Music gives meaning to life, and our visible support for music in our communities should begin with the people on the front lines: the music educators who each day awaken the music within school children.
Although our mantra in the Outreach area is “Music-Money-Men,” we should always keep in mind that these resources are all in the service of the fourth M: MEANING. To bring that meaning to the fore, BHS has teamed with NAfME to create the Barbershop Harmony Society/NAfME Music Educator Award. The annual award has been established to honor educators who give students the opportunity to learn and participate in the joy and power that music education brings in uplifting the human spirit and fostering the wellbeing of society. (Read about 2017 award-winner Heather Nail.)
Educators often receive thanks from students’ parents, who see their impact directly. Occasionally, colleagues and administration take note. It is far more rare for recognition to come from outside that direct circle of influence -- yet decisions about program support, budget, facilities and more are made from the outside.
To that end, the fact that a barbershop group (chapter, district, even an individual) takes notice and prepares a nomination for the award is noteworthy. As the eligibility and nomination process make clear, there are a wealth of worthy recipients whose stories should be told. So, tell it!
After preparing the nomination, you can further support the teacher by forwarding a copy of the nomination materials to the educator’s principal, district supervisor and school board. What is better for a career than a laudatory message from a third party?
Why you’ll benefit
Beyond the intrinsic value of doing good for goodness’ sake, your chapter might see some other spin-off benefits. Naturally, your own credibility grows as an organization that takes seriously the role of the arts in education. Study after study have demonstrated positive links between engagement with music and academic achievement. Even more important is that it shapes the way students understand themselves and the world around them. It allows for deep engagement and nurtures skills critical for future success -- creativity, curiosity, determination, communications and motivation. Your support for music actively makes better thinkers, doers and citizens for tomorrow.
As a chapter, you may find this project well-suited to the skills of a member eager to help with outreach purposes beyond personal performance. Former educators with connections who know how to speak ‘education’ are valuable here.
Your proactive stance in helping others with no strings attached will also be convincing evidence in future applications for arts grants.
This entire activity is a great way to honor someone praiseworthy. Do not treat it as a way to capture an audience for a barbershop sales talk. It’s not about you. Let the music educator grasp that the chapter truly cares what a good job he/she is doing for the students, school and community.