March in America Is Music In Our Schools Month: And CBM’s James Wallace Is Making It Count

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MENC member and former music teacher from New York City, James Wallace looked at the calendar and read about mounting difficulties for music programs in American public schools, and concluded he had to take matters into his own hands. Each CD Wallace sells at the Arlington Café is being donated 100% to benefit the MENC. “Act local, think global,” he muses...

MENC member and former music teacher from New York City, James Wallace looked at the calendar and read about mounting difficulties for music programs in American public schools, and concluded he had to take matters into his own hands. So at The Arlington Café in Kensington CA he has been holding a monthly workshop for students to sit-in and support music education with funds raised going to benefit the MENC:

“It’s fun and informal,” offers Wallace, “Not just for the kids to come with their instruments and sit-in, but the parents can contribute too, grabbing a bite and helping a worthy cause.”

At a time of alarm for public education resources, missing in much of the discourse is mainstream media mention of the value of arts programs in the schools. “I taught for years in several NY schools,” enthuses Wallace, “And for many students it was their only chance to excel, to benefit from one-on-one instruction, to build their self-esteem… How can you put a price on that? We should be talking about a fourth ‘R’ in the schools.”

MENC is the National Association for Music Education based out of Reston, VA, and is among the world's largest arts education organizations, and the only US association that addresses all aspects of music in education. Asked why the focus on helping the national group, rather than the states and local chapters, Wallace had a noteworthy response:

“At the federal level they talk about billions flowing back to the states based on results, but the No Child Left Behind Act – even being updated- does not reward arts programs. They don’t test for music, so how do they support it?”

Asked for his view on testing, Wallace was clear: “If we want to make progress, we need to inspire. Kids aren’t dumb. We need to present course material not for the sake of being tested. When you challenge students to discover themselves and the world, they refine their skills in the process. And that means a curriculum that includes music and the arts.”

Each CD Wallace sells at the Arlington Café is being donated 100% to benefit the MENC. “Act local, think global,” he muses. “We need to send a message to everyone who can speak up in Washington DC: It’s March and we need music in our schools! Everyone who cares about our future needs to pitch in. Pass it on!”

When: March 20, 2010; Where: Arlington Café, 65 Arlington, Kensington CA 510. 525.3900; Cost: free/donation; donate: http://www.menc.org/resources/view/donate; info. on James Wallace/the 4 R’s: http://www.jameswallace.net; CBM is an online publisher promoting the arts in education, environmental awareness and community well-being.

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