Elective programs like art, music, and physical education made all the difference for me and my friends when I was growing up. The music department sponsored an event called the Hoedown when I was in elementary school, and it always turned out to be a great fundraising opportunity for the entire school. But because of space and funding issues, my old elementary school is threatening to axe the music department.
This story is all too common. If it upsets you as much as it does me, then don't sit back and let it happen--it's time to save the music! But you're just one person, you say? It doesn't matter. There are ways in which you can become active and make a difference in your community. Let me explain.
The first step is to become active with your local schools in any way possible. Public schools can always use more volunteers to help with activities and events. There are chaperones for field trips or participants in the school carnival needed year 'round. And don't think you have to be a parent to step in. Two of my good friends are long-standing volunteers at the elementary school we all went to together, and they're in their early twenties.
Taking an interest at such an early age is also a great way to get your peers interested in music advocacy. After all, you don't want all of these extracurricular programs to fade into the background before you even have children--then what will be left when they are ready for primary school?
Keep your eyes and ears open for music-related opportunities for the school choir, band, or orchestra. Music teachers can't be everywhere at once, so if you assist in finding field trips or performance opportunities, school officials can see that kids' participation is worthwhile and has tangible payoffs in the area.
If you have money to donate, then talk directly to instructors to find out what specific supplies they need. Do they require new instruments for underprivileged kids to play? Do they need enough sheet music for everyone in the class, or do they require traditional classroom supplies like dry erase markers? Find the need and then fill it.
Even if you're on a limited budget, you can find something to contribute. The same applies to other vital school programs like physical education and art. You can most likely afford a box of crayons or a new football.
Get involved with local non profit organizations to find out what they're doing. In Arizona, non profit groups have power to sway the school board and stretch donations even further. So don't wait for music programs in public schools to die. Do something about it today.
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