Welcome to the first Flute Friday/Sunday post of 2017! I am a bit behind on my postings….but today I am back in the saddle to discuss something that may be on many of our minds – How do we protect the future of the arts? We have entered a volatile time in which many of our cultural values are being put on trial, in danger of losing financial support by those holding the keys to the free world. Earlier this week, it was suggested in the media that our new administration is planning to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. This will leave our already struggling industry thriving merely on life support. What can we do to keep classical music alive in our schools and communities? How do we ensure that music remains relevant in a world where greed decides how we live our lives? We now must advocate for the arts on individual, local, state, and national levels with more gusto that ever before to fight those who wish to silence our stages. After all, without music, art, and culture, the world is rendered meaningless.
So, what can you do to support music both in your local communities and on a national level?
1. Support your local symphony. Attend a concert. Donate to the organization. Meet the musicians and attend the conductor’s pre-concert talk. Take your kids to a children’s concert or a summer concert in the park. The key to keeping classical music alive is making it part of your lives, and sustaining the future of classical music is reliant on making music meaningful to future generations.
2. Support music programs in schools. Sign up to participate in your local high school’s Band Boosters group. Volunteer to lend a helping hand at youth symphony concerts. Attend middle school and high school band, orchestra, and choir concerts (not just as a parental obligation but as a community supporter). Donate to your local youth music program both financially as well as practically (Do you have musical instruments laying around your house that nobody plays – Donate them to a local school program! Music books your kids abandoned long ago? Donate!).
3. Are you a musician? Donate your time and expertise. Hold a free masterclass in your community to help kids who may not have the money to pay for private lessons gain valuable lessons, strengthen their skills, and develop a greater sense of community among fellow musicians. Host a sectional for students at local school programs in your instrumental area (ex. woodwinds, brass, strings, etc.). Donate your time as an adjudicator at local music festivals or summer music programs.
4. Host a free recital. Share your music with your community! Expose your neighbors to music that they cannot simply hear on their local radio stations. Bring Bach to the Block!
5. Organize chamber groups within your area. There are musicians everywhere searching for opportunities to perform with other musicians. Start a flute choir! Organize a string quartet. Call up your colleagues and rehearse woodwind quintet repertoire. Create opportunities to share interesting chamber music with your community. Chances are, many community members have never been exposed to chamber music repertoire in your area. Broaden their horizons!
6. Perform with local community bands and orchestras. Smaller musical organizations need stronger musicians to perform increasingly complicated repertoire that connects with community concert goers. Create relationships with your fellow musicians and advocate for the arts together. We are stronger when we help each other succeed.
7. On a national level, donate to organizations that promote and support music and music education around the country. These organizations include the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (which provides musical instruments to under-funded programs nationwide), VH1 Save the Music Foundation (which supports music education in schools), the NAMM Foundation (which funds grants, research, and advocacy in support of music education), and countless others.
8. Organize a fundraiser to support your local music groups. Host a bake sale to raise funds for new instruments at your local school program. Set up a scholarship foundation to provide financial support for talented, college bound musicians in your community. Hold a “gig night” concert at your local community center and donate all proceeds to your local symphony.
9. Post those YouTube videos! Share classical music performances everywhere using the power of the internet. Connect with other groups and performers on social media platforms. Create advocacy groups on Facebook and Twitter and share your experiences supporting music organizations all over the world. Post instructional videos and spread the word about the power of classical music on blogs and articles worldwide. Use technology to promote and advocate on a global level.
10. Finally, keep performing and teaching in your communities. Times may get tough, but it is up to musicians to keep music alive. Keep singing. Keep playing. Keep teaching. Keep performing. This is how we sustain our art now and in the future.
Challenge yourself to advocate for classical music at least once a week for the next 3 months or more! We can strengthen the classical music industry by investing our time, energy, money, and talents on sustaining performing groups and supporting foundations devoted to protecting the future of music.
How do you advocate for the arts? What are some of the community groups that you support? Do you donate regularly to national foundations supporting the arts? Please comment below!
Happy fluting (and advocating)!