EducationWatch: MENC Campaigns For Music Education

Organization launches music education advocacy campaign
Laurel Fishman

MENC: The National Association for Music Education has launched a national advocacy campaign spotlighting the importance of music education, 3 Ways You Can Change Music Education. The campaign includes a section to sign the Petition for Equal Access to Music Education with instructions on how to gather signatures in person and circulate the online petition to like-minded contacts. There also are suggestions on how to raise funds to support local music programs and information on how to make donations through MENC. In connection with the campaign, MENC offers some hooky slogans to use to solicit pocket change to meet a $100,000 fund-raising goal: "Change For Change," "Spare Change To Spare Music Education," "Your Pocket Change Is Music To Our Ears," and "It Makes Cents To Support Music Education."

In related news, MENC has been collaborating with Nintendo to introduce schools nationwide to the Wii Music program, engendering interest among music teachers and young students to get involved in active music making. In addition to providing Wii Music consoles and software to schools in 51 U.S. cities, Nintendo has showcased the affordable software to music teachers including presentations at MENC's recent Eastern Conference in Providence, R.I., and MENC's North Central Division Conference in Indianapolis. At the conferences, attendees experienced a live interactive demo of Wii Music's instruments, music tutorials and wireless jam sessions. Wii Music can be utilized by all ages to create and enjoy music while learning about rhythm, tempo and song structure, and users can experiment with more than 60 different musical instruments and use the wireless Wii remote controller to strum, drum, pluck, and jam to more than 50 songs in multiple musical genres. MENC has also worked with Nintendo to offer a free lesson plan for music educators.

At New York City's 92nd Street Y, Bash The Trash musicians/educators John Bertles, Skip LaPlante and Carina Piaggio recently completed their third year of interactive, family-friendly programs for children ages 3-6. Bash The Trash is dedicated to raising environmental awareness through art and creating interdisciplinary connections to science, literacy, social studies, and math via music. Through its programs, the group has invented more than 200 different kinds of instruments from recycled and reused materials and is now expanding to offer programs across the United States. Recent concert performances have focused on folk tales from Russia, Africa and the Middle East, and audience members have participated in building their own musical instruments and joining the group and special musical guests onstage to dance, move and perform. In Canton, Ohio, in mid-March, Bash The Trash performed with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and debuted new concerti "Diet Of Worms Vs. The Board Of Health" and "Incline And Passacaglia."

Music Smarts — The Inside Truth And Road-Tested Wisdom From The Brightest Minds In The Music Business, written by Mr. Bonzai, is an illustrated handbook of practical advice, observations and words of inspiration from top artists, producers, technicians, and business executives in the music industry. Edited by Mix magazine cofounder David Schwartz, the book is drawn from 25 years of interviews conducted by Mr. Bonzai and contains valuable information for music students, fans and professionals. Among those sharing their insights in the book are producers David Foster, George Martin and Phil Ramone and artists k.d. lang, Tom Petty, Carlos Santana, and Brian Wilson.

Members of the children's music community convened in Los Angeles during GRAMMY Week for a meeting following the GRAMMY Museum's kickoff concert of its Musical Explorations family program series featuring GRAMMY Award nominees Buck Howdy and Brady Rymer And The Little Band That Could, as well as previous GRAMMY winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Meeting participants discussed ways to work together to boost recognition of children's music by the media, public and within the music industry. More than 30 artists, managers, media, marketing, and publicity professionals addressed ways for individual children's music artists to become active in their local Recording Academy Chapters and the possibility of creating future Academy events such as kids' concerts in specific cities. Other meeting topics covered digital distribution, social networking sites for expanding fan bases, touring, and developing avenues where children's music artists can pool their resources.

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for and GRAMMY magazine, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy, and music-and-the-brain research.)

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