Mike Lawson • Archives • April 1, 2002

Getting students to join the band or orchestra and then stay is a challenge unique to music directors. Math, English, social studies and language teachers rarely have to recruit students into their classrooms. Once signed up, students are expected to attend these classes. Music teachers, on the other hand, are responsible for building up their programs and keeping them sizeable, or else their programs could disappear.

So, how do directors entice students into playing in the band or orchestra in the first place? How do they let students know what to look forward to, what they might be missing if they don’t join? With other school activities and athletic programs vying for students’ attention, convincing students to take part in music can be difficult. To find out how educators address these issues, School Band and Orchestra conducted a survey of a random sampling of band and orchestra directors throughout the country. Their thoughts and ideas are reflected in this article and the accompanying graphs.

Many of the tried-and-true methods – like visiting feeder schools and demonstrating instruments to prospective students, or performing recruitment concerts for the younger grades – are very helpful to directors trying to spark student interest in the musical arts. Other frequently used methods include hosting side-by-side concerts where the high school and middle school students play together as one large ensemble; inviting younger students to visit a rehearsal of senior music students; or recruiting individual students into the ensemble. (See Recruitment/Retention Methods bar graph below .)


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