MusicEd: Mentor Minute
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When it comes to promoting your music program, most directors shy toward doing too little rather than too much.

After all, was that in the job description? Yet, if we want to create a following of faithful advocates, making the effort to build these relationships through advocacy, promotion, and marketing should be a priority. In music education, we call this act of self-promotion “advocacy.” In the business world, we call it “marketing.” Let’s look at some ways that you can build awareness, community, and a devoted following for your students and your program, regardless of what you call it.

Your website If you don’t already have a website, it’s time to build one – even a single page will do. Create a logo using Canva.com. It’s free and easy, with built-in templates for logo designs. Free builders like Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, and Wordpress make it simple and affordable. Place information about your classes, why you do what you do, and what your goals are on the homepage of the site. Add a sign-up form where visitors can join your newsletter (more on that later), and a calendar to view upcoming events. You can embed your Facebook feed right onto the page. Don’t have a Facebook page? Well then…

Social media Leverage the story-telling power of social media.

Need ideas for what to post? Ask yourself:

• What happened in your classroom today?

• What funny thing did your students do?

• What are you grateful for this week?

These topics are ideal for social media. Aim for 80 percent storytime and 20 percent business. Prevent overwhelm and pick just one primary platform. Frequently invite your stakeholders to make it a priority. I recommend utilizing Instagram for content creation, as it can automatically publish to Facebook as well. Facebook provides a Creator Studio to simplify creating, sharing, and scheduling posts. Speaking of easy, there’s an online marketing option that’s even easier than social media. It’s…

Email Ideally, you have three email lists: students, parents, and public. At minimum, a monthly newsletter goes out to these lists. This is regularity of information builds predictability, which is key for building the relationships. For example: do you need $200 to participate in that Randall Standrige colloquium? If you’ve done your job to build relationships, simply send an email explaining the need, and it will likely be funded. Utilize your website signup form to collect addresses. Have a privacy policy page and provide a way for them to easily opt-out or unsubscribe. Ask your admin if you can use an email service like MailChimp, which is free and intuitive while ensuring legal compliance. If you enjoy face-to-face interaction, you can also do some...

Networking How many nonprofits are in your town? I’d wager there are hundreds, even in a small community. Most of these nonprofit organizations host some type of annual fundraising event. These events are not only fun to attend, they are a wonderful place to meet influencers in your community. The people who attend these types of events are the ideal people to be community stakeholders in your music program. Should you need them, it is these community members that make the most powerful advocates for your program. Getting involved with your local performing ensembles is also a fantastic way to meet community members who are ideal supporters of your program. Speaking of people who are supportive of your program...

Concerts I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: you need to leverage your captive concert audience. Use performances as opportunities to publicly celebrate your successes, announce upcoming events, and demonstrate the needs of your program. Stay focused on your students and it won’t feel like you’re the center of attention, or ask a parent or student to do the talking. Use this time to promote the good work you facilitate your students to do. Leverage the opportunity to build your email lists, your social media following, and your booster groups. Don’t have a booster organization? Then maybe you should start with having a...

Parent night Most instrumental educators elect to host a parent night for incoming students, yet how often do we have an informational opportunity for returning students, or those who are new to the program? Hosting an annual parent night is a great marketing tool. Create an event that the parents will want to come to, that becomes a tradition. Give out prizes, offer refreshments, have a small ensemble perform, give away swag, sell branded merchandise, or show a clip video of your students’ experiences from the past year. Offer the option of live streaming the event so that those who can’t make it can watch from wherever they are.

Any combination of these actions will help you establish a more robust following of supporters, while creating a culture your students will be proud of. Remember: you are building lasting and powerful relationships. You’re ensuring your supporters and your students feel that they are part of something important, because they are. With Music In Our Schools Month in March, now is the perfect time to take action. Create a logo, build a website, send emails, leverage your concerts, network, or host a parent night. These could be some of the most important activities you undertake which will in turn facilitate your ability to do what you were hired to do: teach music.

An experienced K-8 music educator, Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, manage, and grow thriving school music programs and have long and happy careers. She holds a bachelor of music, a master of business administration, and is currently pursuing a doctor of education in instructional design degree. Elisa uses her vast and diverse skillset to help nonprofits, businesses, and music educators around the world.



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