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 ( 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.
Endorsing organizations:
American Association of School Administrators
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals


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