WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2002 — Sesame Street’s Elmo made his first-ever appearance before Congress alongside NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond today at a public hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

The pair testified in support of school music education and asked for $2 million in federal funding to help make sure every child has access to quality music instruction.

The event marked the first time in NAMM’s 100-year history that the association spoke before Congress to elevate music-making into the national spotlight and secure funds needed to protect school music programs nationwide.

Elmo, a three-and-a-half year old Muppet, spoke on behalf of children everywhere about the way music makes him feel and helps him learn.

“Elmo loves to sing and to dance and to make music with all his friends on Sesame Street,” Elmo said. “It helps Elmo learn ABCs and makes it easier for Elmo to remember things. Sometimes it makes Elmo excited, and sometimes it calms Elmo down—Elmo’s teacher really likes that! My friend Joe Lamond says some kids don’t have music in school. That makes Elmo sad.”

The $2 million request includes $1 million for the International Foundation for Music Research, a NAMM affiliate that funds academic research into the beneficial effects of music making, and $1 million to support initiatives such as VH1 Save the Music, aimed at restoring school music programs.

“We are very concerned about the loss of school music programs throughout the country,” Lamond said. “Over half of the schools in Chicago have no music programs. In Baltimore, there are 133 elementary schools; in 1999, only 13 had instrumental music. Ninety percent of Baltimore schools had no music at all. Only 25 percent of all eighth graders have the opportunity to participate in a music class according to the most recent NAEP assessment in the arts.”

Joe Lamond and Elmo addressed the fact that music education is a vital core subject, not an optional elective.

“Research indicates that music education dramatically enhances a child’s ability to solve complex math and science problems, and scientists believe there is a link to literacy skills as well,” Lamond explained. “Students who participate in music programs score significantly higher on standardized tests while at the same time developing self-discipline, communication and teamwork skills.”

Lamond cited the success of schools like Public School 96 in East Harlem where the number of students reading at grade level increased from 13 percent to 71 percent within 18 months of restoring the dormant music program.

According to Lamond, the true intent of the recently enacted federal education bill—“No Child Left Behind”—cannot be realized without full, universal access to quality school music education.

“Just like others in the business community, NAMM members understand that a quality education is the primary means of preparing our young people to succeed in the business world and in life,” he stated. “We are committed to making sure that no child is left behind.”

The 17-member House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education is chaired by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio). Elmo’s appearance took place at the invitation and with the assistance of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-California).

NAMM, founded in 1901, is the international voice of the music products industry, representing more than 7,700 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and publishers in the United States and more than 85 other countries. NAMM is dedicated to growing the global music products industry through the development of groundbreaking research, programs and partnerships that create more active music makers worldwide.

For more information about NAMM’s ongoing government relations efforts on behalf of the music products industry, please visit www.namm.com.

Press release used with NAMM permission.
Photos by the Associated Press.