For many marching band directors, the future of their program is riding on their ability to recruit new members. This is especially difficult considering that many school programs have music programs that start far later than other kinds of activities, such as sports or visual arts, which shortens the window of time available to get students involved in marching band. With many music programs suffering from a lack of funding, it's important now more than ever to get students excited about joining marching band. Their enthusiasm and the support from their families could keep your program alive. Here are the ways you can tackle your recruitment process to help find these kinds of members.
Organize a plan
When you embark on the recruitment process, you're also laying the groundwork for your entire program. At this step, you should be putting together a solid, organized plan that will give you all the necessary information to share with prospective band members. This will help you in the next two steps when you think of creative ways to approach recruitment and communicate the advantages of your program with students and their families.
If you only take the traditional route when you put the word out about your band, your chances of getting a response slim significantly. That means paper fliers won't cut it anymore if you're serious about recruiting new, enthusiastic members. If you're recruiting for an already-established band, make sure it's visible in the community and get prospective members to see your performance. If not, use a similar approach and get hands-on with how you recruit beginner members. Gary Gribble, for BandDirectors.com, suggested holding brief learning sessions where volunteer teachers show students basic playing and maintenance techniques for different instruments, giving the kids an opportunity to see the instruments and get excited about the band program.
Bowling Green State University's guide to recruitment and retention points out that you're not just recruiting students to your program, but you're also recruiting their families. This is why communication is so key in your recruitment process. You have to showcase the benefits to students who must then convince their parents that marching band will enrich their academic careers. When communicating with families either during recruitment or their child's time in your program, frequency and honesty are key. Parents are looking out for their child's best interest, so keeping them informed on any costs and time commitments while reminding them of marching band's assets will help bring and keep families on board.
Modernize your methods
These days it's practically impossible to avoid social media and similar technology, so embrace them. They're incomparably useful tools. Your marching band recruitment could improve immensely from an online presence. If you're visible on sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's a great opportunity to grab the attention of potential members. Additionally, when you're working on communication with students and their families, email is especially helpful. With email, you can send out monthly newsletters with relevant updates and fun anecdotes to help your retention.
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