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 you recruit students for the start of the year, the aspect of personal communication cannot be overemphasized. Get on the phone and call parents. Let them know their child has great musical potential and that you have a special place for them in your program. Mass meetings and recruitment nights work for only a percentage of students and parents. Nothing takes the place of personal communication. Yes, you will get some rejections, but you will also pick up some valuable additions to your program.
Once your students have decided to join band or orchestra, put up a photo of every new student with their instrument on a bulletin board or video screen welcoming them to the program. Then create one blank space with the message: “We still have a place for YOU!” Let the students who have joined know there is still room for their friends to join. The little efforts are the ones that yield the big results.
Record your students early and often both individually and in ensemble settings. It is especially important to record your students when they sightread a new piece of music. Then in a month or so, record them again. Then play the latest recording and the first recording. Letting them hear the progress will send a strong message of how much their hard work is paying off. Do the same thing the class session after your performance. Play the performance recording and then play that recording you made the first time they played the work. Be ready for a lot of laughter, giggles, smiles and a whole roomful of personal pride for a job well done.
Keep a notebook by your desk or in your classroom and write down any and all ideas you have as the year progresses. Write down things that went well, or things you will do differently next time. Log those moments where students really excelled. Keep a list of instruments or equipment you may need when budget time rolls around. We all have so many wonderful thoughts and ideas that get away because we simply forget to remember.
Also, take a few moments to write a personal note to your principal or administrator and all of your students’ classroom teachers thanking them for their support for your school’s music program. Let them know you are always available should an issue arise where you can help in its resolution — and a box of cookies or a dozen doughnuts in the teacher’s lounge will go a long way in letting them know you value them as colleagues and friends.Wishing you a great school year!
Sincerely, 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
More about Dr. Menghini
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.
Charlie is Co-Author of the Essential Elements Band Method published by Hal Leonard, LLC and is an Educational Member of the Music Achievement Council for NAMM. He also hosts his own podcast, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends available on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
Active as a speaker, clinician and conductor around the nation, Menghini 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. Dr. Menghini is a past recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Midwest Clinic for his life’s work as a band director, teacher and educator.