Program Health

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.
At O'Fallon (Illinois) Township High School, when school ends, music can still be heard drifting through the halls as high school musicians guide middle schoolers in after-school private lessons. The program is just one of many opportunities created by Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds — known as Dr. G — to connect band students of all ages together.
A school's music program can be a catalyst for uniting the community with ensembles serving as ambassadors not only around campus but also around town. To achieve this kind of success, support is required on all fronts.  
The halls of Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, are buzzing with excitement and anticipation for the summer. It's not the typical end-of-the-school-year eagerness that has these teenagers bouncing in their seats; it's a 16-day tour of Europe, featuring the McQueen High School Orchestra.
As the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) becomes more familiar to educators, administrators and the general public, district officials must consider how the new law will impact their schools' strategies to provide all children with a "well-rounded" education.

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