There's No I In Team, But There’s An A In STEAM
Similar to their counterparts in other departments, music teachers struggle for funding. Due to a shift in how schools are graded and evaluated at district and state levels, arts funding is usually one of the first things to get cut.
If you’re a music teacher, just because you’ve drawn the short straw doesn’t mean you have to live with it. There are other ways you can get money for your program - without going the tried and true bake sale route.
Here are a few ideas:
STEM TO STEAM
Many teachers are already familiar with STEM programs - the name stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal of these programs is to generate more student interest in these specific areas to help raise America’s brain power, funded in part by the U.S. government and in part through private grants.
Notice that music is missing.
However, recently there’s been a drive to include the Arts in STEM programs - and that should come as no surprise. Studying music and art has been known to boost learning and help child development, resulting in more well-rounded children.
Teachers who are interested in supporting their students’ growth in the arts can apply for grants - some of which are very substantial. All it takes is a Google search and a few minutes of your time. There is no risk in applying. You have nothing to lose and only funding to gain. And who wouldn’t take a shot at some free money for their program?
Ask And Ye Shall Receive
A lot of teachers are just used to not navigating tight budgets. They’ve been beaten down by budget cuts for so long they have found workarounds just to provide paper and pencils in their classrooms.
A mutual friend of mine recently took a job as a music teacher only to find that there was an account just sitting there with $25,000 in it - just for use in his department.
There’s a great likelihood that he just got lucky, but he’d have never found the money if he hadn’t asked. Your school may have extra money this year, but they didn’t even realize there was a need in your department.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always an inferred no.
School sports teams usually find sponsors easily, but I don’t see quite the same level of sponsorship for music department. Granted, sports teams are an easier sell - companies can often get their logo on the sports uniforms, in ads in the ballpark, etc. But the band department has something to offer too: music.
Why not offer to put on a big show in the park, or write and record a jingle for a sponsor?
Many large corporations are itching to give out money to great causes, and you should be one of them. Don’t feel like you need to limited yourself to mega names, either. Local mom and pop shops thrive on their reputation, and many may be willing to throw their support your way. And that support doesn’t need to always come in the form of greenbacks.
Local companies supporting local students pursue music helps create culture in your community.
Imagine: What if a music store sponsored your class and offered free repairs or discounted equipment?
These are just a few ideas, but every community and class has different needs.
Maybe you could host a battle of the marching bands and sell tickets.
Maybe you could go busking with your students on Main Street.
Maybe you could do live band karaoke for donations.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
Music in schools is not only important - it’s essential to life and development!
So, music teachers: renew that fighting spirit.
With a little elbow grease and tenacity, you can cobble together some more money for your class.