Recruitment of beginning musicians is such an important process, but it can be overwhelming when you don't know where to begin. Staying organized is key to success. If you are a "Type A" personality-- a person that is driven by a sense of order and attention to detail-- then you probably already know what I mean. If not, well, it can't hurt to be a little more organized when it comes to recruitment. After all, the future enrollment of your music program depends on doing this one thing really well.
Creating a checklist of tasks and a timeline for completion can help you organize your recruitment process so that everything gets accomplished. As you begin to look at building your own timeline, remember that recruitment is not an event that happens on a specific day or during a specific week. It is a process: one in which you should be engaged throughout your school year, either directly through planning and scheduled activities, or indirectly through marketing of your program and working on retention of your current students.
The first step is to determine the date that students sign up for courses. This is your "D-Day" -- the day when that all-important decision--"Will I join music?-- is made by the students. As a director, all of your efforts are focused on getting students to say, "yes" on that scheduling day. Because this day is so crucial, I always build my timeline backward from the date that students select their courses for the following school year. In my school district, student begin instrumental music in the 6th grade. Fifth graders choose their 6th grade courses during the second week of February for the following fall. So my efforts intensify as we get closer to that week.
So what does my checklist of recruitment activities look like? Read on. Remember that no two schools are the same and your list may look different from mine. As you plan your own activities, delete those items that don't make sense for your situation, and add in others that do.
Six to Twelve Months Prior to Scheduling
Schedule all your events on the master school calendar. Events might include your Demonstration Concert, Instrument Fitting Dates and Parent Meeting Dates. Make sure to check the calendar for any potential conflicts. Remember to reserve any rooms and facilities that you might need at this time as well.
Three Months Prior to Scheduling
Two Months Prior to Scheduling
Update your website if you have one
Set up Google Form for online sign-up
Update or create introductory letter to send out to prospective families
One Month Prior to Scheduling
Contact guidance/ administration to get contact information for incoming students
Contact feeder music teachers and/or classroom teachers to share recruitment schedule and other information
Send out introductory letter/ email to all prospective families with link to online sign-up form
Monitor online sign-ups to close out time slots as they fill up
Contact music dealer and/ or colleagues to arrange for helpers for instrument fittings
Recruit student and parent volunteers for instrument fittings – I use Sign-up Genius for this!
Send reminder email to families who have not completed the online form
Send reminder/ update of sign-ups to feeder music teachers so they can continue to encourage students to join
Hold Demonstration Concert
Three to Four Weeks Before Scheduling
Print testing forms and other documents
Organize all materials for testing dates (signs, forms, sign-out cards, percussion rhythm testing, pencils, binders, etc.)
Send reminder/ appointment confirmation emails to families. Include information about parking, process, etc.
One - Two Weeks Before Scheduling
Hold instrument fitting nights
Make instrument recommendations for students based on preferences, instrument fitting notes and instrumentation needs
Follow up with students who were “no shows” for instrument fitting appointments
Schedule make-up date for no shows
Contact music dealer to get updated pricing for accessories and instrument rentals
Update recommendation letter and fact sheet
Send recommendation letter and beginning band/ orchestra fact sheet to all families
After Scheduling Occurs
Cross reference course requests with those attending instrument fittings. Follow up with any discrepancies.
Update administration on possible instrument inventory needs based on new enrollment figures
Respond to parent questions, requests for instrument switches, etc.
Update or create Parent Meeting presentation slides
Send reminder email to families about parent meeting
Hold Parent Meeting/ Instrument Rental Night
Follow up with families who did not attend meeting to confirm interest
There you have it! Although this list may seem overwhelming, remember that these activities are to be completed over the course of a year. Take everything one task at a time and it will seem much more manageable. Good luck and happy recruiting!