Standing for “More to Start, Fewer to Quit,” MSFQ is an open-source, monthly newsletter brought to you by the Music Achievement Council. Each month, this free resource will feature a recruiting idea, retention idea, and tip for success for music educators. The goal is to provide timely and impactful ideas that allow educators to grow their programs by recruiting new students and retaining current students.
This month’s MSFQ tips come from Dr. Charles T. Menghini, President Emeritus, VanderCook College of Music and Co-Author of the Essential Elements Band Method.
Testimonials are an effective way to reinforce the importance of music education. This kind of social proof lets students and their parents hear firsthand how music is beneficial and why it’s worthwhile. To boost your recruiting efforts, solicit testimonials from current and former students and parents about their band or orchestra experiences, and ask them to talk about the benefits of being a part of your program. Get permission to include their quote (and a picture, if possible) in an upcoming letter to future students. Next, write a message to the parents of incoming students about why their child should join your music program. Include a specific call to action inviting them to attend an upcoming concert or to meet with you directly. Be sure to add the testimonials you collected, and personalize your message with a mail-merge program. Consider sending a series of follow-up messages to parents who do not respond right away.
Create a video of students talking about the best part of being in band / orchestra, their favorite piece of music, something funny about their director, or their favorite memory from this past year. Assemble these clips into a single video and show it during your spring concert. Parents will love seeing their child and students will enjoy feeling like a movie star. You can also email the video to students at the end of the school year to wish them a happy and safe summer break — they’ll be excited about the past year’s memories and will look forward to returning after the break.
While I was student teaching many years ago, the high school director created an “Honorary Director” certificate that he would present to various individuals in the city. Any time someone invited the band to play or did something for the band, he would present them with an “Honorary Director” certificate. It was presented on faux parchment paper, personalized, signed, framed, and read aloud to all when the presentation was made. I was always amazed to walk into a business and see the “Honorary Director” certificate proudly displayed. It was an inexpensive way to gain visibility while recognizing and thanking someone important. Consider creating your own “Honorary Director” certificates for special people, including administrators, business or community leaders, and other key supporters.
I wish you and your students all the best in your final concerts and the remaining months of the school year!
Dr. Charles T. Menghini