NAMM, music industry leaders and musicians press Congressional leaders on the importance of providing quality, comprehensive music education to all children. NAMM’s D.C. Fly-In allows members to perpetuate NAMM’s vision of a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right. This year’s Fly-In, the largest ever, included a day of service at Savoy Elementary, advocacy training at the Kennedy Center, a celebration of Turnaround Arts at the Library of Congress, and more than 100 meetings with Members of Congress.
“One of NAMM’s most important objectives is to represent the industry’s voice with our elected officials,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. “NAMM members who took time out of their lives to come to D.C. deserve all of our respect. With NAMM’s unified message of music’s power to improve creativity, listening skills, innovation and the ability to work in teams, these members have stood up and made their voice heard for all of us. This is the process. This is our responsibility. This is democracy in action.”
Sixty-five NAMM members, STEAM Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, auditory learning expert Dr. Nina Kraus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith, former New York Yankee, Latin GRAMMY-nominated musician Bernie Williams, and actor Doc Shaw fortified the tenth annual event, which reinforces the importance of music education for all children.
“We want to make sure that kids have access to music in schools. That’s why I’ve been coming to Washington for nine years begging Congress to make music part of every child’s education,” said Susan Lipp, co-owner of Full Compass. “I feel like what I’m doing here has meaning. It’s empowering. It makes you feel that what you say and do can make a difference in this country, which is a beautiful thing.”
In face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress, NAMM members and artists urged the reauthorization and full funding of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The delegates also urged lawmakers to continue the designation of music as a core academic subject.
Music learning in early childhood is particularly important, according to Northwestern University researcher Dr. Nina Kraus, who briefed education staff during the Fly-in. "Everyday listening skills including the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory, are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training," Dr. Kraus said. "Our studies show that even a few years of musical training early in life improve how the brain processes sound. This early exposure can last well into adulthood, years after the training has ceased."
The Fly-in kicked off with a day of service at Washington, D.C.’s Savoy Elementary. Savoy students jammed on guitar, drums and ukulele with NAMM members, Chad Smith, Bernie Williams, Doc Shaw, award-winning folk duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, GRAMMY-nominated music educator Glen McCarthy, and drummer Bob Bloom. Savoy Elementary is one of the eight pilot schools in the Turnaround Arts program. Turnaround Arts, funded in part by the NAMM Foundation, infuses low-performing schools with the arts in an effort to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement. This week, Michelle Obama during the first-ever White House Talent Show announced that Turnaround Arts will expand to include 35 schools in 10 states.
Smith, who returned to Capitol Hill with NAMM, testified to the power of music education in his own life. "Without access to music education in school, I would not be where I am today. Now it is time to pay that forward and ensure that kids today have the same access to music education that I was afforded." Smith said. “Funding for music education is always in jeopardy, but we have the power to change that and do something good for kids across the country.”
Fly-In participants attended the NAMM Foundation-hosted “Celebrating Music Education” reception at the Library of Congress honoring the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Turnaround Arts, and Kent Knappenberger, recipient of the GRAMMY Foundation’s Music Educator Award with Support Music Awards.