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T I PS FROM THE TE ACHER

Fo u r Simple Steps

to Get Started With Advocacy

By Kimberly Deverell The idea of being an advocate can sound overwhelming. The time commitment and the task of learning the legislative terminology can seem like a lot to handle, and the cynical view that one person cannot actually make a difference is widespread. I’m here to dispel these myths and show you advocacy is a lot simpler than it sounds. Half the battle is showing up and being knowledgeable. What is advocacy? There are many definitions out there: supporting a specific cause, influencing political change through action, philanthropic efforts, etc. But, by far, my favorite description of advocacy is “passion in action.” Let’s face it; we are all in this industry because music has somehow positively impacted our lives, and it is something we are passionate about. Chances are you already are an advocate; you just don’t realize it yet. For those who are interested in becoming an advocate for the MI industry, here are a few tips to help you get started.

1 Show Up. I did not realize it at the time, but looking back, one of the first steps I took toward advocacy was joining a local arts alliance that was organized by our district Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) director. It was a group of like-minded individuals coming together with the common purpose of keeping the arts alive in our community. I met and networked with many people through the alliance, and it put me in direct contact with some very influential individuals within my school district. Shortly after this, I was invited to join the board of directors for a non-profit arts organization. It seemed like a logical thing to do; after all, music and arts go hand in hand, right? At the time, I did not consider myself to be an advocate. I was simply representing the business within our community.

2 Be Informed. This is important. You can’t share information about a topic unless you are knowledgeable about it. Subscribe to arts/music newsletters and blogs within your own community and state. I subscribe to the California Alliance for the Arts, Education Commission of the States, Americans for the Arts and the NAMM Foundation. The emails are usually a quick read, so I don’t have to set aside a lot of time for them. Additionally, check out websites for local, state, and national music and arts organizations. National Association for Music Education (nafme.org) is an excellent resource, and it has an abundance of information on the importance of music and arts education. You can also follow its social media pages for quick reference and up-to-date news. Listen to podcasts, like “Talking up Music Education,” while you are driving or commuting. Again, this doesn’t take extra time out of your day; you are simply repurposing the time you already spend traveling. Find a podcast you like and download some episodes to listen to. Be cognizant of what is going on within your local community. Talk to educators, administrators and parents. Finally, reach out to other advocates in the industry and ask questions. We are always happy to have a discussion!

3 Spread the Word. Advocacy can be as simple as sharing information on your social media page, inviting friends to “like” a page to help create awareness, sending an email to an influencer within your district, attending a community alliance meeting, or being a resource and connecting people. These are all simple things you can do that do not take a lot of time but are integral parts of being an advocate. As a business in your community, you bring more value than you realize. You have access to students, educators, school administrators, principals, superintendents, other music and arts organizations, and the general public. Use your clientele as your resource and be a resource to your clientele. Whether it is sharing the benefits of music education with a parent of an incoming band student, rallying your customers to attend a school board meeting about the importance of the school music program in your district, or contacting educators/boosters to alert them of grants or funding available to them, use your business as a platform to speak up!

4 Get Involved. Attending the annual NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In fully submerged me (continued on page 60) 42

JULY 2019

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer July 2019, Vol 36 No 7  

In July’s Summer NAMM issue, we take an in-depth look at the NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In, make the long trip to Italy to visit Proe...

Music & Sound Retailer July 2019, Vol 36 No 7  

In July’s Summer NAMM issue, we take an in-depth look at the NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In, make the long trip to Italy to visit Proe...