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MAC to the Rescue

Josh Harris • Archives • January 21, 2008

Of the many organizations created to aid music educators, few offer such direct assistance as the Music Achievement Council. With the singular goal of promoting school band and orchestra participation, MAC has updated and re-released their non-commercial Practical Guide for Recruitment and Retention.

Rick Young, Yamaha Corporate VP and the Council’s chairman, recently took some time to speak with SBO about MAC’s latest publication and its practical applications for music educators.

School Band & Orchestra: First off, can you tell me a little bit about the MAC?
Rick Young: The Music Achievement Council is an action-oriented non-profit organization sponsored by NABIM (the National Association of Band Instrument Manufacturers), NASMD (the National Association of School Music Dealers), and NAMM (the International Music Products Association.). The Council is comprised of three representatives from NABIM, three from NASMD, and one from NAMM. The purpose of the council is to promote instrumental music participation, with particular emphasis on producing materials that encourages students to join and stay in band and orchestra.

MAC was formed in 1983 and reorganized in 1990 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

SBO: What, specifically, does MAC aim to do for teachers?
RY: What we do primarily is research educator needs and then find ways to write and publish materials and distribute them to educators, filling those needs.

The educator has a strong responsibility to create a learning environment for all students, and upon graduating from college, most teachers are ready to do just that. However, one roadblock to successfully creating that setting can be an educator who is not doing an effective job of recruiting and retaining students. The development of school bands and orchestras is crucial because those programs truly provide the foundation for most young musicians. Students who take clarinet or sax may also evolve into guitar players. A lot of trombone and tuba players also become bass players, because they read the same clefs. So, the more budding musicians teachers can bring into the classroom and keep, the more musicians and those who deeply appreciate music there will be in our society.

SBO: I see there’s really a lot of synergy between the business and educational impacts of student enrollment in music programs: more music students means more business for music instrument dealers, but it also means that music programs themselves are thriving.
RY: That’s the key. The key to the whole school music program is getting as many students involved as possible and then, once you have them, retaining as many students as possible. We certainly understand that right now not everyone will take band or orchestra, although every child should have that opportunity and that is what we all work toward.

SBO: Let’s talk about MAC’s most recent publication, A Practical Guide for Recruitment and Retention. How can educators use this in their programs?
RY: This publication was written exclusively for instrumental music educators. Young teachers leave of college knowing how to conduct a band. They know how to rehearse a section. They know how to instruct an individual lesson. They know music theory and composition. However, in too many cases when they begin their careers, they haven’t learned how to recruit. They don’t know how to get the community involved or work with the principal and the administration. It is a yearlong process. The implementation may take shape in the spring or the fall, but to properly prepare to have a solid program, teachers need to be working on different aspects of recruiting the whole year round.

The Practical Guide for Recruitment and Retention comes with a CD which includes the entire contents of the book, all of the sample forms, and a sample recording of the first performance of a beginning band that has only been together for about six or eight weeks. It’s quite interesting because the kids only play three or four notes, either done as a group or individually. It’s a great way to pique the students’ interest by getting them to know the amazing feeling of doing something together as an ensemble. The first performance can also be found on the MAC Web site, www.musicachievementcouncil.org.

This guide is a series of comprehensive, step-by-step suggestions for all the critical functions that music educators need to accomplish apart from teaching music, from preparing and organizing recruitment, to-do checklists, sample forms, ideas for garnering public support, explaining why students might leave the program and suggestions for preventing that it’s all in the Guide and CD.

SBO: Sounds pretty thorough. Does MAC also present workshops or seminars?
RY: One of the Council’s latest projects is providing sessions at state music educator meetings. For example, one of our Council members, Greg Way, has presented to the educators in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta. We have another industry veteran working with us, Danny Rocks, who is a professional presenter. We hired him to present this guide and demonstrate how important recruiting and retention are to the overall health of a school’s music program. In addition to Canada, we just presented in Wisconsin this October and we’re going to be at the Illinois MEA in January, TMEA in February. and the Iowa MEA in May. We’re just beginning this session work, and it’s in cooperation with NASMD and the Music Achievement Council. In addition, and most importantly, the local NASMD dealers in each State are involved, as well.

SBO: It’s certainly important to get the word out. And MAC publications can be ordered from the Web site?
RY: That’s correct, www.musicachievementcouncil.org.

Another publication that can be found on our site is Tips for Success, which is a series of focused articles written to address the many challenges found by young educators, especially, but also which may also apply to teachers of all levels of experience. Many different topics are covered, like building support among the administration, how to obtain community support, how to maintain discipline in the classroom all the things that teachers may not have the opportunity to learn in college. These are situations which, if not properly implemented at the beginning of a career, can really be a detriment; we’ve seen that some teachers come into a first or second job and start off on the wrong foot and, after a year or two, they’re gone because of a problem with the community or the administration. These materials are specifically aimed at helping educators do the very best they can.

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