It’s a community thing. There are a few communities out there that are great “band towns”. Then, there are a few “bandwagon band” towns…meaning when they’re doing well, the support is there. Then there are some “band doesn’t matter no matter what towns”. I’ve worked at all of these places. In the latter, it doesn’t matter what you or the coaches say, it’s an uphill battle to keep kids in band. You compete against travel baseball which isn’t even offered in school.
So, in order to build that culture in your band hall, and you extended band families, you have to try and build up the culture in your community. Here are some way we attempt to do it.
1. We pick crowd pleasing shows for our marching programs. We attempt to entertain our crowd every Friday night. The kids get a good pop from the crowd, they gain a little confidence and buy in, then they sell it a little more each week until we get to contests and now their completely bought in and the pops get bigger on Fridays.
2. Build strong relationships with your coaches, the sport booster program, and other “local people of importance”. When those people start posting on social media about how the band did at contest (or even better, the halftime show at a football game), the rest of the community starts to accept band as something else.
3. Support your kids that do other things. Go to volleyball games, congratulate a football player after the game on a big play, hang out at the baseball and softball parks on game nights, go to the FFA banquet, go to confirmation…the parents notice.
4. Get out of the band hall during your “conference” period. Get to know the other teachers.
5. Start a pep band, make it a “leadership” or a volunteer band. Take them places like a home volleyball game against the local rival and play when you can as loud as you can. It’s well known in our town that our volleyball team is undefeated when the band is there. Take them to the retired teachers meeting to do a little concert in the spring, or the elementary school. Get with the chamber of commerce and local veterans groups and ask for performance opportunities. Make other performances happen. We played at HEB in the store when they had their “back to school” sale. Then we did some flash mob antics in the store. IT WAS ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA before we left.
6. Start a Facebook page, twitter account, Instagram page, TikTok account, and whatever else is prevalent in your community. And sell every accomplishment your kids have. PROMOTE YOUR CONCERTS. Go LIVE from performances. When we marched at Disney world, we went Facebook Live, we had 200 people watch live, and 5000 views before we got back to the hotel. We are a 3A school in a small town.
It won’t happen overnight, but never accept that way things are, do the work for the kids, and they’ll do the work for themselves.