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Leaders Build a Vision for a Brighter Future


On March 18, 2021, principals, district leaders, and advocates gathered virtually for ETM-LA’s 12th Annual Principals Leadership Conference, led by ETM-LA staff and special guests. Although the pandemic forced schools to move instruction to online learning this past year, our educational leaders and school communities have remained committed to providing their students with sequential music instruction as a core subject. Together, participants eagerly shared and planned strategic goals to successfully sustain their music and arts programs for the long-term.

Social Emotional Learning

The morning’s activities opened with an overview of the current state of music and arts education, followed by an exploration of how to advocate for music education through Social Emotional Learning (SEL) led by Dr. Scott N. Edgar (Music Education and Social Emotional Learning: The Heart of Teaching Music).

Edgar emphasized the importance of music and the critical need for SEL to be embedded in every school subject; the “lens” through which we should view instruction.

Abraham Maslow’s (1943, 1954) Hierarchy of Self-Actualization (image featured to the right) depicts the motivational theory in psychology which humans may experience five levels: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization. Music and SEL give students agency, amplifies their voices, and creates a safe space; it is, indeed, “preventative mental healthcare.”

Student Maya poignantly articulates, “In trying times, supporting one another and attempting to understand one another is vital to moving forward; music is one of the most simple and beautiful ways to do this…music brings people together.”

Dr. Jacqueline Sanderlin

Additional focused discussions and breakout sessions centered on creating connections in communities, engaging stakeholders, and building sustainable music programs. One participant shared that the conference empowered them to “focus on [building their collective] vision” and to share stories of impact in their school community.

Fellow guest speaker Dr. Jacqueline Sanderlin (Author, The Why Not Challenge; Thought Leader, Educator, Apple) presented on “Building Bridges of Unity,” offering key tools to help leaders more deeply research, reflect upon, and discover ways to further ensure that their approach stays responsive to their communities.

Despite the uncertainty of the past year, ETM-LA is grateful for all of the resilient partners in education and advocates who come alongside our mission to provide equity and access in under-resourced schools. We proudly continue to support our school and communities every step of the way. And as we look towards a brighter future, we remain steadfast in our work and advocacy for music education as a right for every student in Los Angeles County.


– Victoria Lanier, Executive Director