September's More to Start Fewer to Quit-Tips to Help Grow Your Music Program

In This Article:

Middle School children standing by a school bus with musical instruments

Recruitment Tips

As you recruit students for the start of the year, the aspect of personal communication cannot be overemphasized. Get on the phone and call parents. Let them know their child has great musical potential and that you have a special place for them in your program. Mass meetings and recruitment nights work for only a percentage of students and parents. Nothing takes the place of personal communication. Yes, you will get some rejections, but you will also pick up some valuable additions to your program.
Once your students have decided to join band or orchestra, put up a photo of every new student with their instrument on a bulletin board or video screen welcoming them to the program. Then create one blank space with the message: “We still have a place for YOU!” Let the students who have joined know there is still room for their friends to join. The little efforts are the ones that yield the big results. 

Retention Tips

Record your students early and often both individually and in ensemble settings. It is especially important to record your students when they sightread a new piece of music. Then in a month or so, record them again. Then play the latest recording and the first recording. Letting them hear the progress will send a strong message of how much their hard work is paying off. Do the same thing the class session after your performance. Play the performance recording and then play that recording you made the first time they played the work. Be ready for a lot of laughter, giggles, smiles and a whole roomful of personal pride for a job well done. 

Success Tips

Keep a notebook by your desk or in your classroom and write down any and all ideas you have as the year progresses. Write down things that went well, or things you will do differently next time. Log those moments where students really excelled. Keep a list of instruments or equipment you may need when budget time rolls around. We all have so many wonderful thoughts and ideas that get away because we simply forget to remember.
Also, take a few moments to write a personal note to your principal or administrator and all of your students’ classroom teachers thanking them for their support for your school’s music program. Let them know you are always available should an issue arise where you can help in its resolution — and a box of cookies or a dozen doughnuts in the teacher’s lounge will go a long way in letting them know you value them as colleagues and friends. 

This month's MSFQ tips come from Dr. Charles T. Menghini, President Emeritus, VanderCook College of Music and Co-Author of Essential Elements Band Method. 

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