    Letters to Parents: Everyone should do one. Welcome the parents and their child into your program for the new year. Outline your educational goals for the program and solicit the support of the parents to volunteer. Be sure to include some fascinating facts about the benefits of music education. Every parent wants to know that the decision to enroll their child in an activity or class will be rewarding.

    Letters to Local Newspapers: Send an open letter to the community about the new school year, outline past accomplishment of the program, talk about your excitement for the coming year and publish dates of concerts or appearances, inviting the public to attend.

    Teachable Moments: Look for opportunities to educate your administration, staff, parents, and the community with information about the success of your program and the benefits music education provides to students. Some of these moments are:

    • Comments from the stage during a concert.
    • Facts included in your concert program.
    • Facts included in the announcer’s script for halftime performances.
    • Play videos, public service announcements or news clips as people enter the auditorium for a concert.

    Engage Your Students: Over the past year, some of the most powerful video statements about the importance of music education have been developed by students. A great example was created by students from Boyertown, Pa., which has been shared around the country on YouTube [online at:].

    Embrace Technology: How do you use technology to promote your music program? Websites? Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Podcasts? YouTube? Newsfeeds? The new tools developed for the web and for social networking are tools you can use to help promote and advocate for your program. Here are just a few ideas:

    • Twitter: By following some key hashtags, you can follow the conversations of music and arts educators and gain some useful ideas for your program from some of our leading experts! Some of my favorite hash tags to follow are: #artsed (arts education) #musiced (music education)  #musedchat (chat on various music education topics) and #mpln (music education professional learning network).
    • Newsfeeds: This stream of information provides content for websites from reliable sources. Use any newsreader to create your own newsfeeds. Check out our daily arts education news feed at:
    • YouTube: Do you use YouTube to promote your program and create video for your site?  You should. Look on the YouTube website for some ideas how!
    • PowerPoint-Style Presentations: Before every concert or event download and customize a handy dandy presentation to run on a screen while people enter your event. This is a quick, concise, presentation of the case for how music benefits all students.
    • Concert Inserts: Download and customize concert program inserts for use with any of your concerts, programs or events. Available from
    • Widgets: These little snippets of code may be added to any webpage, blog, or social network. Use one of ours or create your own! Your students will LOVE these (and you will gain some “tech cred” in the process (that stands for Technology Credibility… it’s street cred for the tech set).

    And if you will only take one action, make it this:

    The one item that belongs in the arsenal of every music educator is the SupportMusic Community Action Kit. This “Tool Kit” for the music advocate has a wealth of ideas and materials in customizable formats to use in your community. Whether you are just starting your local advocacy campaign or find yourself in a crisis and need help to organizing your efforts, the SupportMusic Community Action Kit is the one tool you cannot afford to be without! You may download it for free at

    There you have it – some ideas to help promote and advocate for music and arts education during the coming school year. Within this list is something for everyone.

    Remember: it is up to each of us in music education to both make the case and empower others to become effective advocates for our programs. Like I wrote at the top of this article: If we don’t… who will?

    Do you have a tool or resource you would like us to share? Email me at, on facebook (bobmorrison) or find me on twitter @bobmorrison.

    Robert B. Morrison is the founder of Quadrant Arts Education Research, an arts education research and intelligence organization. In addition to other related pursuits in the field of arts education advocacy, Mr. Morrison has helped create, found, and run Music for All, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and, along with Richard Dreyfuss and the late Michael Kaman, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

    He may be reached directly at

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