Progressive Music Advocates for Music Education in Washington, D.C.

On Capitol Hill, Despotakis re-enforced importance of new federal law and its inclusion of music education for all children

 Pittsburgh area business leader, Mark Despotakis, along with 91 other music industry leaders and artists made up a delegation of advocates furthering the case that all children deserve quality, comprehensive school music education programs during the National Association of Music Merchants’ (NAMM) Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In, May 23-26, 2016. With the recent passage of the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the delegation met with their Members of Congress in support of the passage of the bill and to reinforce the importance of music being listed as part of a well-rounded education for all children at the State-level.IMG_2228

“While the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act shifts much of the power and decision making back to the states, it’s still crucial for us to visit Washington, DC to reinforce the value of music and arts education,” Despotakis noted. “Decisions around the law’s implementation are still being discussed in Washington, so it’s important for our voice to be a continued presence.”

The Advocacy week began on Monday, May 23 with a Day of Service. Progressive Music and other members from the group, including New York Yankee-turned Latin GRAMMY-nominated guitarist Bernie Williams, donated musical instruments and accessories and provided three hours of music education taught by master teachers on drum, ukulele and guitar lessons to students at D.C.’s Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy.

That evening, Despotakis joined The NAMM Foundation in awarding the SupportMusic Champion Award to Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) for his life-long commitment to music education. On Tuesday, he prepared for his efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training, during which he and fellow music industry leaders were apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on ESSA and the current political climate. Despotakis was also trained on ways to continue state-level advocacy efforts for music and arts education in Pennsylvania.

As part of the trip, Despotakis met with members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation about the importance of music education and the support needed to insure each student has the opportunity to learn music in school; a message that Despotakis will continue to advocate for at home.

Progressive Music's Mark Despotakis with NAMM's Jessica Cortez at the Music Education Congressional Reception.
Progressive Music’s Mark Despotakis with NAMM’s Jessica Cortez at the Music Education Congressional Reception.

In addition to the advocacy work, Despotakis was part of a special welcoming committee for Turnaround Arts, a program under the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. At a reception held on Tuesday, May 24, Despotakis honored a variety of artists, including Smokey Robinson, Alfre Woodard, John Lloyd Young, Carla Dirlikov, Keb’ Mo’, among others, for their work in arts education advocacy, of which, music education is a core topic. Each artist was recognized with a SupportMusic Award from The NAMM Foundation for his or her support of this effort.

Progressive Music has long been a proponent of music and arts education. Despotakis serves as chair for The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association advocacy and public policy council and Progressive Music is a steering committee member of the Pennsylvania Arts Education Network. NAMM and Progressive Music agree that every student regardless of background, socioeconomic status or zip code deserves a quality music education taught by certified music educators.

About Progressive Music 

Progressive Music is a business with a mission to enrich the quality of life serving as a cultural and community center for all who make music for a living or personal enjoyment, regardless of age of ability. Progressive Music is the link between the public and suppliers of quality musical merchandise. The Progressive Music staff are professionals whose expertise assist, guide, and motivate people in the selection of music industry products as well present music education to the public through lessons, seminars and advocacy. Progressive Music is committed to their products with an experienced and knowledgeable service center.  To learn more, visit or visit Progressive Music on FacebookTwitter or YouTube.

About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 10,300 member companies located in 102 countries. NAMM events and members fund the NAMM Foundation‘s efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on FacebookTwitter