MIOSM and Advocacy
Here’s how to gain support from government officials and the media.
Persuade your state legislature to endorse the observance of Music In Our Schools Month by passing a resolution. The steps below will help you draft your resolution, gain support, and expedite passage. Keep in mind that timing, contacts, and perseverance are of critical importance!
- Identify influential and approachable legislators. Develop a relationship for an honest exchange of ideas about topics of concern.
- Invite legislators to speak at a gathering of music advocates.
- Introduce yourself to the legislators’ administrative assistants and researchers. Some will prove to be strong supporters who know the ins and outs of state government. Find out what support and help they are willing to provide.
- Brainstorm with committee members to write your proclamation. Devise a plan to gain public support.
- Make a presentation of your goals and objectives to the legislative committees involved:
- Cultural Affairs
- Present your resolution to the person you believe will be most helpful in “shepherding” the project along. This may be a legislator or an assistant.
- Be open to re-wording your resolution, if necessary, as long as the outcome is still valuable.
- Follow the progress of your resolution as it moves through committees. Organize letters and phone trees that can be activated should obstacles look imminent and a show of public support become necessary.
Sample Proclamation for Government Officials
|WHEREAS,||the study of music is basic to the complete education, provides a competitive edge for successful educational reform, engages students in individual and group activity, develops creativity, problem-solving, and critical and evaluative skills; and|
|WHEREAS,||music education helps students acquire skills in production and performance of music, as well as an understanding of history and culture; and|
|WHEREAS,||the [STATE] Music Educators Association is concerned with maintaining and improving school music programs for all students regardless of their socio-economic status or their abilities; therefore|
|BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,||that the legislature recognizes and commends the [STATE] Music Educators Association for their concern for and efforts to enhance the quality of music education in [STATE] schools;|
|THEREFORE,||the legislature hereby proclaims the month of March, [YEAR], Music In Our Schools Month, and endorses the observance of Music In Our Schools Month as an opportunity to support the purposes and practices of music education and encourages teachers, students, and all citizens to participate.|
Sample Resolution for Local School Boards
|WHEREAS,||the study of music contributes to young people’s development through heightened skills in listening, reading, self-expression, and creativity; and|
|WHEREAS,||music education in the schools includes a broad range of types of music and active musical experiences; and|
|WHEREAS,||music and the other arts significantly enhance the morale and quality of the school environment; and|
|WHEREAS,||it is the stated objective of the pubic school to prepare children for a productive role in our society; and|
|WHEREAS,||the National Association for Music Education has designated March as Music In Our Schools Month, focusing on the theme [THE ME]; now,|
|THEREFORE,||be it resolved, that the Board of Education of _______________ endorses the observance of Music In Our Schools Month as an opportunity to support the purposes and practices of music education and encourages teachers, parents, students, and all citizens to participate.|
|The Board of Education of the _______________ school district, for its own part, rededicates itself to the maintenance of a music education program that will be relevant to the needs of the children placed in its care and will reach and positively influence each child.|
There are two basic types of news organizations: print media and electronic media. Print media include newspapers, wire services, magazines, newsletters, and community or service organization bulletins. Electronic media include radio, television, and the internet.
It is important to translate your story into language that will appeal to editors and, through them, to the public. Write the story as you would like to hear it or see it appear. Listen to a broadcast, and read newspapers carefully for guidance.
To be newsworthy, a story must have an element that is new, surprising, creative, significant, or of special local interest. The media also respond to salient quotes, especially from local people – your state president, state MIOSM chairperson, teachers, or students.
The best news stories are those that are built around an event, preferably featuring local people or local organizations. A news story must give dates and specific people, places, and actions. Include your phone number so that local editors can confirm the story.
What Makes News?
There are many effective and legitimate ways to make news. One basic technique is to tie your events in with another news event or public person. Here are a few suggestions:
- Conduct a poll or survey.
- Issue a report on the status of music in our schools.
- Present an honorary award to a local government official.
- Hold a contest – essay, poster, composition, etc.
- Stage a special event – a parade, open house, instrument display, etc.
- Organize a tour of your school music department.
- Play a free concert.
- Conduct a workshop on music education.
- Arrange for a speaker at a community function.
- Set aside a “Music Career Day” or “Music Career Week” during the month.
In working with the media, remember that every editor, reporter, and producer is a professional whose primary task is to present important and interesting information to the public. Your material should be relevant, timely, and interesting. Prove that you are a reliable source of information for your organization. If a member of your group has a personal contact with the media, use it!
Working with Reporters
- Always be honest. Sometimes it’s easy to respond to a question with a half-truth, but that could hurt your credibility for years to come. In the long run, you will get more positive coverage if you build an honest relationship with reporters –- even if that means a negative story now and then.
- Prepare a list of story ideas from your school: you might brainstorm with your staff and students for story ideas and then suggest them to a reporter. A good focus is instructional activities. Do you have a new project, one that uses unusual instruments, involves the community, or adopts a new approach to teaching a traditional subject?
- Don’t be afraid to be interviewed. Education can be complicated to people not involved in it every day, so take the necessary time to explain the situation to the reporter clearly and accurately. A professional reporter will not knowingly misquote anyone.
- Respect reporters’ needs. Deadlines are inflexible for the media. You don’t have to drop what you are doing, but try to be available to reporters when they need information.
- If you have a journalism program, advanced-level students could prepare releases on MIOSM events.
- Don’t forget radio. It can be an effective medium for disseminating news of MIOSM events.
- Brief reporters on the monthly timetable of activities well in advance. This will enable them to be present for the most important part of the event. Because reporters are so busy, do not expect them to stay for the entire event.
- Don’t be disappointed if all your ideas are not used. Remember, you are competing with many other institutions and individuals.
- If there is a mistake in a story, don’t phone the reporter’s boss. A phone call to the reporter to ensure that the mistake won’t happen again is more appropriate.
- Write a short note thanking the appropriate individuals after the coverage of your events.
When mailing your releases, remember to notify all available media. Find out what the editors of these publications are printing and their deadlines:
- Area high school and college publications
- Chamber of Commerce publications
- Civic club publications
- Women’s club publications
- Church and synagogue publications
- Fraternal organization publications
- Municipal and state publications
- Educational publications
- Monthly papers
- Business publications
- Suburban advertisements and shopping guides
- Retirement home publications
- Ask business people to donate a previously purchased billboard to promote music education.
- Ask a billboard company to donate an unused billboard for display.
- Use NAfME posters or banner in:a) Bank lobbiesb) Hotel lobbiesc) Restaurantsd) Store windows and bulletin boards.
f) Community centers
g) Local YMCAs and YWCAs
This section contains information designed to help you organize and launch a strong newspaper publicity program during the observance of MIOSM. All MIOSM projects and activities should receive mention, however brief, in local newspapers. This press coverage should begin with an announcement of the appointment of the MIOSM chairperson and continue with a series of news releases describing various events. See examples at the end of this section.
Guidelines for Writing a News Release
- Type the release, double-spaced, with one-inch margins on one side of 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
- In the top left-hand corner, type “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.”
- In the top right-hand corner, list the name, title, address, and telephone number(s) of the contact person.
- Center the headline above the body of the release. Keep the headline short and concise.
- Begin the main body of the release with a dateline (city of origin and date) in all capital letters.
- Include who, what, when, where, and why in the first paragraph. Use short paragraphs.
- Limit the release to one page if possible. If not, type “MORE” at the bottom of the first page. On page two in the upper left-hand corner, type a short derivative of the main title in all capital letters.
- End the release by typing ### or -30- in the center of the bottom of the last page.
- Attach a personal note on the release to grab the reader’s attention.
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor offer a ready vehicle for discussing the value of music education in the school curriculum. Summon all your persuasive powers, but express your views succinctly – one typed page is usually enough. Sign your letter, including address and telephone number. This information will not be published but may be used for verification by the editor. It may seem obvious, but remember to address your letter to “Letters to the Editor.” You will find a sample letter to the editor at the end of this section.
Most papers have an activities calendar. Many people in your community use it as a quick reference for things to do. Find out deadlines and the person in charge of the calendar so you can gain the widest publicity for MIOSM and related events.
Photographs generally fall into two classes: news photos and features photos. News pictures may tell a story themselves or supplement newspaper stories about events, individuals, or activities such as concerts, parades, and workshops. Newspapers like to receive pictures with news stories.
In submitting photos, remember:
- Most newspapers prefer 5″ x 7″ black-and-white, glossy photos with borders.
- Color photos and Polaroid shots are not acceptable.
- Pictures should be in sharp focus with good contrast between black and white.
- A single point of interest is essential. Eliminate unnecessary details.
- Captions should clearly explain picture content. Tell who is doing what, when, and where. Be sure to mention MIOSM and your school’s name. Tape to the back of the picture, so that it falls just below the photo for easy reading. Do not write on the back of the picture; this may damage it.
- Both vertical and horizontal shots should be submitted. The variety will produce a more attractive layout.
- A piece of cardboard needs to be included with each photo for protection. If the photo becomes bent, creased, or marred, it will not be usable. Write “PHOTO ENCLOSED – DO NOT BEND” on the outside of the envelope.
- Negatives ought to be saved since photos are rarely returned.
Newspapers frequently use fillers: short items or quotes conveying facts of an unusual, historical, or humorous nature. Fillers are so-called because newspaper editors use them to fill out blank space at the end of a column of type – space too large to leave empty but too small to accommodate a regular story. Following are filler quotes that could be sent to local newspapers for possible use. This would also be a good enclosure with an introductory letter to a reporter or editor.
- Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it. – Aristotle, Politics
- Music is the universal language of mankind. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Music must be supported by the king and the princes, for the maintenance of the arts is their duty no less than the maintenance of the laws. – Martin Luther, Table Talk (published 1566)
- No matter what type or style, we believe that music enriches the lives of all of us…Music education deserves the support of everyone – it’s that simple. – The Canadian Brass
- The arts are essential elements of education just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…Music, dance, painting, and theatre are keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment. Children should be handed these keys at an early stage. – William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education, First Lesson
- Music, to me, was – is – representative of everything I like most in life. It’s beautiful and fun, but very rigorous. If you wanted to be good you had to work like crazy. It was a real relationship between effort and reward. My musical life experiences were just as important to me, in terms of forming my development, as my political experiences or my academic life. – President Bill Clinton
- The purpose of education is not to create biological computers but to develop well-rounded, humane citizens with the skills to lead healthy, happy, productive and fulfilling lives. Toward this end, every student at every level should have access to a balanced, sequential, high-quality program of music instruction in the school. – The College Board Academic Preparation for College
Sample Introductory Letter to News Media
|NameEditor or News DirectorName of Newspaper, Radio or TV StationAddressDear Mr./Mrs.I am writing to you as Chairman of Music In Our School Month (MIOSM) committee. March marks the annual celebration of music in our nation’s schools. First held in 1973 as a Music In Our Schools Day, this celebration has grown to a Music In Our Schools Month. National Association for Music Education, the more than 100-year-old sponsoring organization, has announced that this year’s MIOSM theme is [THE ME].
Since 1838, when music was first authorized as a regular subject of instruction, decision makers have agreed on the importance of music education. In 1994, the National Standards for Arts Education were accepted by Secretary of Education Richard Riley. The release of the arts education standards reaffirms the arts as being essential to the education of every child. As they are implemented, the standards will provide greater access to higher quality arts education for all American children.
In 2002, the arts, including music, were deemed a “core academic subject” along with math, science and English in federal education policy.
Recent studies show that students who participate in the arts out-perform their non-arts peers on the SAT. In addition, participation in music education increases children’s creativity, self-discipline, critical thinking, and self-esteem. New research indicates that music may be the nutrient that can enhance the development of abstract thinking skills. The study of music and the other arts also provides students with a sense of their cultural heritage.
School districts throughout our state are planning events to highlight their music education programs. Detailed information will be sent to you by local chairpersons. Your support of music education programs and cooperation in publicizing these events will be greatly appreciated.
Please contact me anytime I can be of assistance. I look forward to working with you.
|SincerelyName, ChairpersonMIOSM Committee|
Sample News Release Announcing MIOSM Theme
|For Immediate Release [Date]||Contact: Name, ChairpersonMusic In Our Schools MonthAddressPhone Number|
|[THE ME!]March [year] marks the [number] annual celebration of music in our nation’s schools. National Association for Music Education, the more than 100-year-old sponsoring organization, has announced [THE ME] as the theme for Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) [YEAR].Music was first authorized as a regular subject of instruction in 1838. In 1994, the National Standards for Arts Education were accepted by Secretary of Education Richard Riley, reaffirming the arts as being an essential part of education.In 2002, the arts, including music, were deemed a “core academic subject” along with math, science and English in federal education policy.
[Chairperson’s name], member of the [State association], is coordinating efforts for the MIOSM celebration in [School district name]. [Include quote by Chairperson about MIOSM]. Some of the planned events are [list of proposed activities with dates, times, locations, and contact person’s name and phone number.]
Sample News Release Announcing MIOSM Event
A career conference for local high school students interested in professional pursuits in the fields of music and music education will be held at [place] on [date] from [time]. Initial responses indicate a good turnout, reports [name], chairperson for the event.
Students will have the opportunity to attend [number] presentations by music professionals who will offer information on required educational preparation as well as career opportunities for the future. Presenters scheduled include [name], [member of a professional symphony orchestra], [name], [music education professor at a local college], [name], [public school music supervisor], [name], [concert pianist], [etc.]. A question and answer period will follow each session.
This conference is just one of the events planned as part of Music In Our Schools Month, [year]. This national celebration, held each March, is sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, a more than 75,000-member professional association, to focus attention on public school music education programs.
Pre-registration for the conference is suggested. To register or for additional information on the conference, contact [name], at [phone number].
Sample Letter to the Editor
|NameEditor or News DirectorName of Newspaper, Radio or TV StationAddressDear Mr./Mrs.National Association for Music Education, with more than 75,000 members, has announced that the theme for the March [YEAR] Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) national celebration is [THE ME].
Music has been an authorized subject of instruction since 1838. In March 1994, the National Standards for Arts Education, which explain what every young American should know and be able to do in the arts, were released. The acceptance of the arts education standards reaffirms the arts as being essential to the education of every child. As they are implemented, the standards will provide greater access to higher quality arts education for all American children.
In 2002, the arts, including music, were deemed a “core academic subject” along with math, science and English in federal education policy.
Music teachers throughout [name] school district will celebrate this [year] national observance of music in our nation’s schools with free concerts, demonstrations, and open houses. All citizens are encouraged to call their neighborhood schools for a detailed calendar of MIOSM events. It is hoped everyone will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to hear what is happening in school music programs and lend their support by attending these events!
Radio and television provide the major avenues to disseminate information in the United States, reaching millions of people daily. Local radio and television stations can help you publicize MIOSM events and gather support for music education programs. Many of the points in “Working with Media” and “Newspapers” also apply when working with radio and television personnel. Personal contacts are still key.
Radio stations and cable television outlets schedule a large amount of air-time for public service programming. In order to successfully compete with all the other organizations seeking free broadcast time, your presentation to station personnel must convince them that their listening audience is most interested in your message.
Call the station to find out who schedules the public service programming. If possible talk directly with this person to ascertain station guidelines and program availability. If unable to do this, introduce yourself and your objectives in a letter. After the initial contact has been made, set up an appointment with the proper personnel to discuss specific program possibilities. As you proceed, be sure you:
- Contact all radio and television stations in your area. Don’t omit any because you personally may not be a regular listener or viewer. Media lists are available from the local Chamber of Commerce, public relations and advertising firms, and charitable organizations such as United Way. If you wish to compile your own list, consult Working Press of the Nation or Bacon’s Publicity Checker at your local library, or try Radio-Locator.
- Send press releases to news directors for inclusion in their broadcasts. Mention in your cover letter that you would be happy to schedule a member to appear on the news (for time sensitive issues) or as a guest on another program.
- Keep an open mind when dealing with radio and television personnel. You are seeking free airtime. Welcome their suggestions as long as your objectives are not lost!
- Many topics for programs concerning music education exist. In addition to publicizing MIOSM events, use March to highlight the status of music education programs in your area. State and local officials can discuss the implementation of the voluntary standards for the arts. Plan programs that will arouse interest and increase community support for music education.
Numerous program formats are available to present your information. Depending on the issue, you may want to consider:
- …the panel discussion. Member who speak well can discuss current music education issues. Be sure you engage a skillful moderator who can handle a lively, informative discussion.
- …the interview. Ask the station to interview one of your members for a news segment. The topic might be an upcoming MIOSM event, support needed at budget hearings to ensure funding for music programs, or implementation of the National Standards. (A radio station may be willing to do a telephone interview.)
- …the talk show or listener call-in. Knowledgeable members can address viewers’ concerns “on the spot.” This is a great way to clear up any myths or misunderstandings.
- …the editorial. Ask the station if one of your members can present your groups’ point of view on community programs, projects, or curriculum issues as a commentary.
- …personality spots. Local dignitaries may be willing to record on-the-air announcements to show their support for local music education issues or to highlight MIOSM events. Information is available from NAfME on how your local station can secure copies of PSAs by well-known celebrities. Find out how your local stations can air these professionally produced messages.
- …films or videotapes. Check resource catalogs. Compile a list of available titles for broadcasters. Ask that they be aired during MIOSM.
Public Service Announcements
Both radio and television stations air public service announcements (PSAs) to fulfill their responsibility to communities. Most stations will gladly broadcast the professionally produced PSAs supporting music education. If you want PSAs of local interest, write to your local station, explaining the local benefits you hope to achieve through your campaign. Many stations will produce PSAs for you if you provide a draft of the script. (Listen to examples of NAfME’s “Why Music?” radio PSA series.)
Tips for Writing PSAs:
- Write for your allotted time. Generally speaking, 20 words fills 10 seconds, 40 words fills 20 seconds, and 125 words fills 60 seconds on television. Since there are no visuals on radio, plan on 25 words for 10 seconds, 50 words for 20 seconds, and 150 words for 60 seconds.
- Use musical backgrounds where possible. Lead into your announcement with music and fade down as you begin your comments or begin with your message and gradually increase the music to full volume at its conclusion.
- Use highly descriptive words when writing for radio. This helps the audience visualize your ideas.
- Provide photos, slides, films, or videotapes to accompany a copy for television PSAs. Identify and indicate order of more than one is submitted. For live or taped appearances, rely on television personnel for technical advice on dress and makeup. When on the air, follow their directions explicitly.
Sample Public Service Announcements
National Association for Music Education invites you to hear what’s happening in music classes in your community during March, Music In Our Schools Month.
March is Music In Our Schools Month. National Association for Music Education invites you to get involved in your local school music programs. Take time to hear what’s happening in today’s music classes!
Participation in music classes provides lifelong benefits. Through singing, playing instruments, and composing, students learn to express themselves creatively. Studying music provides a deeper understanding of historical and cultural heritages. March is Music In Our Schools Month. National Association for Music Education hopes you will take time to hear what’s happening in the school music programs in your community!
Sample Public Service Announcement for Radio
|Start: March 1End: March 31||Contact: Name, PositionAffiliationAddress|
|MUSIC IN OUR SCHOOLS MONTHTime: 40 secondsWords: 81Music in backgroundAnnouncer: Young people in music education classes are singing, playing musical instruments, and listening to music. This helps them to develop their creativity, to learn self-discipline and teamwork, to increase their sense of self-worth, and to learn to live in a global society. Studying music provides benefits for a lifetime. Join in the national celebration of Music In Our Schools Month by attending the many events planned throughout the [name] school district. Call 555-6789 to obtain a complete calendar of events.|
Sample Public Service Announcement for Television
|Time: 30 secondsWords: 54Music lead in, fade down|
|Side #1[SCHOOL CHORAL GROUP]||Young people in music education classes are singing, playing musical instruments, and|
|Side #2[SCHOOL BAND]||listening to music. Music enriches their lives and provides skills for a lifetime. March is Music In Our Schools Month. Join in the celebration. Hear what’s happening in your local school music program.|
|Side #3[555-6789 WITH MIOSM LOGO]||Call 555-6789 for a complete calendar of musical events.|
Sample News Release for Radio and Television
|For Release [date]||Contact: NameSchoolAddressPhone number|
|LOCAL STUDENT WINS SCHOLARSHIP[Name] of _______________ school has won the $500 first-prize award for summer music study in the annual Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) essay contest. The [School District]sponsors the competition as part of the local observance of the nation’s celebration of MIOSM.[His/her] composition was judged best among more than [number] entries. The subject of the essay was [THE ME], this year’s MIOSM’s theme.[Name] resides in [town]. He/she is a [age]-year-old [grade] student at [school]. Runners-up were [Name], [age] of [town], and [Name], [age] of [town]. Each received a $200 scholarship.Results of the judging were announced at an awards dinner last night by [Name], local chairperson of the MIOSM celebration.
Sample Letter for Radio and Television
Send one letter to each of the following.
Dear General Manager, Program Manager and Education Service Director:
The music students of [school] recently created a video of themselves performing [song]. Our performance will be featured in the World’s Largest Concert, an annual sing-along program sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, on March 13. NAfME is a more than 100-year-old organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of music education.
During the month of March, music programs become the focus of schools and communities around the nation. I’m asking for your help in spreading the word about our school program and the terrific students who participate in it. Please consider airing our video and producing a story about how music education benefits children.
Members of our community are invited to sing along with the World’s Largest Concert at our school. Please help us get the word out to the community.
Thank you for you assistance in promoting music education during March, Music In Our Schools Month.
(Name of Music Teacher, Parent, Principal, etc.)
Community organizations are always looking for speakers who can provide an interesting and informative program. Compile a list of local organizations. (Your Chamber of Commerce should have a list you can use as a starting point.) Contact each organization, explaining your objective and offering to supply a speaker for a future meeting, especially in February or March.
To Set Up a Speaker Bureau
- Recruit members who speak well, are well received and know the subject.
- Compile a list of topics and speakers.
- Send the list with a personal cover letter to presidents and program chairs.
- Follow-up promptly to all response. Confirm arrangements concerning meeting time and place.
- Send announcements of the event to local media.
- Research your topic. Decide on the angle for your speech. Regardless of the group or specific topic, emphasize the lifelong benefits of participating in music study.
- Individualize each presentation to suit the audience, taking into consideration age, interests, education levels, and degree of familiarity with your topic.
- Know how much time you are expected to fill. In most instances this will be five to ten minutes.
- Write your speech in a conversational tone. Avoid complex words and ideas. Don’t make it difficult for the audience to follow your reasoning.
- Prepare note-cards or triple spaced type written notes. Practice the speech by using a tape recorder or in front of family and friends. Know the speech well enough so you don’t read it.
- Allow time for a question and answer period. Always repeat the question to ensure that everyone heard it. Answer questions briefly, specifically, and directly.
- Write a short note to show your appreciation for the opportunity to speak.