UD students Andrew McCutchon and Sarah Kutash traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for music education.

Lobbying for music

UD music education students lobby for their future careers

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11:36 a.m., July 22, 2013--Expressing their passions and voicing their opinions outside of the classroom setting, two University of Delaware undergraduates traveled to Washington, D.C., on June 28 to lobby for the future of music education.

Sarah Kutash and Andrew McCutchon, eager to take a stance on lagging support for school music programs nationwide, planned the trip immediately upon hearing that it might be possible for them to speak on Capitol Hill.

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“It seemed like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said Sarah Kutash, a rising senior music education major. “How often do you get to meet individually with senators and representatives to advocate your biggest passion and future career?”

As members of UD’s award-winning National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) chapter, Kutash and McCutchon discussed various aspects of the nation’s music education programs, including evaluation systems for music educators and students and what music as a “core subject” would mean in the education legislation.

They also discussed ways to advocate for modifying the education coalition from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

The students also met with U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and four senate staff members. 

“It was interesting that every representative we met with was very supportive of arts education, and almost all of them had participated in music themselves at one point,” said Kutash. 

With the nation’s struggling economy, many U.S. schools have experienced great difficulty regarding budgets and funding. These issues have forced many schools to cut their music and art programs as these classes are not usually considered “core subjects” like math or English.

The deletion of music and art programs stands as a threat to not only aspiring music teachers but also students who will not receive the benefits these programs offer, the UD students said.

“If there is too much focus on non-creative subjects in our schools, I believe that our educational programs across the nation would suffer,” said McCutchon, the current secretary of UD’s NAfME chapter. “Music not only teaches students how to understand and play music, but also key skills such as teamwork, time management, forward planning, and organization. Music in itself is such a powerful tool that anyone can connect to no matter how small that connection may be.”

NAfME, an organization that includes collegiate chapters and current teachers across the country, prepares future music teachers for their up-and-coming careers through guest lectures, music copyright law programs, mock job interviews, testimonials from first-year teachers and national networking opportunities. 

Last spring, UD’s chapter received recognition from the NAfME board by organizing a benefit concert that generated over $600 for Hurricane Sandy victims.

“NAfME is something that I am very proud to be a part of and am glad that many other music students at UD feel the same way,” said McCutchon.

As lifelong musicians, McCutchon and Kutash hope to continue their work in securing music education’s role in schools across the country.

“I don’t think any single student should have to miss out because their school’s program does not support music,” said Kutash

“What I came away with left me in an optimistic outlook for the future,” said McCutchon, “especially knowing that there are many people in Congress that understand the importance of music in schools and that we are working to make the music learning experience better in our schools.”

Article by Laura Hepp

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