Advocacy – How To Make A Difference

Remember that song by John Mayer, ” Waiting on the World To Change?”

It always bothered me because I thought the message was one of apathy. I actually like the tune, but Mayer’s chorus, “waiting on the world to change,” repeats endlessly, leaving me hopeless, and angry.

If the song played on the radio while I was driving by myself, I would change the station. If the song played while I was driving my kids to basketball or home from school, I would seize the teaching moment and exclaim (while changing the station), “Don’t listen to him! Don’t wait on the world to change, you have to make the change.”

“Now we see everything that’s going wrong with the world and those who lead it. We just feel like we don’t have the means to rise above and beat it….It’s not that we don’t care, we just know the fight ain’t fair. So we keep waiting, waiting on the world to change…”

– From “Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer

Wake Up To Advocacy

Years later, and especially after watching the video, I realize Mayer was expressing the frustration we all feel when change seems huge and impossible to effect. The video expresses the “Wake Up” message that is too subtle in the song – but it’s there.

As parents of artistic or musical kids, we see the challenges. Arts programs are being questioned or cut by short-sighted policy makers and politicians across the country. It may seem that we are powerless to change their minds. But we aren’t. And we can’t just wait on the world to change.

  • Last month, the Philadelphia School District announced plans to eliminate instrumental music education. Full-time music teachers will be among the 3,900 teachers laid off, affecting 10,000 music students. (source: 

Could the parents of Philadelphia have done something more to prevent this? I’m not sure. But if we don’t want to succumb to the trend in our own communities, we need to get involved and make some change happen for ourselves.

  • In fact, just yesterday, in Nogales, Arizona, the school district board decided to access reserve funds to support a fledgling elementary music program. Their decision was in part due to the testimony of former music parents, Harriet Escalada and Bebe Nohe who “told the board of their own children’s post-high school musical successes, which they said began with structured elementary music education.”(source:

Some advocates are born that way – but most are made. I don’t know Harriet or Bebe, but maybe they have always spoken up for what they believe. Or, maybe, like most of us, they were hesitant and timid and stumbled their way into advocating for the music program they held so dear. Either way, they helped make something very important happen in their community.

You Have the Means To Rise Above

Fortunately for us, whether we were born that way or not, we can learn how to become an advocate, complete with materials and resources. We have the means – we just need to take the first step and decide to stop waiting.

Waiting on the World to Change
Waiting on the World to Change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Step One:

  • Educate yourself (see articles and links below).
  • Advocate among your friends and neighbors – tell them about the benefits of music and arts education.

Step Two:

  • Get involved in local boosters or parents programs that support the arts (or create one).
  • Write to your local government and/or school board to thank them and tell them what arts education means to you, your children and your community.

Step Three:

  • Repeat

Step Four:

  • Don’t give up!



  • Join Americans for the Arts in their quest to guarantee healthy arts funding and arts education in America.

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