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MENC: Promoting Excellence in Music Education for All Students

by Barbara B. Moody

The National Association for Music Education was founded in 1907 with just 104 members. Today, MENC has nearly 120,000 members across the country involved in all levels of music education from pre-school through college and in all areas including general music, choral, band, orchestral and music teacher education. MENC is the largest national association dedicated to the advancement of music education and to the professional growth of its members. The goals of the association are stated clearly in its mission statement: ". . . to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all."

Through its many programs, activities, publications and conferences, MENC addresses all aspects of music education and works to ensure that every student has access to a balanced, comprehensive and high quality program of music instruction. By promoting the best possible music education for all children and advancing music education as a profession, MENCís objectives include providing information, resources and services to music education professionals, promoting music as an essential area of study, fostering the use of the most effective techniques and resources in music education and maintaining an effective liaison with national organizations that have allied interests in arts and music education.

Membership in MENC is open to all individuals who teach music or other music-related educational work. All active members have the right to vote and hold office in the association, and a wide array of professional resources is available to them. The MENC website offers members free access to the online journals "General Music Today," "Journal of Music Teacher Education," and "UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education." Membership also includes subscriptions to two print journals, "Music Educators Journal" and "Teaching Music." All of these publications cover pertinent, timely issues and trends in music education and impart practical, real-life teaching techniques that teachers in any setting can put to use immediately.

Other online resources available to members include the networking opportunities offered though MENCís network communities. Members visiting the band, orchestra, chorus and general music "channels" will be able to get expert advice in answer to their questions. Each month features a different expert mentor in each category, who will respond to specific questions from members. Other online network communities include early childhood music, research, jazz and technology. These communities allow members to exchange ideas and discuss different strategies that can help with the challenges faced by teachers in all types of music classrooms.

MENC publishes an extensive catalog of materials, including over 200 books, videos, DVDís, CDís and an assortment of specialty items. All MENC publications are offered to members at a 25 percent discount and include titles in early childhood music education, multicultural resources, jazz, band, strings and orchestra, chorus, ideas and ideals and career materials. Two new resources of special interest to homeschoolers are Growing Your Musician: A Practical Guide for Band and Orchestra Parents and Liberty for All: A Musical Journey.

Growing Your Musician is a user-friendly parent guide that covers a variety of issues including how to choose the right instrument, how to set practice guidelines, how parents can talk about music with their children, and ways to inspire children and enhance their creativity and confidence. This 128-page book includes a list of frequently asked questions, a guide to musical terms and tables and charts throughout for easy reference.

Liberty for All is a CD-ROM with never-before-released live musical performances by "The Presidentís Own" U.S. Marine Band that trace Americaís history from the American Revolution through the 20th Century. The compilation includes an introduction by Army General Tommy Franks (Ret.) and narration covering the six historical eras by Amy Grant, Chely Wright, Gary Sinise and Richard Marx. This 55-minute CD-ROM helps to build knowledge of both music and history, while stirring pride in Americaís special place in history.

As part of its continuing effort to promote music education as an integral part of every childís education, MENC works at the local and national levels on a variety of advocacy programs. These programs include working with government agencies to achieve recognition of the arts as a fundamental "core" academic subject and collaborating with other organizations such as NAMM, the International Music Products Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and various corporate supporters to educate policy makers about the value of early childhood music education. Other member programs include MusicFriends, created for parents, community members, and other supporters of music education, which distributes information and resources to help support music programs at the local, state and national levels, and SupportMusic.com, in partnership with NAMM, which provides issue-specific facts and strategies to help save, start or improve music programs on all levels.

For more information on MENC or for information on ordering any of the publications mentioned, visit www.menc.org or call 1-800-828-0229.