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More to Start Fewer to Quit - Issue 15

more to start fewer to quit recruiting and retention ideas & tips for music educators

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.


As soon as school is out for the summer, use this 10-step approach to having your best recruitment year yet.

  1. If not already done, meet with your administrator and set the dates for the 2023-24 recruitment season.

  2. Contact your music dealer and inform them of your dates and discuss ways they can assist you in the recruitment process.

  3. Ask a few parents to write a “testimonial” on the positive impact joining band or orchestra has had on their child.

  4. Get the names and addresses of the parents of all the members of next year’s recruitment class.

  5. Write a personal letter to each family. Include how excited you are about the potential of having their child participate in your program, a testimonial or two from the parents (see 3 above) and the dates of your recruitment season. Write a personal “hand-written” note at the bottom of each letter and mail them.

  6. Send a reminder letter with another testimonial about a month before school begins.

  7. Write and send a press release to local media announcing band or orchestra recruitment dates and the process parents need to follow to get their students to sign up for band. Include another testimonial in the press release. Make sure your list includes newspapers, shoppers, radio, television as well as utilizing social media forums. This may also allow you to reach any families who are new to your school district.

  8. If you want to really be successful, call each parent over the summer to introduce yourself and let them know how interested you are in having their child join your band or orchestra program.

  9. Finalize all the necessary logistics: facilities, set-up, support documents, refreshments, volunteers (ask parents of students who are in your program to be available to talk to other parents), arrange for high school musicians in performance attire, invite and inform middle and high school directors and confirm the dates with your music dealer.

  10. Sign them up!


Start each class session with band (concert or jazz) or string (orchestral) music playing when students enter the rehearsal space. Make your playlist varied so all the instruments your students play are featured. Once class is ready to go, tell them a little about what they were listening to, and play another 30 seconds. Then, let them know with a big smile how much you enjoyed that piece. In a recent interview at the NAMM show in Anaheim, John Fogerty, the original lead songwriter and singer of the band Credence Clearwater Revival said, “My music teacher’s absolute joy about music inspired me.” You can do the same for your students.


I recommend that every music teacher read the book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us, by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross. This book will validate why you teach music. Once you finish the book, share it with your colleagues, tell parents about it, and buy a copy for your administrators.Wishing you and your students a wonderful summer break!

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


DR. CHARLES T. MENGHINI is President Emeritus of VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Menghini served as Professor of Music and Director of Bands from 1994 – 2017. Prior to his appointment at VanderCook, he spent 18 years as a high school band director in Missouri and Kansas where his bands earned national acclaim, performing as such venues as the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Charlie has his own podcast: Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends available on Apple podcast, is co-author of the Essential Elements Band Method published by Hal Leonard and serves as an Educational Member of the Music Achievement Council for NAMM.

Menghini is active as a speaker, clinician and conductor around the nation. He frequently presents at state and national music education conferences, works with teachers and school districts in a variety of forums and continues to write for professional magazines and journals.

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