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Protecting Music Programs from Pandemic Fallout

Protecting Music Programs from Pandemic Fallout

Curated from the National Association for Music Education –

The public health crisis is necessitating unprecedented disruption to our country’s education system. Schools, students and families have demonstrated remarkable flexibility and resilience as they’ve done their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Specifically, the online actions of music educators and students have inspired us all as they’ve shared their music, helping us to feel more connected, process our emotions, and reflect on our shared humanity during a time marked by isolation, grief, and uncertainty.

By now we know that the effects of this crisis are not limited to the domain of public health. The implications for our national, state, and local economies are difficult to estimate, but we can be sure that challenges lie ahead. In recent days, members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) have raised concerns regarding potential ramifications for their programs when considering anticipated constraints on resources. Such concerns are valid and call attention to the perennial need for effective music education advocacy.

Members of our Association are unified in the core belief that access to a robust music education is in the interest of every student’s well-being. Now is the time for us to all consider how we articulate this belief and call others to join us in sharing it. On April 27, the National Executive Board of NAfME issued Music and Arts Education: Heart of Our School Community, a statement reaffirming the importance of music and arts education to our nation’s schools.

The most powerful benefits of music education are those that are intangible and difficult to describe. The abilities to confidently perform music, to respond to music in an informed way, to exercise creativity by imagining new music, and connect music to other areas of life – these benefits are so enriching that they are sufficient to justify music as a curriculum to be made accessible to all. They also establish a foundation upon which students can pursue personal growth that will serve them throughout their lives.

Recent efforts in research and standards policy lends credence to an argument that music educators have made for years: that music education helps students in their social and emotional development. We can effectively address this idea through the lens of social-emotional learning (SEL), which refers to the development of competencies across the domains of “self, others, and responsible decision-making,” as summarized by SEL and music education expert Scott Edgar. Social-emotional safety and well-being will be front and center in the thinking of school administrators and leaders this fall. The ability to articulate how your music program supports SEL for your students can help you be an effective music and arts advocate in your community.

NAfME will be working with our colleagues throughout the music and arts education ecosystem to create a unified statement in support of music and arts education, including how the arts support social-emotional learning. This additional statement will be available for the field this summer. To learn more about this unified approach, as well as updates on music education policy in the midst of COVID-19, please review this archived webinar.  Additional information about SEL can be found in this webinar featuring Scott Edgar and Bob Morrison, founder of Quadrant Research.


Rob Edwards, Public Policy Manager, May 7, 2020. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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