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Congressman Bobby Scott (left) was honored with the SupportMusic Champion Award during NAMM’s Fly-In. Also pictured: (l-r) Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education; Mary Luehrsen, director of public affairs & government relations, NAMM; Joe Lamond, president & CEO, NAMM.

NAMM Fly-In Takes Music Advocacy To D.C.

Delegation calls for full implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act during three-day visit with Washington decisions-makers.


MORE THAN 100 music industry leaders, notable artists, and arts education activists descended on Washington D.C. for the annual NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In May 20-23. In meetings with members of Congress and other policy stakeholders, advocates took this opportunity to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education. Among its specific efforts this year, the delegation urged Congress to fund the Title IV program at its authorized level of $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2020 to ensure that the goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are realized for every child.

The advocacy visit began on Monday, May 20 with a Day of Service at Charles Hart Middle School in Congress Heights. Nearly 60 NAMM members worked one-on-one with elementary students on drums, guitars, and ukuleles, besides lending a hand on needed repairs and maintenance for the school’s musical instruments. In the evening, the delegation explored opportunities to advance music education at a special panel session featuring arts leaders, school administrators, and the Save the Music Foundation.

On Tuesday the delegates took part in advocacy training, where policy and arts leaders briefed them on the current political climate and issues facing public school music programs, including the Every Student Succeeds Act. Michael Yaffe, associate dean of the Yale School of Music, presented on issues surrounding equity in music education—as detailed in the Yale School of Music Declaration on Equity in Music for Students. The report examines the role of music making in the lives of students in America’s cities, both large and small.

That evening, the group joined The NAMM Foundation in honoring Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, with the SupportMusic Champion Award. Presented by former Secretary of Education Richard Riley and NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond, the award recognized Scott as an unwavering supporter of music and the arts and one of the primary authors of ESSA, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time in 13 years. Among his other efforts on behalf of children, Scott worked in 2017 on legislation to reform and update the nation’s career and technical education system, and in 2018 on legislation to reform the juvenile justice system, both of which were signed into law by President Donald Trump.

“I want to thank the National Association of Music Merchants for promoting music and arts education in public schools,” Scott said at the presentation. “We know that access to music and art programs can be a powerful tool for improving student engagement, attendance, and outcomes. We must continue the important work of ensuring that all students have access to high-quality arts and music programs that enrich their development and lead to better educational outcomes.”

On Wednesday, the delegation met with members of Congress and other elected officials to advocate for school-level music programs across the nation, emphasizing the benefits of music for brain function, focus, and language development. Among the featured topics was the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program and its support from the NAMM Foundation, which has provided more than $500,000 to expand music education in 70 schools through Turnaround Arts. A report by the two organizations exploring music instruction and curriculum at Turnaround Arts schools found that as schools invested in music education, access to quality music education increased from 27.8% to 75%. Music instruction for the average student increased from 17 minutes to 33 minutes per week, nearing the national average of 40 minutes per week. A summary of the report is available at: https://www.nammfoundation.org/articles/2019-05-20/quality-music-education-access-contributes-overall-improvements-school-climate

Later Wednesday evening, music and arts stakeholders joined the NAMM delegation and other guests to celebrate musician and former Major League Baseball player Bernie Williams, a member of four world champion Yankees teams and now a NAMM Foundation Board member. Williams has served as a Fly-In delegate for the past ten years, drawing on his own passion for music to promote a love of music making in children. Accepting an award to recognize his work, Williams reflected: “Twenty, thirty, forty years from now, there’s going to be a child in school that thinks to themselves, ‘somebody thought that it was important for me to learn music.’ I had an interview earlier today where I was asked about my [baseball] career, and I said that there’s not even a comparison—no amount of home runs in the world can compare with having the opportunity to have something to do with the education of our kids for years to come.”

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