(Article for the CMEA Journal – Winter edition)
In 1947, a committee of representatives from MENC, the American Federation of Musicians and the American Association of School Administrators created an agreement known as The Music Code of Ethics to assist in defining the jurisdictions of music educators and professional musicians. At some point in our professional careers as musicians and educators we have all become aware of this document and its guidelines, and most of us would not knowingly violate the fundamentals of the Code. (The Music Code of Ethics may be found on the MENC website, www.menc.org, the Denver Musicians’ Association, www.dmamusic.org, or at the Pikes Peak Musicians’ Association, www.afm154.org.)
In recent years it has become apparent that students are increasingly being engaged to perform in non-educational settings. This practice not only deprives professional musicians of securing work that should rightfully belong to them, but it does a disservice to the students (who perhaps may be future professionals) by teaching them that their performance has little or no value. At the American Federation of Musicians Convention this past June I learned that these incidences are occurring not only in Colorado but on a national level and, as a result, AFM Convention Delegates passed a resolution condemning these practices and urging delegates to address the issue in their local jurisdictions.
In Colorado Springs, for example, we continue to receive reports of students performing at weddings, receptions, at local hotels and for other public events for little or no remuneration or in exchange for tuition credits or donations to the organization that promoted them. A private teacher was shocked when a cello student brought music for a “gig” to a lesson for help. The music was for a hotel Christmas show that the student had been “hired” to play. The Denver Musicians’ Association has reported that elsewhere in the state a youth symphony engaged a string quartet to perform for four hours as background music for a social event for that organization. As in competitive sports events, a young musician does not have the training, development and physical or mental stamina to perform for such a period of time. Minimum wage and child labor laws have existed for many years, but they would seem not to apply to these situations. Some would say that these students are gaining experience, but they are clearly being exploited when they are used in performances that are not events designed to promote and encourage their musical growth and development. If a student has achieved the level of expertise required to perform in a professional capacity, he or she can receive assistance and protection from these abuses by becoming a Student Member of the AFM, thereby having the opportunity to earn fair payment for his or her work.
A renewed effort is needed to raise awareness among parents, students, educators and musicians, as well as with the public at large, of the different roles that students and professionals play in promoting music as a vital part of our communities and to encourage recognition of the differences between education and entertainment. In educating our students we should strive to instill in them a respect for a profession that they may one day be part of.
—Diane Merrill, President
Pikes Peak Musicians’ Association, Local #154
American Federation of Musicians
(former professional violinist and private teacher of violin)
The Music Code of Ethics – An agreement defining the jurisdictions of music educators and professional musicians
The Music Code of Ethics Music educators and professional musicians alike are committed to the importance of music as an essential component in the social and cultural fiber of our country. Many of the ways that they serve this commitment overlap—many professional musicians are music educators, and many music educators are, or have been, actively engaged in the field of professional performance. Based on training and expertise, however, educators and professional musicians serve fundamentally different functions:
· Music educators contribute to music in our society by promoting teaching music in schools, colleges and universities, and by promoting a greater interest in music and the study of music.
· Professional musicians contribute through their performance of music to the public in promoting the enjoyment and understanding of music. This Code is principally concerned with this role, though professional musicians also contribute by providing music for weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies .
When the line between these different functions is blurred, problems may arise: Music educators may find that school programs they have built over the years are thrown into disarray. Musicians may suffer harm to their prestige and economic status. And those served by both educators and musicians students and the public— may find that they are poorly educated and poorly entertained.
This Code of Ethics sets out guidelines that will help educators and performers avoid problems stemming from a lack of understanding of each others’ role. It does not address the many other issues that shape ethical behavior in performance and in education.
Music Educators and the student groups they direct should be focused on the teaching and learning of music and on performances of music directly connected with the demonstration of performances at:
· School functions initiated by the schools as a part of a school program, whether in a school building or other site.
· Community functions organized in the interest of the schools strictly for educational purposes, such as those that might be originated by the parent and teachers association.
· School exhibits prepared as a courtesy on the part of a school district for educational organizations or educational conventional organizations or educational conventions being entertained in the district.
· Educational broadcasts that have the purpose of demonstrating or illustrating pupils’ achievements in music study or that represent the culmination of a period of study and rehearsal. Included in this category are local, state, regional, and national school music festivals and competitions held under the auspices of schools, colleges, universities, and/or educational organizations on a nonprofit basis and broadcast to acquaint the public with the results of music instruction in the schools.
· Student or amateur recordings for study purposes made in the classroom or in connection with contest, festival, or conference performances by students. These recordings are routinely licensed for distribution to students, but should not be offered for general sale to the public through commercial outlets in any way that interferes with the normal employment of professional musicians.
In addition, it is appropriate for educators and the school groups they direct to take part in performances that go beyond typical school activities, but they should only do so where they have established that their participation will not interfere with the rights of professional musicians. and where that participation occurs only after discussion with local musicians (through the local of the A F of M). Events in this category may include:
· Civic occasions of local, state, or national patriotic interest, of sufficient breadth to enlist the sympathies and cooperation of all persons, such as those held by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars in connection with Memorial Day services.
· Benefit performances for local charities, such as the Red Cross and hospitals (when and where local professional musicians would likewise donate their services.)
Professional Musicians provide entertainment. They should be the exclusive presenters of music for:
· Civic parades (where professional marching bands exist), ceremonies, expositions, community-center activities; regattas; nonscholastic contests, festivals, athletic games, activities, or celebrations, and the like; and national, state, and county fairs.
· Functions for the furtherance, directly or indirectly, of any public or private enterprise. This might include receptions or public events sponsored by chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and commercial clubs or associations.
· Any occasion that is partisan or sectarian in character or purpose. These occasions might include political rallies, private parties, and other similar functions.
· Functions of clubs, societies, and civic or fraternal organizations.
Interpreting the Code is simple. This is not to say that the principles set forth in this Code will never be subject to differing interpretations. But if educators and performers keep to the core ethical idea, that education and entertainment have separate goals, conflict should be kept to a minimum. Additional considerations:
· School groups should not be called on to provide entertainment at any time—they should be involved exclusively in education and the demonstration of education. Statements that funds are not available for the employment of professional musicians; that if the talents of school musical organizations are not available, other musicians cannot or will not be employed; or that the student musicians are to play without remuneration of any kind, are all immaterial.
· Enrichment of school programs by presentations from professional entertainers does not replace a balanced, sequential education in music provided by qualified teachers. Enrichment activities must always be planned in coordination with music educators and carried out in a way that helps, rather than hinders, the job of bringing students the skills and knowledge they need. The mere fact that it may be easier for a school administration to bring in a unit from a local performing arts organization than to support a serious, ongoing curriculum in the schools has no bearing on the ethics of a professional entertainer’s involvement.
Should conflicts occur in issues touched by this Code, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and MENC: The National Association for Music Education suggest that those involved:
1. First, attempt to resolve the situation by contacting directly the other party involved.
2. Second, attempt resolution through the local representatives of the associations involved. The local of the AFM should be accessible through directory assistance. The officers of MENC state affiliates can be found through the MENC site on the World Wide Web (www.menc.org) or by calling MENC headquarters at 1-800-336-3768.
3. Finally, especially difficult problems should be resolved through mediation. Help with this mediation is available by contacting the national offices of the AFM and MENC.
This code is a continuing agreement that will be reviewed regularly to make it responsive to changing conditions.
American Association of School Administrators
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
The Local has received numerous requests to provide free advertisement for some non-union musical organizations. In response to this, the PPMA Board approved the following motion: “The PPMA will not take advertisements from performing organizations that do not file any contracts or have an agreement with an AFM Local.” The exception to this would be an educational organization.
Employee Free Choice Act
The Executive Board of the PPMA endorsed the EFCA at our January meeting. It was recently introduced in Congress and President Obama has said that he will sign it if it reaches his desk. It would greatly simplify the steps that employees have to take to form a union and to be recognized by an employer. One of the most important features of the Act is the ability of employees to choose whether or not to unionize by signing authorization cards, known as “card check.” Currently the NLRB must supervise a secret ballot election in order for workers to secure union representation, heavily stacking the deck in favor of employers due to the time that elapses between the request for an election and when the election can be held. During that time employers have engaged in coercion and threats to discourage their employees from seeking union representation. Contrary to what you may have seen in TV commercials or the print media, the secret ballot election would not be abolished, but the choice of having a secret ballot would be the decision of workers, not their employers. The EFCA would also dramatically increase the fines for employers who violate worker’s rights when they attempt to organize. Currently an employer can simply pay a small fine and continue their illegal activity.
Opponents of EFCA have introduced legislation called the Secret Ballot Protection Act, to supposedly safeguard worker’s rights to a secret ballot election. But it omits a critical component of EFCA which is that under the EFCA employees would get to make that decision, not management. The EFCA is a giant step forward in leveling the playing field for workers. For more information on the details of EFCA, go to www.aflcio.org.