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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, May 13, 2013


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

Boosting Your Band Parent Group by Chuck Appleton

One of the greatest assets a band program can have is that of an active parent’s group.  Let’s take a look at some things that have worked successfully over the years with parent groups. 


  • People support what they help to create.  Explain to your parents the needs that you have and they will come up with ways to meet those needs.  You will have to resist the urge to dictate to your group.  Let them be creative and they will be your greatest friends.
  • Parents want to see their children have the best and be successful.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, whether it is new equipment, music, or money for transportation.  Let your parents know what is lacking and they will figure out a way to help their students get the best that they can.  Outline for them, dream with them, and they will help you!
  • Treat others as you want to be treated.  Remember that your parents are people just like you, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity!  Many a band director has lost the support of their parents because they didn’t figure this out!


  • Have a Constitution and By-Laws to give your group authenticity and legitimacy.  Having these in place also provides smoothly run meetings that will get things done more efficiently.
  • If you don’t have a constitution, borrow some from other band programs and use what applies to your situation.  It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel.


  • Marching season provides an excellent opportunity for your parents to be involved in the replacement or repair of equipment.  Go through your equipment and decide in priority order what your needs are.  One year we needed to be able to move our four timpani on and off the field quickly and conveniently.  My parents designed and built a portable timpani cart that could be pulled by a gator.  It folded in half for storage.  If you don’t ask, your won’t receive.
  • Parents are great at sewing uniforms, flags, costumes, etc.  Let them know what you need and watch what happens.  We needed uniforms for our 8th grade band.  A parent stepped forward and had them sewn and donated by a local uniform company!  What a gift to our band that was!
  • Parents can often repair equipment and things in your classroom.  We needed lockers for our instruments at the middle school.  The parents got together and designed adjustable shelving and storage units for our band room.  They were very well made and fit our budget!
  • If your parent group is such that they can support extra vehicles for marching season, give them the opportunity to maintain and operate this equipment.  You will find that they may really enjoy doing this and a real sense of pride and accomplishment can occur.  A great addition to our program was a used Ryder truck.  The parents had it painted and lettered identifying the various aspects of our band program such as auxiliary, drumline, jazz and concert bands.  It has been used for marching band,hauling percussion to State Contest, Jazz Festivals and taking uniforms to the cleaners.
  • Food!!!  Need I say more?  Parents really enjoy cooking and providing nourishment for their students.  Let them know when and where you want food and watch it appear!  Our parents provide great meals at all of our competitions as well as food for special events.  I would advise against storing too much food in your band room, as students and animals like to partake. 


  • How about those uniforms?  Even though we would all like to see our schools purchase those expensive uniforms, many times your parents will need to be involved in raising part or all of the funds.  It gives them a tremendous sense of pride when they see the band in those uniforms that they helped to supply.  Select a few good parents to help with this project.  Our parents purchased 90 new uniforms for our band.  The school was so impressed by their assistance in this, that they committed to purchasing an additional 125 uniforms and decided to start a “uniform account” for the future purchase of uniforms.  Guess where the monies for this account came from.......the gate receipts at home football games!
  • Parents can provide scholarships.  Many parent groups provide music scholarships for private lessons, for music camps, or attendance at universities where students can continue to play their instruments.  This is another great opportunity for parents to contribute and help other students be successful.
  • Parent groups can help supplement your travel budget.  Be careful not to get them involved in this, unless it is absolutely necessary.  Let the school monies go as far as they can carry you and then supplement.  This also provides you with an excellent way to approach your administration for more monies in this area.  You can provide documentation that parents are paying school expenses and use this as a discussion point with your administration.
  • Let parents handle the fundraising monies from projects that involve student participation.  Not only does this help them feel involved, it is a great time saver for you.  They can even contact the students who still need to turn in money or products.


  • Parents are great help when traveling with your band.  Whenever we took overnight trips, our parents helped check rooms, handle student monies, walk the halls, and chaperone small groups.
  • Parents can help to fund your “special” trips.  Our band traveled to Washington D.C. every three years.  Our parent group had a goal to fund half the cost of each student’s expenses for the trip.  This gave them involvement in the trip and also helped each student be responsible for raising only part of their own expenses.
  • Parents can help with trip details.  In preparation for a Washington D.C. trip, one parent got on the internet and provided each student with information and maps to most of the “free” activities in D.C.  It made a great trip packet for each student.


  • Let your parents organize and structure your parent meetings.  Hopefully your president  will have strengths in this area.  The president can outline committee reports and select chairman for upcoming activities.  Be sure communicate your input to your president.
  • Be sure that you are present at every meeting and that you speak at every meeting.  It is very important to keep your ideas in the forefront and your parents focused on your primary goals for the band.
  • Always leave time for questions at parent meetings.  If a topic is too long or controversial, recommend to your president that they table it until the next meeting.  Then, let the board take a look at it, or form a committee to study solutions by the next meeting. 
  • As much as possible, keep the meetings short and positive.  Too long equals “So Long, Farewell, Aufweidersein Goodnight!”


  • You should provide the main ideas and facts, but allow parents some freedom to create artwork, decide the format, and even add articles (with your approval) to the newsletter.
  • Encourage timely publication of the newsletter, whether it is once a month, once a quarter or once a semester. Keep the newsletter going and you will find great dividends from the added communication with your parents as well as the extra information that is shared in the community.  This can also help those of you with Career Ladder!


  • Send emails to your parents on a regular basis.  Let individuals know that you appreciate them!  Communication is very important.
  • Call parents frequently.  Let them know when they have done something nice, done a good job on a project, or just plain really helped you out.  Frequent thanking of people for help is one of the best medicines for a healthy parent body.
  • Send a card or letter of appreciation.  Many of us may use email, but good old fashioned “snail mail” still seems to have a great impact on people.  The fact that you took the time to “write” a note in a card means a lot to folks, especially considering the busy world of a band director!

Chuck Appleton
Palen Music Center - Columbia Road Representative

[email protected]

Chuck Appleton is currently working as a road rep for Palen Music Center and has been teaching instrumental music for 33 years. He retired in May of 2010 and is currently a member of the Missouri Valley College faculty in Marshall, MO as a music adjunct. Chuck taught twenty-three years in Warrensburg, where he was director of bands and eight years in Dixon, MO. A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Mr. Appleton received his bachelor of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1979 and a Master of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1995. Mr. Appleton served as Band Vice-President for the Missouri Music Educators Association from 2006-2008. Mr. Appleton is also a member of MENC, Missouri Bandmasters Association, Missouri Association of Jazz Educators and Phi Beta Mu.

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