music education advocacy

Eddie Van Halen on the importance of music education


CNN interviewed rock star Eddie Van Halen recently, about his work with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a group that helps get instruments to economically-disadvantaged young people. In 2012, Eddie Van Halen donated 75 guitars from his personal collection to students in low-income schools.

“Could you imagine a world without music? It’s a must,” the Van Halen legend told CNN in a new interview. “It has to be taught.”

“Our goal is to give kids every tool they can possibly have to succeed. Music is the common denominator,” foundation president and CEO Felice Mancini said. “You put a kid in a music class and it builds community, communication and they find a place. It’s a safe haven.”



Rolling Stone:



Better evidence needed about the value of arts in education

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Education policy-makers and schools are adopting an increasingly evidence-based approach to teaching and learning, and the cultural sector needs better evidence about the value of the arts in schools, says Holly Donagh, Partnerships Director at A New Direction, on the Arts Professional website .

Two respected reports, the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) 2016 report ‘Impact of arts education on the cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of school-aged children’ and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) report in 2013, ‘Art for Art’s Sake: The Impact of Arts Education’, both call into question the basic tenets of the existing arts in education research base.

The bottom line is that the evidence that exists is not rigorous enough to be trusted and what is left is not particularly compelling when put in the context of other interventions. This is the case not only for academic impacts but also for behavioural or non-cognitive impacts.

In order to change this perception, Holly Donagh, partnerships director at A New Direction, lists three areas that she believes the cultural sector should engage with when conducting arts in education research:

1) Mechanism: many of the studies considered in the EEF report look at the impact of the arts on non-arts outcomes (eg visual arts supporting maths achievement). This approach is debunked in the OECD report. To understand the true impact in education the sector needs to spend longer thinking about the mechanism by which the arts impact on different factors and in what timeframe, with what intervention (which might in turn be linked to attainment or non-cognitive outcomes).

2) Design: the EEF says most studies looking at arts impact are weak or poor in terms of research design. We need to be intentional in our interventions and work at scale and across long time spans.

3) Quality: defining academic and non-academic outcomes may have distracted us from defining quality in arts education, and how this might be distinctive from arts in other contexts.

Ms Donagh concludes that the sector must make as coherent, reliable and compelling a case for the arts as it can before schools walk away from offering rigorous arts education within curriculum time.

Arts Professional enews

Stop treating music in schools as background noise

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Too many schools and educators are still treating music as background noise, says the executive director of a US music charity. Many don’t realise that even in the smallest doses, the impact of music is vast.

In this Huffington Post blog, Lydia Kontos, the executive director of the non-profit organisation, Kaufman Music Center, argues that it is undeniable that growing up in a musically rich environment positively impacts learning.

That’s because practicing an instrument, understanding rhythm and notes or performing in an orchestra or band is more than simply making music – it’s helping to facilitate learning in other subjects and enhancing the skills all students use and need on a day-to-day basis.

She implores schools and educators across the USA to stop treating music as white noise, and suggests that they grasp the opportunity to change the tune for the next generation of thinkers, scientists, artists and leaders.

Huffington Post:
Kaufman Music Center:

Videos from the US to help parents and grandparents advocate for music education

This is a 5 minute promotional video from 2013 from the National Association of Music Parents – based in Indiana, USA. The aim of the Association is to mobilise parents and grandparents in the USA to unite with teachers and the music industry, to “turn up the volume” and be heard.

This 4 minute video – also posted by the National Association of Music Parents – contains useful facts, quotes and statistics that people can use when advocating music education. Please note that there’s no commentary with this video.

How parents and grandparents can support and champion music education

We’re all aware that music is good for children and music can keep people happy, healthy and mentally fit throughout their lives – and there’s evidence to back it up. But with threats to arts and music education funding in many countries, what can families do to support their young musicians?

Thanks to Luton Music Service, lead organisation in The Mix, Luton’s music education hub Link to

Thanks for the photo to Luton Music Service, lead organisation in The Mix, Luton’s music education hub

If you have a child or grandchild who’s involved in music, then you’ll already have experienced or heard about the impact of cuts to arts and music budgets in schools and in your local area. It’s frustrating, and at times may seem beyond your control: but parent (or grandparent) power can make a difference, and there are many ways that you can help.

Anita Holford and Dyfan Wyn Owen find out how the families of young musicians can make sure their children aren’t short-changed.


Broader minded music education campaign

Broaderminded Nafme campaignThe US-based National Association for Music Education (NAfME)’s award winning Broader Minded advocacy campaign was created to offer a compelling and thorough case for providing music education experiences to all.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Broader Minded home page to see quotes from teachers, students and from research, about how music helps young people with: improving cognition, decision making, reading, grit, higher grade point averages, multiple ways of knowing, creativity, higher attendance and graduation rates, collaboration, communication, spatial reasoning, closing the attainment gap, transcending socioeconomic levels, critical thinking, engagement, emotional awareness, processing sound, staying focused, reflective learning and process orientation.

National Association for Music Education (NAfME), is one of the world’s largest arts education organisations. It advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers.