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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Recruiting and Retaining Students in a small district

I teach vocal music in a small rural schoold district. I have been at this school for six years and have always had small groups, but good groups. However, I have had lots of turnover. Most of my students in my high school choir have been freshmen and sophmores because of scheduling conflicts with required classes for the upperclassmen. I would really like to see this progam grow, but I am having trouble retaining students and sometimes in recruiting new ones. As a result, my choir has gotten a little smaller each year. 
 
Please help! I could really use some suggestions on how to recruit more students and retain more of the older ones. I teach PreK-12th grade, and I only spend one hour a day in the high school setting. This makes recruiting extra challenging at times. How can I reach out to students to try to get them interested in choir? How can I make my choir class fun, a place the kids want to be, without compromising the integrity of the curriculum? I would truly appreciate all thoughts and suggestions. Thank you for your input. 
Replies (3): Threaded | Chronological
on September 5, 2013 9:30am
Terri,
I pulled this from the ACDA Archives. This proved to be quite a good solution for us and gave the members more "ownership" and involvement in the future.
 
Last year, as a Learning Styles activity, I wanted to 
collect a set of talking points before the high school hosted the eighth 
graders for a festival. My singers make the best recruiters and I wanted 
everyone to be "on topic" when talking to their friends.
I broke each of my choirs into groups of four and asked 
the groups to address each of these questions. Here are the results.

Joining
Love of Music
Love of Performing
Involvement in School
Gain Confidence
Have Fun
Be with Friends
Good Experience
Learn Something

Staying
Pride
Relationships
Mr. Stomps
Sandy Young
Voice lessons
Like to Sing
Personal Satisfaction
Individual Achievement

Problems
Being Shy
Friends don't join or stay
Attitude Issues
Schedule

Solutions
Personal Contacts
Displays/Public Relations
More Contact w/Middle Schools
Mentoring in Middle School
Freshman Orientation Presentation

Talking and Thinking Points:
As you meet and greet the prospective high school choir members (whether
incoming freshmen or current high school students), you may use these
points to guide your discussions. In these points we have identified the
love of music and personal relationships as being very important. Use your
influence and relationships to recruit new members.
Scheduling Issues are very difficult hurdles over which we have very
little control. However, Arts Credits are required for graduation. If we
get a singer in, we can keep them. Emphasize that the schedule is not the
school’s, but belongs to the student. Guidance Counselors jam up the first
three years leaving a student essentially finished with school by the end
of the junior year. There is a place for music and a whole lot more in a
normal schedule. 
on September 6, 2013 7:10am
Thank you for your input Steven. I truly appreciate it. 
on September 6, 2013 11:21am
Happily done.  Your singers may come up with different suggestions but the excercise really gave focus to the process. The singers also became more invested in the process and, face it, it is the students who meet other students and are, thus, the recruiters.  S
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