Choral directors’ perspectives on advocacy statements targeted toward non-musicians



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Music education, like many other arts education fields, has faced a number of challenges over the years. Changes to education policy in the United States (U.S.) resulted in the No Child Left Behind Act with unintended consequences for music programs, including loss of funding and instructional time (Heffner, 2007). External forces, such as the U.S. education policy, community pressure, and others, have pressured school districts to make cuts to programs in order to expand school services for standardized testing and for college preparedness (Aróstegui, 2016; Heffner, 2007). In addition, there has been a growing disconnect between the curriculum traditional music education offers and the musical preferences of the general public (Aróstegui, 2016; Regelski, 2016; West & Clauhs, 2015). In this context, choral directors have chosen how to gain or maintain support, sustain enrollment, and avoid program cuts for their programs. When choosing which advocacy methods to employ, directors have consciously or unconsciously weighed whether to employ statements of the musical value of music education or statements of the extra benefits of music education not unique to music that many perceive will better recruit new students and sway parents or administration to support their programs. The purposes of this study were to determine Texas choral directors’ perspectives about what types of advocacy statements are most effective, whether those statements feel true to them personally, and how they pick which statements to use or not to use. A survey was constructed to gather both quantitative and qualitative data about participants’ perspectives on advocacy statements targeting non-musicians. Survey participants (N=61) were asked if they would like to participate in a brief interview; four directors accepted and answered questions relating to the topics covered in the survey. When promoting their program, directors in this study reported that they primarily used extra-musical advocacy statements to meet non-musicians’ expectations. Data showed that directors perceived extra-musical advocacy statements as significantly more true than musical advocacy statements. Study participants rated extra-musical advocacy statements as significantly more effective than musical advocacy statements. Survey respondents chose the advocacy statements they use primarily by finding which ones will meet non-musicians' expectations. Extra-musical advocacy statements were perceived by interview participants as necessary to recruit students to join their programs.



Music Education, Choir, Chorus, Advocacy, Perception, Choir Director, Extra-Musical, Musicing, Philosophy, Research, Parents, Administrators, Community