Advocacy (Return to Music Resources)

By Dr. James Weaver and Team on April 20, 2021 Print

Thank you for clicking to learn more about advocacy when it comes to Return to Music Resources. We hope that you are finding all of the information helpful. 


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Advocacy for your Programs

Efforts to support the music program may take many forms. Some are internal like personal interactions with faculty and administrators. Every interaction is an advocacy opportunity, a chance to share the benefits the music program provides to students, showcase student highlights and achievements. Even in our COVID dominated world, music and the arts have been a place of comfort for humanity. The same is true for our students. Making these connections for decision-makers have beneficial effects on your program.

Additionally, there are strategies music parents, citizens and students can adopt to further look out for the health and safety of the music program.


The message is important… but so is the messenger! Music educators may not always be the most effective advocate. This is not because they are incapable… but to ensure educators are not put at odds with administrators.  Having parents and other citizens engaged in the process of supporting, and protecting, a music program can be the critical difference between success and failure. These are the supporters who, with proper guidance, can monitor school budgets, ask questions of administrators and school board members, organize other parents for meetings, letter campaigns, letters to the editor, and other public outreach strategies to help keep programs supported and funded. One of the first things they can do is...


It is hard to know what’s being planned if a supporter(s) representing music/arts aren’t there. And the school board can’t know how important music education is for students if they don’t hear and see people who care about it. Someone attending the meeting does not need to speak. The mere presence of supporter(s) in the room (in person or remotely) sends a powerful message! While there supporters should...


By having supporters attending the school board meeting they will be able to listen for any early indication of budget problems or other issues that may threaten the program. Have a supporter contact the business administrator for the district to request the school budget planning calendar. This will give supporters an idea of how and when decisions will be made. (Video Below)

Budget Assumptions - Pay special attention to see if the budget for next year is being based off of the budget for this year – which was nothing like a “normal” school year. You want to ensure that program adjustments due to COVID don’t become permanent. This includes program enrollment assumptions since many programs incurred a reduction in students this year because of the format of instruction. Advocates should argue for the use of the 2019/2020 budget and participation numbers for planning for the 2021/2022 school year. 

Scheduling - Advocating for the proper schedule to allow for the return of students is critical. This includes plans to start students who may not have started due to the instructional format and to bring back students who may have left for the same reason. 

Facilities/Resources/Transportation - Make sure facilities previously designated for music instruction are returned to proper use for music activities. Make sure budgets include funding for the supplies that may be needed (PPE) to ensure the safety of students. If there are plans that will require travel (contests, festivals, conference appearances) ensure funds have been established to support these transportation needs. 


It is important to have all of the advocates for the music program articulating the same message. When surveying music and arts educators this fall, the following were the top message points for program advocacy requiring additional support:

Program Safety - Information demonstrating how to promote the safety of programs for school administrators is critical. Translating the NFHS Aerosol study for school board members, school administrators and public health officials was at the top of the list.

Connection to Social Emotional Learning - Articulating the clear connection between music education and social emotional learning (SEL) was also a priority for music and arts educators.

Articulating Value - Highlighting the importance and value that music education provides students was also high on the list of message points.

At the end of the day, successful advocacy is all about relationships and messaging. Supportive parents should be developing relationships with school board members when they do not need anything. By cultivating strong personal relationships with school board members and administrators music advocates will have built up credibility when or if the need arises for support. Having the relationships will ensure there is a receptive audience when your message needs to be heard the most.



State and Local Advocacy Groups

Every state has a state music education association. Many have an arts education advocacy group. Connect with these organizations in your state for information and resources that will help support music education in communities.

Arts ARE Education Campaign

The Arts ARE Education. As states and schools work through multiple challenges in the years ahead, arts education must remain central to a well-rounded education and fully funded to support the well-being of all students and the entire school community.

The Arts Are Education campaign has been developed by the same groups that created the Arts Education is Essential campaign last year. The groups involved in the creation include the Nation Dance Education Organization, National Association for Music Education, National Art Education Association, Educational Theatre Association, Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Education Commission of the States with support provided by NAMM, Arts Ed NJ and Quadrant Research.

Resources include a personal pledge, sample school board resolutions, letters for state legislators and talking points which include:

Arts education programs continue to be funded.

Arts classes are offered across all areas and appropriately scheduled.

Curriculum and scheduling designed to address “learning loss” includes the arts.

Arts educators continue to be employed and teach in the discipline for which they were trained.

Resources that are critical to an arts program’s success should always be available.

Professional development for arts educators be appropriate and comparable to that of other subject area teachers.

Facilities built and furnished for arts-based activities be used for that purpose.

Arts educator evaluation be done in the larger context of professional development and mindful of the “new norms” of practice adopted under the pandemic era.

Learn more at:


Protect Arts Ed Now (Video Below)

New Jersey’s campaign to protect arts education and engage parents in the school budget process. With campaign tools and supporting materials making the case for making arts education programs safe, the link between social emotional learning and arts education, the value of arts education and how to monitor the school budget process available online or via a mobile app.

Learn more at:



COVID-19 Relief Funding Includes Support for Music Education

ESSER Worksheet

ESSER Funding Toolkit

CARES Act Funding Available to Schools/Districts Including Support for Arts Education:  

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. This new COVID relief bill extends or modifies several provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed in March 2020. 

Most districts will receive FOUR TIMES the amount of money than what they received in the first round last summer!

These funds may be used to support arts education!

The new relief bill authorizes $81.9 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund. The bulk of that funding falls under Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. For this document we will refer to this generically as CARES II Funding. CARES II will receive an additional $54 billion on top of the $13 billion that was allocated under CARES I last year. 

The total amount provided to each state, as well as the guidance document that each state Department of Education has provided to every district within your state on how these funds may be used, can be found on the National Conference of State Legislatures Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Tracker site. 

With additional help on the way, now is the time to plan with school administrators about how this funding can support music education. Reach out to your building principal to discuss the resources that are necessary to conduct music classes safely in-person. The principal will either have spending authority on the funds or will be able to help submit a request for music-related purchases at the district level.

Key Dates




(This information may be updated with the passage of CARES Act III, expected March 2021)

Be prepared to suggest some ways these funds may be used to support music education. There are fifteen (15) numbered categories of allowable use from the statute. Below are several ideas and the related category number for each.  

Instruments, Supplies and Materials to Help Ensure Health and Safety (3,5)

Individual instruments for each student to eliminate sharing 

Individual mouthpieces for each student 

Rental programs so that each student will have their own instrument 

Choral masks or other protective equipment

Instrument masks, bell covers or other protective equipment

Addressing the recommendations of the NFHS research studies

PPE, Cleaning Supplies and Sanitation (7)

Appropriate cleaning and sanitizing materials 

Sonic instrument cleaners 

Mouthpiece cleaner 

Supplies to sanitize and clean facilities 

Hand sanitizer 

Disinfectant wipes 

Disinfectant spray

Facility Considerations (13, 14, 15)

Appropriate airflow upgrades in music rooms (13,14)

Supplies and materials to make instructional environment meet recommended standards (tape, portable carts, tents for outdoor instruction, related materials) (15)

Equipment required to accommodate social distancing. (12)

Addressing the recommendations of the NFHS Research Studies (13, 15, 15)

Instructional Support

Tools and resources for distance education/learning (9)

Trainings in available online resources specifically designed for music educators to create virtual ensemble performances

Software programs to assist students with guided practice and self-assessment while learning how to play their instruments in a virtual learning environment

Supporting low-income students with resources to help them with online learning (4,9)

Instruments for every child

Instrument supplies such as reeds, rosin, trumpet grease, etc. 

Provide tutoring programs outside normal school hours to address student needs. (11)

Group instruction

Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English Learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and services delivery will meet the needs of each population. (4)

Development of a peer coaching  program

Establishment of partnerships  with local Latin Chambers of Commerce, United Sound, etc. 

Provide internet access for students struggling to learn remotely (9)

Provide additional staffing to expand beginner programs to reach students who were unable to participate in arts instruction during the 20/21 school year. 

Offer career and technical education services to prepare all students for postsecondary education and the workforce (e.g., virtual job-shadowing, resume writing, interview skills, etc.).

Provide extra supports aligned to the district’s regular education program, which may include services to assist preschool children in the transition from early childhood education programs to elementary school programs (also, the transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school).

Provide basic instruction on trouble-shooting and the maintenance of technology, connectivity, file-sharing, remote tech support, etc.

Summer Programs

Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English Learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. (11,12)

Enrichment activities including those relating to music-making (guitar, keyboard, mariachi, music technology, ukulele, melodica, drum circles, steel drum band, etc.)

Delivery of  services during extended school year programs and/or summer enrichment programs for all students. (11)

Band camps

Parks and Rec programs

Big  Brother, Big Sister programs

School district summer enrichment programs

Deliver extension activities outside normal school hours to support a successful return to school. (11)

Introduction to band, choir, orchestra induction programs prior to the opening  of school


Create CTE summer bridge program for students who are transitioning from Middle School to High School. (11)


Developing and implementing plans for the next school year (1,2,5,8) 

Professional development time/compensation for group planning

Professional development time/compensation for curriculum expansion to accommodate the needs of the coming year

Training for music educators on strategies to conduct in-person music instruction safely (ref. NFHS/NAfME Reopening Guidance)


Links, Articles, Resources, Handouts and Videos

Important Links

American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund


CARES (ESSER) II Allocations, a list of funding available to each state

Additional information about CARES (ESSER I and II) funding from the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education& Secondary Education 

Information about education funding in the new Covid-19 relief package from National Association for Music Education (NAfME)

Check out this dashboard ( of ESSER funding that has been allocated and spent by each state and territory.

Need help getting CARES or CRRSA questions answered? Email:

They will respond within 48 hours.



Get CARES Act Funding for Your Program

Access Title IV-A Funds and Build a Stronger Music Program

6 Steps to Get Funds that Support ESSA’s “Well-Rounded Education”

Funding Resource Roundup


Resources and Handouts

What is Title IV-A

NAfME’s Title IV-A Toolkit & FAQ

Performing a Needs Assessment: Determining the Standard for Your Music Program

Title IV-A Success Stories 

This is Title IV-A Infographic

Title IV-A Overview and Funding History 

ESSA and Arts Education – 7 Basics to Know

Everything ESSA

What Parents Need to Know About ESSA

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund



How to Advocate for Performing Arts Programs in your School District: Protect Arts Ed Now

How to Monitor the School Budget Process

Learn more about federal funding resources by watching these brief, informational mini-webinars

Title IV, Part A Block Grant (Annual Funding)

2020 CARES & 2021 CRRSA Acts



Communication with Administration Regarding School Music Programs w/Charles Menghini