Maximize Your Recruitment

Lesley Schultz • April 2023String Section • April 2, 2023

Spring is in the air, and with spring for most programs comes recruitment for the newest musicians in your program. Recruitment is vitally important because without solid recruitment our programs would cease to exist fairly quickly and make us prone to being cut. Here are a few tips to refresh your recruitment and hopefully gain more beginner musicians. 

First, consider having a kickoff event. In our district there is a during the school day event that brings in all the 5th graders for a concert where they get to see the band and orchestra in action. This gets the students introduced to what band and orchestra are and excited for the recruitment process to begin. This may work slightly differently in different places, but a large kickoff event lets everyone know it is recruitment time and it is time to sign up for music ensembles.

Next, work with your elementary music teachers to set up a time to come in and speak with the grade being recruited. This is a time to introduce all the instruments the students would be able to sign up for, and a chance to hand out a flier that goes home to the students’ adults explaining the program and how to sign up. Our department has made a video where the students get to see the instruments and hear them, and on the flier they get to mark their favorites. This also gives the students a smaller venue in which to ask questions. 

Finally, have a sign-up event in the evening, where students and adults can come in and find out more about the program and ultimately sign up. This is a good time to hold an “instrument petting zoo” type of situation where students get to try the different instruments under supervision of teachers and high school student volunteers. Students get to try their favorites they marked and decide with the guidance of teachers what would be the best fit for them. If students and/or adults aren’t sure, then there is support in talking to the teachers to help make decisions. If there are instruments you put enrollment limits on, basses for example, make it clear in the flier that goes home that some instruments have limits on enrollment due to instruments at school, and those instruments are somewhat first come, first served. If families cannot make it to the signup event, work with your elementary music teachers to help sign up any students who missed the event.   

As always, make sure there are social media and/or newsletter blasts that go out about the events, and there is excitement around the entire process. Recruitment looks a little different for everyone, but the time to think about next year is now. Keeping your recruitment fresh will help families know what to expect and want to join the program and remain involved over the course of their student’s journey. 

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia University and her Master of Music Education degree from Ohio University. Lesley is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Lesley keeps an active performing schedule around the state of Ohio, performing with several regional symphonies on viola. She is a member of TI:ME (Technology In Music Education) and serves as the Ohio Chapter President and on the National Conference Committee. 

In her copious amounts of spare time, she enjoys knitting, watching West Virginia Mountaineer sports and spending time with her family and making TikToks about her cats.

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