"Music advocacy that music teachers can finally be passionate about."
Let’s not beat around the bush here:
For me, NAfME’s Broader Minded campaign is shaping up to be the best advocacy message I’ve seen them put out in quite a while. Do I have some issues with it? Of course! (This wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t have some problems with a NAfME message.) But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that NAfME is finally putting forward a a message that music teachers can get behind.
The central focus on “Music makes you smarter” never appealed to music teachers. I know I’ve said this many times, but helping a student do better in their math class is not the reason that a musician devotes his or her life to teaching music. The “smart child” approach to advocacy lacked passion (something musicians have in spades) and the profession was never mobilized to action around it.
However, this message that music is good because it’s artistic, because it’s social, because it’s challenging, because it’s so many things… THIS is advocacy that can resonate with music educators. Only time will tell if the profession will jump on board (getting anybody to do anything is difficult), but just looking at the website lets me know that the organization is looking in the right direction.
Not to take away from the positives I’ve just shared with you, but I do think it’s important to include some of my concerns.
1) “Beyond the Bubbles” is great, but near the end of the video we get, “Math and Science matter. But music impacts and assesses students in other ways. Ways that a standardized test could never show.” (Emphasis mine.)
I just think that the inclusion of “and assesses” really undercuts a much more powerful message. It could have been written like this:
Math and Science matter. But music impacts students in other ways. Ways that a standardized test could never show.
BOOM. That’s EXACTLY what music teachers have been saying for YEARS. Let’s not mix up the message, NAfME. Keep pushing for music as a unique space where children get to explore their interests and talents; an endeavor that, hopefully, helps them find a voice - a means of expressing themselves. I know “assess” is a buzz word, but it confuses the point that you’re trying to make (or, at least, the point I want you to be making).
(This is the biggest version of the logo I could find on the website. I also had to invert it to make it visible. I hope they make this iconography available for others to use for school programs and other local things.)
2) Is it just me or does the “Think Beyond the Bubbles” logo pack more punch than the “Music on the brain” logo? To be honest, I really wish the entire campaign was titled, “Think beyond the bubbles” or, simply, “Beyond the Bubbles”. “Broader Minded” is directed towards both the child that a quality music education creates AND the way we perceive the value of music in our schools. That’s pretty cool. However, it just doesn’t feel as memorable to me. (The URL www.broaderminded.com just lacks some oomph.)
(Okay, so I just Googled it, and I see that Stanford has a program titled, “Beyond the Bubble”. Either way, some variation on that name would still be great.)
3) There are other ways of making music other than cello, piano, and marching band. That’s all we see in the short video. And, yes, I know time is limited. In the future, I sincerely hope that NAfME takes this opportunity to include all forms of making music rather than our more “traditional" offerings. In the future, it would be great to see someone singing a song on the guitar or using a turntable.
4) Is it “Broader-Minded” hyphenated or not? This probably won’t impact Google search results, but it appears with and without the hyphen in different places. (I would think it’s always hyphenated, but maybe a grammarian can explain to me why that’s not the case.)
Anyway, I think this is a great first step in helping to rethink some of the messaging that has been coming out of NAfME for a while. I look forward to what’s going to happen next! If anybody from NAfME wants some help, you know where to find me.
* * *
New Core Arts Standards?
I can’t help but wonder how this campaign interacts with the new Core Arts Standards that were announced last week. Standards, in our modern educational landscape, mean assessment, right? I asked some questions about this yesterday and I’m still looking for guidance from smart people. Let me know!