As a band director, you're likely more than aware of the frightening realities of tightening budgets. Even those outside the community know, as the stories are plastered all over headlines and in the theses of music industry think pieces. Most recently, statewide cuts in West Virginia led to the elimination of West Liberty University's marching band.
While in most cases, budget constraints result in less drastic, but still challenging, sacrifices, music programs remain at risk. This is why now, more than ever, it's important to develop a relationship with your school's administration to assert the importance of marching band. In a recent feature by Halftime magazine, Emily Moneymaker details how directors can do just that.
Appeal to the administrator's true needs
First, she writes, you must understand your administrators. They have to think about the well-being of the entire school, not just your music program. Often, administrators realize the value of a music program in a child's well-rounded education, but their focus is on the educator.
"[Administrators] are less concerned about the program and more concerned about how that particular teacher will fit into the existing environment," Wayne Bliss, a retired music education, told the magazine. "They want someone who will be a positive contribution to the climate of the school."
"Marching bands are typically known by their school name, bringing the institution further recognition."
Highlight the specific assets of a marching band
If your administration doesn't already see the benefits of marching band and music programs, presenting the right information should persuade them. It helps if you specifically highlight why marching band matters – an administrator might not see the benefit in having both a marching band and a concert band, for instance.
Marching bands, as Moneymaker points out, are often out performing at parades, competitions and games. These community events are helping the school by bringing in attention from wider audiences. Plus, marching bands are typically known by their school name, bringing the institution further recognition.
Present the numbers
Administrators speak in numbers – budgets, test scores, graduation rates, etc – and you can easily show them how marching band factors into these considerations. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has some great data to share for this purpose.
For instance, a 2015 study from the foundation showed that 77 percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents believe music and arts programs are either "extremely" or "very" important for children.
In an Infographic included in Moneymaker's article, different sources of data show that schools with music programs have a 90.2 percent graduation and 93.9 attendance rate, compared to 72.9 percent and 84.9 percent respectively. Music programs have also helped schools boost average SAT scores by 107 points.
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