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How to start a music program

With budgetary blues playing all over the nation, music programs are getting silenced. Use this guide to bring music education back to your child's school.

By Rob Baedeker

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money and trebel clef

Bank notes

A good music program will be long-term, and this requires more than good intentions.  It requires money!  First stop?  Your school's PTO.  If your school's PTO doesn't have the funds or doesn't exist, try to  find a local music organization that can become a partner.   Look for  a corporate sponsor that might want to fund for a pilot program.  For instance, a local opera company might conduct a program in your school while a local business that wants to be associated with the arts helps fund it.

Regional arts councils often provide grants for music education, and they can connect you with other music-education resources, from existing programs to teachers and arts-related events. Businesses -- both local and national -- can be another good source of funding, whether it's the neighborhood café providing space for a concert or a large corporation sponsoring a long-term music program. 

And there are thousands of private foundations that give money to the arts. Artists House Music provides a good overview of where and how to pursue grant money for a music program and the Children's Music Workshop has a list of music-related grants

Finally, university music programs may be a good way to create a program on a shoestring.  If you can arrange for graduate students to teach and receive credit for their teaching at your child's school, they won't need to be paid as much (if at all).  Instead, you will need to provide these fledging music teachers with a structured internship -- feedback and support from a teacher or other staff.

Rob Baedeker is a writer living in Berkeley, Calif. He is the coauthor, with the Kasper Hauser comedy group, of SkyMaul: Weddings of the Times and Obama's BlackBerry.

Comments from readers

"I usually say that once something like music is eliminated in schools it is always boring, i like music so much and my son likes it too, their school eliminated music and he wanted to do it as a career and so i had to transfer him to a school that is best in music. Good post."
"I love the fact that some schools feel that a music program is essential!"