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recruiting in middle school choirs

I am struggling to compete with band at my school - I usually have 75-80
beginners each year while band has 150-175. Band has been king for s long
time ast my school (I'm currently in my third year). We are not falling
apart ( I have about 200 next year), but I would appreciate any new ideas
on recruiting at the elementary feeder schools. Here's what I already do:

1) Send posters to the elementary school before each of our concerts to
publicize choir to 5th graders
2) Visit each feeder school's after school choir at least once each
semester and run a rehearsal with them - all positive, "dog and pony
show" stuff
3) Visit with each 5th grade class (during the elementary music teacher's
class) and bring some of my best current kids to talk to them about
joining choir.
4) Perform at each elementary school during the holidays and again just
before they choose their electives for the next year
5) Have a cluster concert with elementary thru high school choirs onstage
6) Have a prospective parents' meeting at night to answer questions about
choir - food is served
7) Talk to my current kids about getting their friends in choir and
offering rewards to those who recruit the most kids
8) Talk to my great parents about about spreading the word about choir

I don't know what else to do - any suggestions wouod be GREATLY
appreciated!

Mary Jane Phillips
mary_janephillips(a)earthlink.net




on February 25, 2009 7:46am
On Feb 24, 2009, at 8:35 PM, Mary Jane Phillips wrote:

> I am struggling to compete with band at my school -(snip) but I would
> appreciate any new ideas
> on recruiting at the elementary feeder schools. Here's what I already
> do:

Good grief! You already doing more than most! If parents can't see that
and make a qualitative judgment about where their children can find a
superior teacher and experience, then the only thing left is to get
them on the football field or in the basketball gym every Friday night.

The root of the problem is that the two activities present an
"either-or" situation. Children would benefit from both band and choir
at this educational stage. The sad part is that sometimes that choice
is made for financial reasons, unintentionally creating a "have" and
"have not" situation which spills over for years to come.

Had you considered putting together an after-school group *just* for
enrollees in the band program (and others whose schedules force a
choice)? "The Vocal Band"? Politically tricky but perhaps the band
director might do the same for your singers. The things band students
can learn if they sing and the things your singers can learn by picking
up an instrument is a win-win situation which places the child at the
center, not the programs. That's the best way to eliminate the
competition - just don't allow any.


Cindy Pribble
vintagevoce(a)ctc.net




on February 25, 2009 7:48am
At 5:35 PM -0800 2/24/09, Mary Jane Phillips wrote:
>I am struggling to compete with band at my school - I usually have 75-80
>beginners each year while band has 150-175. Band has been king for s long
>time ast my school (I'm currently in my third year). We are not falling
>apart ( I have about 200 next year), but I would appreciate any new ideas
>on recruiting at the elementary feeder schools.

You do NOT have a program that's in trouble! You don't mention how
large your school is, what percentage are involved in music, etc. Is
there also a string program? What about your schedule? Problems
with block scheduling, other electives, or sports? Do you coordinate
at all with the band recruiting? All of this is relevant.

>Here's what I already do:

Excellent approach. I see only one thing that seems to be missing:
collaboration with the elementary school music teachers, aside from
taking up some of their class time, in addition to reaching out to
their students. My model in this is middle to high school, not
elementary to middle school, but in our school district the middle
school and high school band directors worked VERY closely together to
try to cut down on the dropout rate in moving from middle to high
school, and it worked very well. It amounted to a kind of full-court
press to maintain enthusiasm.

Just one other thought. When I was in high school I had started a
very good barbershop quartet (which went on to a 20-year career as a
very successful professional entertainment group, moving well beyond
barbershop). Our junior high choral director (who happened to be my
mother) had us come and perform on an assembly for the junior high
kids, and she got a LOT of interest in choir (including boys and
including ATHLETES!). The equivalent today would be a good high
school doo-wop a cappella group. Remember that you're not just
recruiting kids for choir, you're recruiting them into MUSIC, which
they can continue to enjoy for the rest of their lives without trying
to earn a living at it! Important not to forget that, and not to
forget that you're not really competing with the band, you're all in
this together!

John


--
John R. Howell, Assoc. Prof. of Music
Virginia Tech Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html

"We never play anything the same way once." Shelly Manne's definition
of jazz musicians.




on February 25, 2009 12:52pm
Jane,



You are already doing a lot of really great things! Other things I have

found to be effective in recruiting:



1. Spring trip - kids love to take a trip with their friends and the band

probably does this already which could explain their larger numbers.

2. Can students take band AND choir? If so, they count as one for both

ensembles according to administrators. Maybe you can work out a time

share

with the band director if you have students who want to do both where
students go to band 3 days a week, and choir 2 days a week or vice versa.

3. Social event, like a fall choir retreat, and a spring picnic/awards
banquet

4. Choir basketball game - great for recruiting boys esp. junior high boys.



Good Luck!



Karen Strong
kstrong(a)sjnra.org




on February 25, 2009 12:53pm
Best thing to do... Make your choir as awesome as it can be, and show off that awesomeness.

The Band people are not trolling around trying to recruit people for band. (And if they are, do whatever it is they do, it's working.)
Some people just love the band, they see them at football games, they want to be at homecoming... or march in parades, or don't want to appear effeminite (Which sadly, is a ridiculous, but all to realistic factor.)Whatever their reasoning, they SAW the band, HEARD them, and thought "I want to be a part of that."

Choose your music well, ONLY do the best quality repertiore, encourage only the finest performance and behavior, and someone will look at your group and say, "I want to be a part of that."

Besides, other than the kids you've got already, who are genuinely interested in Music, whom else do you want to attract? Do you want to "Dupe" people into trying chorus? Or attract people who don't wish to commit to an ensemble, just so you can say you have x number of kids in your program? I would prefer to have a 40 voice high quality choir than a 200 voice mediocre choir. Focus on Quality ratehr than Quantity.

You are agressively recruiting already, so keep on keeping on! If you sing it, they will come.

Carl J Ferrara
Rb4uris(a)yahoo.com
Rb4uris(a)yahoo.com




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