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More to Start Fewer to Quit - Issue 27

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

This month's MSFQ tips come from Angela Ammerman, adjunct Professor of Music Education at George Mason University.


As the school year comes to an end, teachers often search for meaningful activities and resources to continue building their programs. The summer can be one of the best times of the year to prepare for recruiting additional students for the fall. Here are a few activities to consider including in your bag of tricks.

  • Create Teacher Posters with Instruments & Singing - Invite the most popular teachers in your school to your music room and ask them to pose with the instruments most needed in your program! If you need more violas, make sure you get them to pose with a viola or two! Need an extra tuba player? Ask the favorite coach to be in a picture with a tuba. Have these photos printed and plaster them all over the school for this coming school year! Make sure you also have one hanging in the teacher’s classroom!

  • Schedule a Strategic Planning Meeting - Gather up the biggest stakeholders for your program and invite them over to ask for their help in continuing to build up your program. A few key stakeholders might include feeder teachers, parents with multiple children in the program or parents who are highly invested, local music dealers with a vested interest, school counselors, and fellow music teachers. Together, compile a recruitment calendar with events, outreach, and simple campaigns to build the program from the elementary school to the high school.


  • Follow Up on Anyone Missing from Your Roster for Next Year - Simply compare your roster from this past year with the roster for next year and that’s it! Reach out immediately to those whose names are missing and let them know that you want them back in the program.

    • BONUS: Send a quick text to any feeder programs to see if they will check the list for any missing students who haven’t yet matriculated! Be sure to get their contact information and reach out to them individually as well!

  • If you haven’t already, create a social media page and start posting pictures and videos from this past school year to showcase the wonderful things happening in your program! (Be sure to check for permission first.)

  • As you begin to program for your upcoming students, consider selecting pieces that you KNOW they can prepare successfully. Select culturally relevant pieces that will appeal to all of your students and include something just for fun that they will. remember for the long haul! The more that students love what they play, the more they will want to KEEP playing!


As we approach the end of the school year, consider ways to keep students engaged up until the very last day! Here are some proven methods for full-class engagement, even on the craziest of days!

  1. Provide the briefest instructions (think: 30 seconds…) before getting right back into the music.

  2. Speak in rhythm as you give instruction.

  3. Amp up your pacing so that no student is bored or unengaged.

  4. Limit announcements to 2 minutes max. (Anything else can be put into an email.)

  5. Talk less. Play the music that they enjoy most.

  6. Leave the podium to walk around your room at least once every 20 minutes.

  7. Provide a reflection activity to remind them of how meaningful the year has been in making music.

  • Create a handout that asks students to complete 5 sentence stems that start with, “Music makes the difference because. . .” Students should have their names recorded on their submissions but to ensure honest feedback, let them know that these will be kept anonymous.

  • Distribute a 3 x 5 card to each student and ask them to think about how making music makes them feel. Collect cards and build a word cloud from the responses.

  • Make time to enjoy the great moments from this past school year. Reflect on a wonderful year together with your student musicians and let them all know how excited you are for them to continue in their music-making journeys!

Thanks, and Happy Summering!

Angela Ammerman

Dr. Ammerman serves as an adjunct Professor of Music Education at George Mason University where she supervises student teachers and teaches String Methods, Lab Orchestra, and Aural Skills. She is the author of The Music Teacher’s Guide to Engaging English Language Learners and The Music Teacher’s Guide to Recruitment and Retention, both available through GIA Publications.

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