Recruiting Students for Music ProgramsTodd Overbeck
Recruiting new students is vital to every music program and can have a tremendous impact on its success. And, if you have been a Music Director for a couple of years, you know you have to be prepared to show students and parents the magical wonders of music. Even if your school has a great music program, it is still important to do some marketing and promoting. All of this takes time and a lot of energy, but it’s well worth the effort when recruiting students for music programs. Don’t expect students to just sign up for your music program or flock to you because of one announcement. Students and parents have to witness the band and be told of the wonderful benefits and rewards that come along with it. Keep in mind, you are not selling the idea of joining your music program, you are doing what you have been trained to do all along: Music Education!
Here are some pointers that have been proven successful for Music Directors in the recruiting process:
- Get the word out. Have the school’s Art Department design a poster to promote the band/choir/orchestra and get some posters up. Fellow Artists love to help out! Make sure to include the poster in the school’s newsletter and in other school announcements and social media. Have a couple of seniors post a video of their experience with the program and the awesome benefits and friendships they have made. Or, have those seniors give a short, fun performance, playing their instruments or singing a popular song.
- Invite the students (and parents if possible) to a live and engaging experience with the music program. Show your group playing/singing entertaining music and let others see them having fun. Current performers are proud to show off their skills and instruments. If a student gets to see someone they know playing/singing and having a good time, that can leave such a positive impression. After a performance, have an interactive session where the current musicians mingle with possible recruits. Let prospective musicians hold instruments, or try a couple notes.
- Not only do students have to be excited about the opportunity, but parents have to be educated as well. Use the influence of those awesome, hard-working Music Parents. They can help by talking about the program’s activities and benefits to other parents who share the same values and are looking for opportunities to help their own children grow. Music parents hardly ever get the credit they deserve, but a lot of them work very hard to help the music program and are pretty proud of what they are doing. This is motivation for the music parents, too, because more musicians joining the group can lead to parents getting more help for that next big show or trip. The eagerness is there…just point it in the right direction.
- Attitude: As the Music Director, you have to embrace positivism. You want to be a great director, but you are also the ambassador for the music department. Smile, be fun, engaging, exciting, energized, and embrace the school and the community. Being known as a fun teacher will quickly be noticed by students, who already have enough challenges and intimidating things going on in their lives. Being inviting and welcoming goes a long way with students.
- Collect Information. Put together a little bit of material about your music program to send with students. If possible, hand out an inquiry form and ask if the student might be interested in being a part of your program. If so, what instrument would they like to play, or would they like to sing? Collect as much info as you can so you have a way to follow up with the student (and student’s parents – get the parent’s email too) for possible interest in your program. Students have a lot going on and following up with a student that is undecided could make a big difference.
- Make sure to involve as many of the school’s staff as you can. A principal might help with an important announcement about the music program, and if there are fellow teachers who are/were also into music, they might offer leads on students that have the qualities of a great singer or musician.
Hopefully, these tips will help bring students to your next instrument trial, where life-long passions get ignited and musicians are born!