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More to Start Fewer to Quit - Issue 28

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

This issue of the More to Start, Fewer to Quit (MSFQ) tips comes from Dr. Craig Aarhus, Associate Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Mississippi State University.


Confirm your spring recruiting class. If your recruiting took place at the end of the school year, make sure to follow up with the parents of those students with important information about instrument testing, instrument rental, and other needed supplies for the start of the year (method book, reeds, oil, etc.). Check with your counselor to make sure that your new and returning students are scheduled into the appropriate level classes. If your recruiting will take place after the school year begins, plan to bring along more experienced students to help demonstrate the various instruments. Younger students look up to their older peers in many ways and seeing/hearing an older student playing a really fun piece on the trombone might inspire some of them to want to do the same. You could also have your more experienced students play a fun, ensemble piece together or the school fight song.



Organize your calendar of events and performances. Use this time in June and July to work with your school administration to get next year’s dates confirmed. Students and parents will appreciate having a well-planned yearly calendar ahead of time to help avoid conflicts. Making last minute major adjustments on a regular basis not only creates chaos but also negatively impacts retention.



Make a plan to showcase your students’ good work. June and July are a good time to establish an effective PR plan with the appropriate district/school personnel so that an effective pathway can be put into place to promote your students’ achievements.

Examples of this might include highlighting students who are selected for an honor ensemble or all-state group, your marching band’s performance at an area competition, your ensemble’s performance at a state concert evaluation, or your students giving back to your community in some way. The key is to make sure the focus is always on the students and their successes so that you can demonstrate how your program is an important contributor to the overall school environment.

To get started, determine which events on your approved calendar might warrant good publicity and share that information appropriately with your school’s PR team. Is a simple informative email needed or is there specific paperwork that needs to be submitted? Once decided, be sure to document this information in your work calendar to stay on track. You want to ensure that any time a student or an ensemble has something worth sharing, it gets publicized on both traditional media and social media platforms. If your music program doesn’t already have a social media presence, take the time this month to develop it with your district’s PR team so that it is consistent with the school’s branding and follows all appropriate privacy protocols.


Dr. Craig Aarhus

Dr. Craig Aarhus is the Associate Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Mississippi State University.

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