The Yellow Board
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Re: Recruitment tips?
First of all, I'm sorry you're going through this. Music education is a tough field. I've had kids at state now and yada yada and we still go through stuff like this. It doesn't ever really change unless you fall into one of those rare, wonderful places where your administration does everything they can to make sure you have a fair chance at success. If I was in your shoes, I would restart the entire culture. If you have outside of school rehearsals, do you really need them? When you compete, do you do too many contests? Time commitment becomes one of the biggest factors towards a child's decision to stick with a program. What about your musical expectations? Are they inline with state requirements or above? If they're above you may be scaring them away. What's your demeanor on the podium like? Are you somebody that people want to be around or do you turn them off? What about your show design.....is it pleasing to audiences where you get reactions or does it confuse them to where they get mocked for what they do? The middle school situation sounds like a thing but ultimately you are the captain of that program. How it does will be because you were humble enough to step back and learn from others or it will be what it is because you decided to be stubborn and stuck with your principles. Recruiting people that have quit band is so hard on the culture of your program. I'm worried for you in that positions are often held because of our ability to keep things calm. Having less than 20 people in your band will bring you and your administration unwanted attention. I'd ask them about possibilities in the future to reward the band kids for their hard work. Having taken band kids to state marching, I've seen kids quit band because they were disappointed in how valued they were in making state. It's up to us to garner an environment that encourages students and makes it "bigger than life" for them. Find people in your area who are amazingly good at recruitment and student quality and have conversations about what it takes.