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Empowering Our Educators

How Music Educators Can Be Leaders in Their Profession


Kathleen D. Sanz, PhD

President and Board Chair, National Association for Music Education

In so many ways, educators are the backbone of our communities, guiding the future leaders of industry, culture, institutions, and families. Teachers give so much of themselves personally and professionally both during the “work hours” of the school day and, as many of us all know, during hours carved out of their personal time.

Music educators fill a particularly critical role in the lives and education of our students — inspiring them to find their “voice,” independence, confidence, and collaborative spirit with their peers. They are trusted mentors who give students opportunities to excel both in music and in leadership.

Fostering a better future

Music teachers spend time during the school day, as well as after and before school, in whole group rehearsals and small group instruction with their music students in a way other subjects often do not require. Music educators have the opportunity to spend multiple years with the same students, building invaluable mentoring relationships and influencing the continuing education decisions of their students.

Naturally, music educators, then, have the best ideas about how to bring all kinds of music into the lives of students from every walk of life and ability level. Music educators lead in collaborative research in their classrooms and school districts. They mentor younger music educators. They attend and present at highly specialized professional development conferences in their own states and at the national level. They share ideas and classroom techniques in online communities, like the NAfME Amplify community, and on-demand professional development webinars, like NAfME Academy.

Making a long-lasting difference

It is critical to acknowledge the expertise music educators have in their teaching area. Ongoing professional development at the discretion of each school’s music teacher or teachers is the pathway toward providing our students — our future leaders — high-quality music education, putting them on a level playing field with all of their peers. Districts benefit from funding professional development opportunities that allow music educators to constantly refresh their toolkit of supports and ideas to meet the needs of ever-changing student populations.

If we truly appreciate our educators, we will support their professional development efforts, empowering them to effectively lead in their schools and communities.

Kathleen D. Sanz, PhD, President and Board Chair, National Association for Music Education, [email protected]

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