Tools of the Trade

SBO Staff • ChoralFrom the TrenchesSeptember 2008 • September 16, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Time to get ready for the new school year, which means planning your programs, selecting your music, getting your lesson plans arranged, reviewing your student roster and vocal range and… planning your advocacy activities!

What, you didn’t think about that last one? I thought so! No time to focus on advocacy? Well if you do not care enough to plan how to advocate and promote your program, who will?

Yes, I know this can be time consuming. But fear not, we have prepared a special article and Web page to provide you with all of the “Tools of the Trade” you will need to turn you and your supporters into world-class advocates.

To make things a little easier everything mentioned in this article all of the tools, articles, materials, resources is available on-line at:

We have also organized all of our tools into categories, so be sure to save this issue of your magazine or cut out this article for future reference. I guarantee this will be one tool you will most certainly use!

Video One of the best ways to make a difficult point without coming off as too aggressive is to use humor. One of the best tools I have found to make the point about the impact of No Child Left Behind is the song and video, “Not on the Test” by the famous singer/songwriter Tom Chapin. Here’s a sample:

Go on to sleep now third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you’ll do just fine.
It’s reading and math… forget all the rest.
You don’t need to know what is not on the test.

You can download the video or the MP3 file of the song free from the link listed above!

Cartoons Another effective humor tool is the use of cartoons. The Internet is full of cartoons about No Child Left Behind and the reduction to music and arts programs. Just Google “arts education and NCLB” and click on the images tab. This will deliver a treasure trove of materials for advocates to use to make the point about the negative impact of too much testing, and the point is often made in a light-hearted, but effective, manner.

When I first founded Music for All, we developed a formula that we believe best represents how to improve access to music and arts education programs. The formula is:

Data empowers advocacy. Advocacy empowers public policy. Public policy creates change. And change creates… more music and arts programs!

Information regarding the status and condition of music and arts programs will be a critical factor as we move through the coming years. Gathering data on your program is just as important. Here are some reports to consider as you look at your own programs:

  • Center for Education Policy Documents Decline in Time for Arts The new study of how the No Child Left Behind Act continues to narrow instructional time spending more time on reading, math, and science but squeezing out the arts.
  • Original Study Shows “No Child Left Behind” Curtails Study of the Arts The first significant study of how the No Child Left Behind Act is influencing instructional time and professional development.
  • California 50 Percent Drop in Music Students During Last Five Years. Music for All’s groundbreaking report The Sound of Silence – The Unprecedented Decline of Music Education in California Public Schools uncovers a 50 percent decline in student participation in music.
  • An Unfinished Canvas The 2007 Report on Arts Education in California reinforces Sound of Silence findings.
  • Withing Our Power: The Report on Arts Education in New Jersey Music for All’s landmark study on arts education in every New Jersey School. The report is the final work of the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project.

We have more reports on the way so keep checking back to this link!

More and more people are taking about arts education and creativity. There are several tools available to you to help make this case.

  • Tough Choices of Tough Times The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, from the National Center on Education and the Economy.
  • Creativity, Education and the Arts My interview with the world-renowned creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson.
  • Beyond the Three Rs Voter Attitudes toward 21st Century Skills
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