Have you been thinking about starting up a new strings program in your district? Look no further, for I have found answers in my articles! As you are trying to convince the stakeholders within your own community to help you get this new string program started, consider the possible benefits listed within this article.
It seems that one of the greatest concerns with starting a new orchestra program is a negative impact on enrollment in band and/or choir. Well, rejoice! Rejoice now! Gillespie, Russell, and Hamann (2014) reported an average increase in band once the new strings program was started. Additionally, 90% of the participants reported an increase in the overall enrollment in music programs within their district once a new strings program started (Gillespie et al., 2014). This is amazing news for all of those who fear the new ensemble coming in to take over the music department. I firmly believe that there should be a place for every student. If a student doesn’t enjoy singing, let’s try an instrument. Perhaps violin feels awkward for the student (been there!) and they want to try trumpet instead. Let us be happy that our students find a place within a musical ensemble! Participants within this study also believed the greatest benefit to students to be more frequent opportunities to experience the arts in general (Gillespie et al., 2014). The greatest benefit to teachers was that more students were participating in music and that there was a more comprehensive music curriculum.
We know that funding is always a major concern when starting a new program, however, only 6% of participants within this study reported a decrease in district music budgets. This would suggest that the new program did not cause financial stress to the district! Additional positive outcomes included greater support from local business and in increase in string teaching within the community. Make your comptroller’s day when you propose your new strings program with those stats!
Additional findings from the respondents included a greater likelihood of new string programs in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. Also, a whopping 59% of those surveyed were from suburban schools, while only 23% of the participants were from urban schools and 18% were from rural districts (Gillespie et al., 2014).
As we consider the insight gained from this article, please do keep in mind that all information was provided by the strings teacher. This information is incredibly helpful, however, it is important to note that the impact of a strings program may look very different from a different perspective. Still great thought, right?!
So… Now you are thinking more about starting this program, right? Well, here are a few quick action steps that you can take tonight!
- Draw up a proposal listing all of the benefits of a strings program. (Cite this article!!!)
- Gather your supporters! Administrators, community members, band director, parents. Get them on your side and spreading the word fast!
- Figure out logistics before you meet with the decision makers so you have an answer for each of their questions:
- Where will you rehearse? (Consult the band teacher!)
- When will we fit your ensemble into the schedule? (Consult the band teacher!)
- Who will pay your additional salary? (You may have to “take one for the team” the first year and do one additional ensemble for free or for a stipend until it becomes established)
- Where will we get instruments? (Consult your county music supervisors & local music shops)
- Schedule a meeting with the administrator from the school in which you want to start the strings program as well as the decision makers (music supervisor, superintendent, etc.)
- Get the word out that your strings program is now open for music makers!
Please let me know if this post has helped you get your own string program started. If you have any questions, please let me know! Happy Musicking 🙂
Gillespie, R., Russell, J. A., and Hamann, D. L., (2014). String Music Educators’ Perceptions of the Impact of New String Programs on Student Outcomes, School Music Programs, and Communities. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62 (2), 175 – 187.