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A regular night each month leads to reli- able attendance with careful planning to avoid conflicts with other school activities that might involve parents desiring to at- tend their child’s other athletic or extra- curricular activities. Robert’s Rules of Order in Plain English, by Doris P. Zim- merman is an excellent resource on how to run meetings and to provide structure for your organization. Generally, a lower level of parliamentary procedure is appropriate for music parent’s associations but certain tasks are imperative. Minutes should be taken at each meeting, usually by the secretary. That document should be read and approved at the following meeting and a permanent record kept of all minutes. Mailing or emailing a newsletter to all par- ents is advantageous in conjunction with each meeting. That will keep all parents in- formed of your students’ activities and of the decisions the board has made. In addi- tion, your by-laws and meeting procedures should accommodate careful handling of finances. A determination will need to be made on whether your organization should incorporate (always check with your school and district administrators first), who will maintain your account(s) and what type of malfeasance protections

are in place. Make sure you have complete trust in those who handle money and keep those volunteers to a minimum. Transpar- ency of finances is extremely important. Always have account balances read and recorded in the minutes of each meeting and have the ledgers available for perusal at all board meetings.

Advocating With Purpose

Music advocacy has always been an im- portant pursuit for music parent groups. That activity has gained more significance in recent years with a lagging national economy leading to painful cuts in school budgets. Since those reductions often target the “non-tested” academic areas, music departments have seen drastic cuts in operating budgets and staffing. The belief in a strong music program provid- ing great educational and performance opportunities for its students needs to be promoted by every parent organization at concerts, board meetings and in the com- munity. Reductions in music budgets and staffing often are minimized or eliminated with a well-organized parent response. Remember, insisting on respectful yet passionate communications from your parents’ group will be more effective than angry and insulting attacks on administra- tors and board members.

Performing Groups... 2012 Wisconsin State Music Conference

Calling for

Interested in showcasing your music group to hundreds of friends and colleagues from throughout the state? If so, then we would like to hear from you!

WMEA is currently accepting applications from elementary, middle school, high school and university music groups interested in performing at the 2012 Wisconsin State Music Conference, October 24-27.

Download the application form today at Hurry - Application deadline is March 15!

20 January 2012

“In today’s society, the arts are one of the first things to be cut from school program- ming. An active parents’ group helps keep the importance of the arts alive.”

– Teri Milligan, President, West Bend High School Band Boosters.

Each step of the journey to form a music parents’ organization should always in- clude the question, “How does this deci- sion best support my students?” Keeping centered on their needs is ultimately why you have decided to form this group. Contemporary music parent groups have moved beyond being solely focused on fundraising, competitions and travel. Currently, parent groups are more com- prehensive organizations. They support students with higher-level educational opportunities and scholarships as well as help their teachers organize events, com- municate with the public and advocate for keeping music programs a strong part of schools in the future.

H. Robert Dittmer is recently retired from serving as West Bend High School director of bands for the past 25 years and is currently a performer, composer and private horn instructor. Email:

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