Have you ever noticed this trend in some music teachers where they are proud that they don’t do any recruiting? What is that? It seems a strange and unknown program that needs no recruiting at all. But then, I think… Perhaps they don’t really understand recruiting. Recruiting happens in all shapes, sizes, colors, times of the year, and in ways that people don’t even think about it. Perhaps what they really mean is that they avoid putting on a big recruiting concert in the Fall/Spring and they don’t reach out to their feeders. Even thought their program might continue to survive, I don’t think this is necessarily something to be proud of. Why not reach out to your feeders? Isn’t it better to let them know that they are wanted than not? Wouldn’t it ease the transition just a bit more if the students knew for certain that the new music teacher had a place for them? I have always been interested in recruiting and this summer, I am working on a paper on recruiting attitudes. I cannot wait to see the responses and how they vary!
As we are thinking about recruiting practices, let us think about the numerous ways in which recruiting may happen during the school year:
- Concerts = Commercials
- Students = Referrals
- Community Gigs = Posters
- Teacher Attends Feeder Concert = Advertising & Branding Loyalty
- Teacher stands in hall during breaks and greets students = Grassroots Campaign
- Students tutor at Feeder School = Mentoring Referrals
- Ensemble T-Shirts = Identity Building
- Spring Trips = Incentive
- Tiny Tots Concert = Can we get a cooler commercial?!?!
And the list could go on and on and on and on of the many things that may attribute to a program’s growth or maintenance. I think people may not realize how many “recruiting” events they are really participating in whether or not they know it. Even though all of these things are great, I still think that it is not only important to recruit for your program, but I actually think it is unethical to avoid recruiting altogether.
In an increasingly transient county, my clientele changes on a fairly consistent basis. We have an influx of new students on a monthly basis into my school alone, and I can only imagine how much more other places may experience this. Many students are in the United States for the very first time and Beginning Orchestra even as a high schooler may actually be the first opportunity they have ever had to play a musical instrument. I had one student last year who had always dreamed of playing the violin but she never had the chance until she came to my school. It was only because of my recruiting campaign that she even discovered my program.
Imagine that you never knew that there was a strings/band/choir program in your school. How devastated would you have been once you discovered that other students were getting the opportunity because for whatever reason, they knew about the opportunity while you didn’t. Now, this is highly unlikely during the first offering of band/strings, because there is generally such a commotion about the first year of band/strings. But this is a very real possibility for middle and high school ensembles.
Don’t we have an obligation to offer musical experiences to any students who have a desire to do so? And don’t we have a duty to let students know that these opportunities exist in our schools? I believe that more than anything, though, we have an obligation to let them know that not only do we have those opportunities, but that we have a place for them as future members of our group.
Okay, recruiting rant over… For now