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ABC’s of Advocacy

Reprinted with permission of SBO+ Magazine.

By Scott Sheehan, NAfME President

Advocacy is the art of building relationships. Over the past several years, my journey has provided me with some amazing opportunities to serve our profession in various capacities. Throughout my years of service, perhaps the most meaningful takeaway I have gleaned is the unbelievable potential impact that each of us must strengthen and support music education. We all possess a unique way of sharing our passion for music and unlocking its creative and expressive power for our students, as well as promoting its importance for every student in every school across the country. The list below captures some of the thoughts and ideas that I’ve encountered about advocacy, and it is meant to be a source of encouragement and inspiration as we all continue working to make a difference for students!

  • Access Advocates work toward expanding equitable access to music education for all students
  • Bravery Advocates must be brave and willing to stand up for what is right, even when it is uncomfortable
  • Clarity Advocates must have a clear and succinct message
  • Difficult Advocates may face tough challenges along the way; stay strong and don’t give up
  • Equity Advocates strive for equity in music education where all students have the opportunity to grow musically and in ways
    that are meaningful and relevant
  • FutureAdvocates predict outcomes and possible roadblocks along the way; they are proactive and forward-thinking
  • Growth Advocates must see the possibilities and be open to new ideas; every situation is an opportunity to grow
  • Heart Advocates must make the message personal and know that to change minds we must first change hearts
  • Inclusion Advocates are driven to advance inclusive, NOT exclusive, practices and policies
  • Journey Advocates focus on the process as well as the outcome; we’re in it for the long haul
  • Knowledge Advocates are aware of the issues, the facts, and the circumstances; be educated on the issues
  • Lessons Advocates learn from their successes and their failures; there is something to learn from every situation
  • Metrics Advocates set goals and benchmarks to measure success; make a difference everyday
  • Network Advocates rely on those around them for support and encouragement; continue to expand your circle of influence
  • OpticsAdvocates are aware of how a course of action will be perceived 
  • Patient Advocates know when to push and when to wait; timing is important
  • QuantityAdvocates understand there is strength in numbers and look to gather as many people as possible to join the cause
  • RepresentAdvocates garner support for the community and culture from where they reside
  • StrategicAdvocates plan strategically and thoroughly; know your plan and stick to it
  • Truth Advocates support their message with facts, data, and research
  • UnityAdvocates have a unified message and strive to build support for the cause; unity is built within the community
  • Vision Advocates look to the future and think forward; cherish today and be prepared for tomorrow
  • WillingAdvocates are willing to use their time, energy, talent, and resources to achieve their goals
  • Xenial Advocates are friendly and approachable; be patient, and eager to understand
  • Yield Advocates know when someone else is better suited for a task; reach out to those around you when required
  • Zeal Advocates show enthusiasm for achieving their goals throughout the process; together, we can do this!    

 I hope some of these ideas resonate and you will take action to become a music education advocate and champion!