Recruiting students in your music program is even more important coming out of a very difficult school year!
In this article, let’s explore 4 ideas to bring your program up in numbers especially with new beginners.
I feel it is important for ALL of us to do as much recruiting as possible at the very beginning of this school year in order to balance the loss of last year.
Classroom Presentations to Recruit Out of Other Classes
I feel it is important for this school year to recruit out of the students who are already at the school. Last year created so many challenges that we need to not look back.
Instead use the beginning week or two of this school year to really promote your program and get some extra kids.
Here is how to go about it:
- Talk to your school administration first. Make sure they would be willing to switch student schedules around and help you out in the process.
- Talk to other teachers at your school.
- Start with teachers you know personally and with PE and other elective teachers who are not dependent on numbers (for examples some classes at my school tend to get over-filled and these teachers would love that their load is lighter)
- Prepare to visit a few other classes and talk to other kids about joining orchestra or your music program.
- You can either go to different classes yourself or prepare your class to do a quick presentation and show other students the instruments.
- Know that the presentation does not need to be advanced. If you have only brand new beginners, they can simply show the strings. What is important is that they all show enthusiasm.
- See if your students can play in the cafeteria for lunch. Have flyers about joining your music program. If your school allows it, do it at the beginning of the year as well as in the Spring right before registration time.
- See if the library would let you have a morning or two you can be there and have a “petting zoo” as the kids are using the library before school. For the petting zoo, simply have instruments opened and ready other students can see, check out, touch and then talk to them about being in your music class. It is helpful to have a kid volunteer as well.
- If you need to start class, have a very old beaten up violin (or a different instrument) and ask the librarian to keep it next to her desk. Place some cookies there as well. Students can check out the instrument, grab a cookie, grab a flyer about being in orchestra.
COOL Recruiting Idea
Here is a SUPER COOL idea you can use at the very beginning of the school year or work on it and send to elementary schools and other classes later in the year.
I am including a clip of an interview I did for my music teacher podcast with a fabulous band director who had lots of practical ideas for recruiting and fundraising. You WILL love it!
I am including a link to an interview with a band director who explains it BETTER that I could. The video is only about 4 min. Please spend a minutes, please spend some time on it. If you do please hit the like and subscribe button.
Let The Kids Help You Recruit
There is no better advertising than the word of mouth. Same goes with the schools. If kids’ friends are in orchestra and have good things to say about it, others will join.
It does take a bit longer if your program is tiny, but you can do magic by working with your students and having them be a part of the team.
How I got many students in my beginning classes?
Before assuming the position I am in right now ( I teach at two schools, middle and high school and my position is split between the two) I had a large middle school program for about 11 years. I was very happy with my work there. When I started I had about 6 students in my beginning class an three in my advanced…I know. It was tough. I was able to make it to 70 students and three different beginning classes by the time I was ready to leave.
My biggest success with recruiting came when I was working with the students and we had a cooperative effort of recruiting. I must say it wasn’t easy at first. It felt I was doing a lot of work with no success and suddenly everything opened up. So don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. I would love to write a separate article about it. But for now a few tips to start the year of:
- Make sure you always have a piece or two that students can present to others (it could be open strings, as long as they are enthusiastic about them)
- Talk to the kids themselves. Ask them to let their friends knwo about orchestra and how much fun it could be.
- Offer prices for kids who recruit others. One fun way is to have a bulletin board dedicated to recruitment. When a student recruits a younger sibling, neighbor or friend, their names gets a star on the board.
- Assign students to invite at least one friend at your concerts. Make an extra incentive for them to invite more. Talk at the concerts about joining orchestra.
Work With Your School Parent Organization
This could work well or not depending on your school in run.
- See if you local PTA or PTO would send home flyers r information about your music program
- You can offer one or two classes for free after school to the kids of the PTO parents so they see what it would feel like and can support you back.
I have had a great success going to the feeder elementary schools in the past. But at the middle school level I have not been successful, this could be just my experience.
Remember with this, you only need ONE parent who is connected and willing to tell everyone about your music program!
If you have 5th grade beginning classes though, I feel it is worth making an effort.
More Recruiting Effort Needed At The Beginning of This School Year
KNOW that every one is excited to start this year in person, both teachers and students!
Kids have been home for a year and will be excited to do extra things. So don’t loose the time at the very beginning of the school year.
Teachers have all have challenges during last year, no matter their classroom situation. They will most like want to cooperate and help your program grow.
So prepare 100%. Give an extra effort at the very beginning of the school year! You may be surprised at the results!!
The One Sure Way To Have Zero Students In Your Program
You read the article..and then you don’t do anything…
Don’t be that person!
Instead, start with classroom presentations. This will give you the most result the quickest.
Go by the tips listed, create your own as well. If this goes through and your administration does not support it, then go into the next tips.
Come back later in the semester and share your success in the comments!