Twenty Steps on How to Fight Music Cuts
Thanks to The Music Achievement Council, c/o NAMM, 5140 Avenidaa Encinas, Carlsbad CA 92008-4391
This article has been slightly edited for use.

When it comes to defending your music program, all it takes is a little basic salesmanship.

When it comes to defending your music program, all it takes is a little basic salesmanship. Well, a lot of basic salesmanship! One thorough and tested guide to organizing your sales effort is Twenty Steps, prepared by a veteran of the California battle, Ms. Barbara Reed of the Alhambra School District.
  1. Call your teachers together - you need to work as a unit.
  2. Contact the secondary level teachers if you are an elementary or junior high school teacher - their program will be affected too!
  3. Have each teacher call his/her parents informing them of the situation, inviting them to the Board of Education meeting to speak if they can. Parents are amazingly supportive - please don't be afraid to call. Applications for instrumental or choral students can serve as a reference.
  4. Call your local music merchants - beside being in the business, they do care and are able to contact many parents as well as have petitions signed.
  5. Meet with your local teachers' union - ask if they are supporting you. (They are supposed to defend all unit members.)
  6. Call the nearby district music coordinators to tell them what has happened. They will stand by you. Also - what has happened to you will affect them! Ask them to speak at the board meetings, if necessary.
  7. Contact past music teachers and music supervisors - they will write letters if they can't come to the Board meetings.
  8. Hint to your students that petitions should be circulated throughout the school. (Ask the high schools to do the same.)
  9. Ask some of your students to speak to the Board - they will make a lasting impression.
  10. Search for well-known musicians, who came up through the schools, who will address the Board.
  11. Call your local representatives and assembly- men - they care about what is going on. Have your husband or wife call them - the more people you have call, the better! Share the load!
  12. It is also a good idea to get the support of some of the members of the Board. Ask parents to circulate flyers at the different schools with information of upcoming Board meetings.
  13. (Editor's note: The information in this point may be out of date)
    Dr. John Benham, a well-known music education expert from Minnesota. His phone number is (612) 783-0902. He can prove that music can be very cost effective and that music teachers can lighten the load of the other teachers by taking large numbers of students for band, orchestra, and chorus. He is a member of a Board of Education and knows how they think!
  14. Organize a Task Force (A Dr. Benham idea):
    -A task Force is a temporary committee.
    -Its goal - research music and art programs and to make recommendations to the Board of Education.
    -The formula is as follows:
    • 1 Central Administrator
    • 1 High School Principal
    • 2 Elementary School Principals
    • 1 High School Instrumental Music Teacher
    • 1 High School Choral Teacher
    • 1 Elementary Instrumental Music Teacher
    • 1 Elementary Art Teacher
    • 1 Parent from each high school
    • 1 Parent from each elementary school
  15. Organize a phone tree. Ask your dependable parent reps to line up several parent helpers at each school to help phone parents, informing them of the upcoming Board meetings.
  16. Call the parents of your more advanced instrumental students - they can be of great value. (However, parents of your beginning students are fine, also.)
  17. Call parents of your choral people.
  18. Go to your PTA District Council Present the situation - ask for their support. Ask your PTA to sign a Resolution stating that your district PTA wants to keep music in the schools - make it look official.
  19. Go to your City Council
    • Tell them of your concerns - the school program loosing music, etc.
    • Mention that perhaps real estate values will go down - people will want to move where there is a more complete curriculum.
  20. Call The Media
    • Do this at the very beginning! Boards of Education do not like the negative exposure!
    • Call your local newspaper - they will send reporters to interview you.
    • Contact your local radio station - write a newsbrief for them.
    • A word of warning - never put anything in print that you can't prove! It is a temptation at this point to quote "hearsay."
  21. Organize a Council For The Fine Arts - Optional
    • It is a community-based group consisting of parents, citizens, musicians, music merchants, college professors, etc. that are not under the control of the Administration.
    • This is a permanent group that will further the arts in your community!
    • The council's purposes are:
      1. To defend the arts programs in the schools.
      2. To give music scholarships to deserving students.
      3. To sponsor music concerts and art fairs in the community.
      4. To collect membership dues and raise monies.

    And finally, you and your staff must be very visible! You or one of your staff should attend every Board meeting, ever teacher's union meeting, etc., that is held.
    Note: You have to be willing to sacrifice extra time if you want to see results. Time is required for phoning parents, making contacts (networking), planning meetings, speeches, and planning strategy. You must put emotions aside - personal likes and dislikes. You must let each teacher work in his/her own strength; some teachers hate to do phoning, so let them work in other capacities. Remember - once a program is cut, it is very hard to get it started again. You are working not just to save jobs, but save music for children and the community.

    These "20 steps" helped in the Alhambra School District in the 1990-1991 school year. They are offered as possible helps to your district.
    This paper was given by Ms. Barbara Reed at the CMEA State Convention in San Jose, CA