When her children’s New York school district faced massive budget cuts that would have slashed funds for music education, Kim Lowenborg-Coyne, PhD, the director of arts and music programs, decided to get informed and fight back. With the help of SupportMusic.com, a website storehouse of resources for defending music education in schools, Lowenborg-Coyne built a case of facts and statistics about the benefits of music education—everything from higher grades to decreased depression—to help restore money for the music program in the Long Island School District.

Q. What are the benefits of music in schools?

A. Music programs in the schools help our kids and communities in real and measurable ways, both academic and social. Studies have shown that secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs). Students with coursework or experience in music performance and music appreciation also scored higher on the SAT and showed significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. Children who experience music education also feel better about themselves and are less likely to drop out of school.

Q. What advice would you give to parents and community members who want to get involved in supporting music in schools?

A. Get out into the community every single day. Our music department puts murals on the windows of the post office all year long. We also sing at a local hospice, and our jazz band regularly performs swing music concerts at the local senior center. Whenever we can, we make sure all the concerts, exhibits, parades, and finished pieces of art or music we produce in the arts programs make their way into the public via press releases, radio programs, and television. People need to know that we are preparing kids for careers and that we are reading, writing, creating, and performing music, not just playing three tunes at the annual concert. Our motto is “knowledge is power,” and we believe learning about music is the pursuit of the highest form of wisdom.

Q. Where will you go from here?

A. Our goal is to help pass our overall annual school district budget with no cuts in the music education funds, to continue to nurture the atmosphere of respect and concern for music education that exists here in our community, and to provide the very best opportunity for our kids to play music … anytime, anywhere.