Mission and History

Music in Schools Today is a non-profit organization that supports and develops music education programs that increase student achievement.

Music nurtures the human spirit, promotes personal development, and is central to learning and the creative process. Music and the arts are as essential to a well-rounded education as literacy, math and science. Music, both in and out of the classroom, promotes physical well-being and social understanding and helps build bridges within local and global communities.

In 1980, the San Francisco Board of Education was planning to eliminate the elementary school music program. Several concerned citizens, including music critic Robert Commanday, approached Sir Yehudi Menuhin and members of the San Francisco Symphony to make a presentation to the Board. After Sir Menuhin’s inspired address, the Board gave a standing ovation and restored the music budget. San Francisco Instrumental and Theatrical for Youth Fund was formed by members of the original coalition shortly thereafter, including founding President Alden Gilchrist, Louise McTernan and Joan Murray. In 1983, we began funding choral programs in the San Francisco public schools.

In 1989, we changed our name to Music in Schools Today (MUST) and began supporting music programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including establishing and supporting many choral, instrumental and comprehensive arts programs. MUST responded to changing school needs by increasing in-school artist programs to reach 21,000 children and youth annually throughout the Bay Area, developing instrumental music, opera, theater and visual arts programs and returning to our original role in advocacy. In response to requests from teachers and parents, MUST is currently developing multicultural and ecological curricula that tie music and arts into other core school subjects like social studies and science and is establishing programs that are national in scope.

MUST champions arts education as a rich source of creativity, self-discipline and cooperation for America’s children and youth. MUST has enlisted enthusiastic supporters in the arts, business, education, government and the media to guarantee that someday every child will receive a meaningful arts education.