As we start our new school year, inevitably K-12 band directors and music teachers will have the opportunity to spend some time communicating face-to-face with parents. I always think of these times as opportunities to laud the importance and benefits of our program in ways that parents (and students?) might not always consider. In today’s age of technology and easy communication online, most of us are already communicating the needed day-to-day logistical information necessary to participate in our programs through email, texting apps, snail mail, etc. Face to face time is a valuable opportunity to make an impact with parents and families - I try not to waste it on “announcements”. Most students can easily communicate that they are in our band programs because they like the social aspects, they enjoy the artistic performance or they simply like being in our classes because of our “vibrant” and “charming” personalities (?). However there are countless other benefits to share with parents and I always try to make a point of sharing something new and unique at concerts or other gatherings of parents, just to help them keep it all in perspective – it’s easy to lose sight of the “why” as we move through daily rehearsals and the usual performances. Here are a few I’ve thought of recently – feel free to use whatever you like. 1. My “go-to” anecdote is that band realizes ALL of the purposes of public school education: the development of hand, head and heart. Simply, hand symbolizes the development of fine motor skills, head symbolizes knowledge and heart symbolizes social and emotional development. Our band (and music) programs develop ALL of these items. In addition, music is in the school curriculum (and it is NOT an “activity”!) because of it is a unique expressive symbol system that reflects history and the SOUL of the human condition. 2. One aspect that separates the United States from the rest of the world is our amazing ability to create and foster creativity. Americans invent the product and then ship it overseas so that other cultures can mass produce the idea cheaply and benefit from it. Look at all of the technological advances over the last century that have changed the world – they’re all “made in America”. Isn’t that unique creativity fostered in our arts programs? Other countries that have tried to compete with America have performed exhaustive studies of our system of music education and probably value and envy it more than most of the Americans that actually participate in it…. 3. A few years ago, I attended a slew of college visits with my high school-aged daughter. We were shown videos at each university attempting to entice her to apply and listened to what the admissions officers valued in accepting students to their institutions. It was interesting to note that every one of the videos (9 videos at 9 universities) that we viewed included a segment showcasing the arts at their institution. Only a small percentage of students are actually interested in majoring in the arts – why the attention? Because a HIGH percentage of students that attend these universities were INVOLVED in the arts in high school! It’s a hook that every one of the institutions recognized and showcased in their admissions video. The best kids in any school are involved in the arts. Period. The list goes on and on. I encourage you to bring these endless anecdotes to your parents showcasing the importance of music in their lives. As you begin your school year, good luck stressing advocacy with parents and let the NBA’s resources help you!