“Arts Education Is Essential”

Learn why art education is essential.

Halftime Magazine joins the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and nearly 100 organizations to state that “Arts Education Is Essential.” NAfME recognizes the “healing and unifying power of the arts” and issued the statement in May 2020 to encourage states and schools to remain committed to a fully funded arts education despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of marching arts organizations and instrument manufacturers are included among the long list of endorsers.

“It is imperative that all students have access to an equitable delivery of arts education that includes dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts that supports their educational, social, and emotional well-being, taught by certified professional arts educators in partnership with community arts providers,” the statement says.

The document goes on to explain that the arts can be even more important during difficult moments. “The arts have played an important role in these tumultuous times and will continue to do so for all students, including the traditionally underrepresented, those with special needs, and from low-income families.”

The statement cites the following three key points:

  1. Arts education supports the social and emotional well-being of students, whether through distance learning or in person.
  2. Arts education nurtures the creation of a welcoming school environment where students can express themselves in a safe and positive way.
  3. Arts education is part of a well-rounded education for all students as understood and supported by federal and state policymakers.

Denese Odegaard, a past president of NAfME, says that some school administrators have cut arts classes simply because of the inability to social distance. “Just because we can’t have large group ensembles doesn’t mean we can’t still teach the arts in a different way,” Odegaard says. “Our music educators have proven their flexibility in teaching online, and we believe they are ready for any situation.”

She says teachers, community members, and parents can help advocate for arts education by promoting its benefits and sharing NAfME’s statement. The association also has webinars and resources about advocacy and online music education for teachers.

Visit nafme.org for more details.

About the author

Kacie Brown

Kacie Brown was a member of the Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) High School band from 2012 to 2016. She is now pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in saxophone performance with a certificate in journalism at Indiana University. In 2019, she won the inaugural Elise Hall Competition for Emerging Saxophonists. She regularly performs with the Kanaderu Saxophone Quartet.

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