Program Health

In May 2018, I had the privilege of attending the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Music Education Advocacy Fly-in in Washington, D.C. The goal of this program is to train NAMM members about the policies and priorities of the current administration so when they meet with members of Congress, they can better advocate for the importance of music education.
In the blog post, Case Study: Celebrating Mariachi in Iowa, high school band director Ruben Newell and middle school director Patti Bekkerus from Denison (Iowa) Community Schools shared how they started a successful mariachi program. In addition to research, patience and understanding, they offer these three tips.
Every spring, Denison (Iowa) High School hosts a fiesta, including a taco truck, chips and salsa, and parents' homemade desserts. But the main attraction is the Denison High School Mariachi Band. 
When Daniel Berard walked into his job interview at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2004, he had a clear vision of how to start the band program from scratch. He pictured the program one, two, five and 10 years down the road and hoped the administration would buy into his plans.
One of the hallmarks of successful music educators is their desire to continually seek out ways to "build a better mousetrap." For example, they look for new rehearsal and conducting techniques, innovative ideas to reach others through advocacy and more effective strategies to enhance recruitment and retention for their school's music education programs. 
In my more than 30 years working in music education, I have observed a great deal of change. However, one constant is the overwhelming impact that music teachers have on the overall success of their students.
As educators, we can always glean new insights from the teaching practices in other countries. Japanese schools, for example, strive to take excellence in music education to a new level. They emphasize an early appreciation of music, with mandatory classes in elementary school and junior high. 
Janis Stockhouse's confidence was high on her first day as director of bands at Bloomington High School North in Indiana. Then her jazz students showed up. "They were tossing out vocabulary and words, and I was stumped," Stockhouse says. "It made me feel really bad that I couldn't teach them anything. I wanted to run home."
Ever notice the energy and excitement we all feel when we anticipate the arrival of a new calendar year? I enjoy those times! The opportunity to start fresh is exhilarating.
Wouldn't you like to find new ways to get parents more involved with their students' home practice and progress? Of course you do. We all do! According to the Harvard Family Research Project, parental engagement is universally associated with higher achievement on grades, test scores and teacher rating.

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