Headshot of Michael A. ButeraMichael A. Butera, executive director and CEO at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), is a passionate advocate for music education as an integral part of the mission of secondary schools. In this month’s questionnaire, we asked him about working together with NASSP, music budgets, and his favorite rock band.

What are your three most important goals?

Ensuring that every student has an opportunity for music as a regular part of a well-balanced curriculum, particularly in economically deprived communities; developing a commitment among policymakers at the local, state, and national levels to the value of music education; and providing opportunities for students to demonstrate their musical knowledge and share the joys of creating and performing in their communities.

How has NAfME collaborated with NASSP?

During this past year, working with NASSP, we developed a teacher evaluation workbook designed to assist the principal and the music educator in fulfilling high-quality instruction and meeting school and district quality standards.

How do you prevent music budgets from being cut?

Parents, administrators, and music educators must engage policymakers in the recognition that there is a high degree of correlation between those students engaged in music programs and the attaining of outcomes such as school attendance, graduation rates, and reduction in disciplinary issues. NAfME members this year have sent over 14,000 letters to Congress asking lawmakers to support music as a core subject in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

What’s your favorite rock band?

It dates me, but “The Boss”—Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band.  

What’s your favorite kind of music?

I enjoy all forms of music-hip-hop, classical, jazz, blues. On a personal level, I’m an opera buff. I especially love Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida.”

What’s the biggest change in music education in the last decade?

Ensuring that students in under-resourced areas, particularly urban and rural communities, have the same opportunities as other students. To be candid, the overemphasis on STEM education has needlessly contracted the curriculum, denying students the very creativity and entrepreneurship that STEM advocates so deeply value.

What’s your outlook on the future of music education?

In a word, bright! Walk down any street, through a mall, around our schools, in our cars, and in our homes: Music is usually present. 

What initiatives are you most proud of at NAfME?

Our advocacy efforts in both Congress and state legislatures to ensure music’s rightful place as a core subject, along with building close ties with our component federated state associations.