Perspectives on music education. Have a point of view? Let us know. You're amongst friends.
By: Tom Baggott
"Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world."
For nonprofits, Giving Tuesday is arguably the biggest 'holiday' of the year, and this year, I plan to ask my teenage daughters what they really care about and show them how they can make a difference with their generosity. I hope you will do the same, and think about a cause that is important to you and find an organization that supports that cause.
Of course, SpreadMusicNow would love to have your support—we count on it to continue our mission of funding programs that provide music education for underserved youth—but we do recognize there may be other causes that you feel passionate about. In fact, I have been asked by a couple of people why we are committing such energy and funding to music education when there are other issues that seem to them to be more pressing. In response l say although we recognize and care about other issues and causes that are certainly worthy of our time and energy, we believe the best way we can make a difference as an organization is by empowering youth with music education.
Music education imbues the student with confidence and enhances critical thinking and creativity, and these are great characteristics with which to more effectively support the causes one cares about. On the collective level, music is an incredibly powerful tool for creating awareness of and funding for these causes. When it comes to supporting causes, music empowers the one and the many, and music education often leads students to want to act to make the world a better place.
For a little insight on this topic, I refer back to an opinion piece by Ann Clark, the headmaster of Boston Arts Academy, that we carried in our September newsletter. Acknowledging that most of her students do not go on to pursue a career in music, she focuses on the empowerment aspect of music education and in so doing makes a powerful case for arts education as a tool for societal change. "Students respond to curricula that create authentic moments of agency and ownership," she says. "Young people want to feel like what they do matters, that their voices matter... [and] ... our true purpose, as our mission states, is for our students to be engaged members of a democratic society. We want our students, in short, to experience the power of their own voices." Clark drives her point home citing the experience of one of her former students, Taylor Correia-Podolske, who summarized her experience with music education: "What I learned from sharing what I love makes me want to make a difference. If you don't take action, then who will?"
By virtue of our efforts to have a positive impact on kids and communities, we are essentially activists. We act because we care deeply about our cause and those we serve. Many of our kids also have causes or issues they care deeply about and want to get involved in creating change. Acknowledging issues that our students care about and suggesting that they can use their art to stand for or against something is one of the ways we can support their growth and individuation. It can help them to see their creativity as relevant and meaningful in their lives beyond the classroom, providing yet another reason to continue their music studies. For those who teach music, this is a natural extension of the movement to push for more culturally responsive music education curricula.
Through our support for programs that provide music education, we empower those who wish to make a difference and provide them with the tools they need to act in support of a cause. In this way, contributing to SpreadMusicNow supports the organizations we fund, and can have a long-lasting residual impact on those other causes you care about. To that end, this Giving Tuesday we hope you will support us; you can do so by visiting spreadmusicnow.org/givenow and making a tax-deductible donation. And if you’re so inclined, share with your children why you feel funding music education is so important… you’ll be setting the stage for a new generation committed to causes of all stripes.
Tom Baggott joined the SpreadMusicNow team as Executive Director after being moved by both a personal connection to the mission and the impact of the Music Empowers brand. A music industry veteran, he brings his passion and support for youth culture, education and the community at large to the organization. Tom lives in Colchester, VT with his wife and two teenage daughters, two cats, and a rescue dog.
To learn more about Tom, visit our leadership page.