Pennsylvania Leaders Advocate for Music Education with Federal Elected Officials during Appropriations Season

On June 12, 2024, more than 300 music education leaders and advocates convened in Washington, DC, to share the importance of music education with their federal legislators. Scott Cullen (Octorara High School), Brett Keith (Northern Bedford County High School), Keegan McLean (Duquesne University student), Rebecca Sensor (DuBois Area Middle School), and Scott Sheehan (Hollidaysburg Area High School) from Pennsylvania were among the many voices from across the country advocating for music education during the annual National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Hill Day.

Pictured: Scott Cullen (Octorara High School Music Educator, PMEA President), Keegan McLean (Duquesne University Student), Scott Sheehan (Hollidaysburg Area High School music educator, NAfME Past President), Rebecca Sensor (Dubois Area Middle School Music Educator), Brett Keith (Northern Bedford County High School Music Educator, PMEA President-Elect), Abigail Young (PMEA Executive Director), and Mark Despotakis (PMEA Director of Public and Government Affairs).

“Teachers, by nature, are leaders—in their classroom, in their community, and most recently on Capitol Hill,” said NAfME President Deb Confredo. “The annual NAfME Hill Day provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with legislators and share the benefits of music teaching and learning. Many thanks to the congressional offices and music educators and advocates who made this year’s Hill Day a resounding success!”

“It is important to remind policy makers in Washington, DC about the good things happening in music classrooms in Pennsylvania,” noted Scott Cullen, Octorara High School music educator. “Music education is crucial for every student, and we share that message at the federal level as we advocate for funding and policy issues.”

When meeting with members of Congress, attendees shared their personal experiences of music education’s positive impact on their students and communities. These anecdotes helped facilitate conversation focused on how legislators can support federal programs and legislation ensuring all students have access to a well-rounded education that includes music.

NAfME advocates for federal programs that support a well-rounded education such as Titles I, II, and IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Increased investment in these programs is even more vital in FY 2025 as schools must obligate their COVID relief funding by September 2024. Survey data from the association and partner organizations indicate those funds were used to purchase instruments, increase staffing for music programs, and provide content-specific professional development for music teachers and summer enrichment activities for students. New this year, music teachers are also asking their members of Congress to support the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act to better supports students with disabilities in the music classroom.

The event concluded with a joyous and inspiring sing-along held at the Robert Taft Memorial near the U.S. Capitol PMEA and NAfME extend a note of gratitude to the educators and supporters who work toward ensuring music education for all students.


The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a statewide nonprofit organization of over 3,700 members, dedicated to promoting the musical development of all Pennsylvanians. The present membership evolved from a small group of band directors dating from 1933. Today, the organization includes those engaged in music instruction at all levels, from preschool through college and university, as well as those in the music industry, merchandising and publishing. The organization promotes and supports quality music education, learning and performance as well as promoting and supporting music education in schools and communities. PMEA is affiliated with The National Association for Music Education, NAfME.