Monday, September 22, 2014


Aaron Bounds at East Central College in Union, MO (west of St. Louis) was having a tough time filling the seats for performances, so he decided to take action! He contacted a college friend in graphic design and asked him to create a poster for his upcoming concert. The results speak for themselves. Check out what he has to say about it below, and view some of the cool posters his friend, Aaron Opie, has created in the header above!

When I first speak with Opie, we talk about our concert idea/theme, and how we want to approach our publicity. We pay him to help us with:

1. Initial concept (creating a theme around the music selection)
2. Event poster
3. Program cover
4. Facebook profile and cover photo

When the posters are done, I plaster them all over our school's campus, Union/Washington and other towns, and then Facebook. We encourage our students to use the poster as the profile and cover pic for their Facebook page in the weeks leading up to the concert. This has helped tremendously! We also have a Facebook "page" (not a group) that allows people to just "like" us and get all of our information. There are posts that reach over 700 people (Facebook provides the insights/statistics that I LOVE).

Using this approach, we have seen an increase in most all of our concerts in the past few years. After one year of doing this, our May concert that year (A Night at the Movies) brought in over 420 people to our theater! A huge increase from 250 the previous year! The support has been wonderful and we hope to continue this trend.

If you would like to contact Aaron, he can be reached at [email protected].

While not all directors have close friends in graphic design, most have access to: 1) artistic & tech-savvy students; 2) an art teacher and their students; or 3) a local artist who wants to give back! If you are not already actively working to "fill the seats", I encourage you to give this a try. I have a feeling you'll be pleasantly surprised! Increased audience size means increased exposure, which will undoubtedly lead to increased support for your students and the whole program! Check out some more ideas on how to promote your concert below. Have a FANTASTIC Fall everyone!

More ideas to increase your concert attendance:

  • Create a theme as Aaron does (British composers, night at the movies, songs of a certain era/country, etc.)
  • Host a food and/or coat drive (perfect for a competition between the grade levels, and an awesome way to help your kids give back!)
  • Ask for a promo to be read during daily announcements (or better yet, YOU read it in that enthusiastic voice that you use when recruiting kids to join your program!)
  • Use social media to spread the word - get the kids involved!
    • Facebook posts - extra credit to the kids who share the post?
    • Use Twitter to tweet hints about the concert (50/50 raffle announcement?)
    • Have the students create a Vine (short video) promoting it!
    • Use Vimeo to create and upload a longer promo video!
  • Hold a 50/50 Drawing at the concert! Sell tickets before-hand and at intermission (draw the winner before the last piece).

Mike Steffen
Educational Representative
Palen Music Center
[email protected]

Mike Steffen grew up in Grandview, MO and holds Music Education Degrees from Missouri State and University of Missouri - Kansas City. He served as a band director for five years in the Lee's Summit R-7 School District (KC area) where he taught band in grades 5-12. While he was there, Mike worked with the LSHS Golden Tiger Marching Band, directed the Concert Band, and directed the middle school program. Most notably, he was instrumental in the development of the Lee's Summit High School Jazz Program which had an active, well-respected big band, two student combos, and placed many students in the All-District Jazz Bands each year. Prior to that, Mike taught middle school band in Pleasant Hill, MO. Mike loves playing the saxophone, is married to his high school sweetheart, Miranda, and is the proud papa of three beautiful girls - Melody, McKenna, and Mae!