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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.

Recruitment and retention are 24/7/365 jobs. Every day is recruitment day and every day we retain students. And, whether we like it or not, the number one reason students drop out of a program is they have stopped enjoying the experience. When we recruit students, we want them to “play in band” or “play in orchestra.” The operative word for those young ears is “play.” They want to find enjoyment in what they are doing and the person who has the greatest control whether they are having fun in your class is you, their teacher.


Finalize the dates for 2024-2025 recruitment with your school’s administration and your local music dealer. Ask your school to publish these dates on their school calendar and to share them in any communications that are sent to the parents, school district and community. Work to make the program a “school band” or a “school orchestra” program, and not “your” band or “your” orchestra. Try to arrange a performance by first- or second-year students during a student lunch period. Create some video testimonials by students who are participating that let others know how much fun playing is and why. It’s important to remember that students recruit students — as teachers we can only facilitate the process.


Make your spring concert a musical/social event. Whether it is an outdoor cookout and concert or a family potluck/pizza party indoor concert, the combination of food, families, and a musical performance is a win-win. This is a great time to recognize every individual player — calling them by name and presenting them with a certificate, patch, or medal to signify the important role they play in the program. These are your school’s musical all-stars. Invite your principal to say a few words and encourage the other directors in your school’s orbit to be in attendance so you can introduce them as well. Make it a celebration for the hard work and commitment your students have demonstrated all year. Take lots of pictures and video and use them in future recruitment efforts.


Arrange for a classroom teacher appreciation day. Solicit help from parents and have coffee, juice, donuts, yogurt, fresh fruit, and other snacks waiting for the teachers when they arrive to school one day. Do not announce it in advance — make it surprise. Create some banners that are signed by all your music students thanking the teachers for supporting their participation. A small token of appreciation will go a long way to create a feeling of esprit de corps at your school.


Check below to see if the Music Achievement Council team is presenting one of our engaging sessions at a conference near you.

Massachusetts MEA, Worcester, MA
5 S.M.A.R.T. Ideas to RETAIN THIS YEAR’S Beginners: a Primer for High School and Middle School Directors
March 22nd
1:00 PM
Hilton Garden AB

Pennsylvania MEA, Erie, PA
Keynote: But for Music Education
April 18th
9:00 AM
Bayfront Convention Center

5 S.M.A.R.T. Ideas to RETAIN THIS YEAR’S Beginners: a Primer for High School and Middle School Directors
April 18th
1:30 PM
Bayfront Convention Center

Wishing you and your students all the best!

Dr. Charles T. Menghini
President Emeritus, VanderCook College of Music, Chicago, IL
Co-Author, Essential Elements Band Method, Hal Leonard LLC
Educational Member, Music Achievement Council, NAMM
Host, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends