Monday, February 8, 2021
How confident are you for retaining fall semester students to the spring? How confident to keeping students to next year? Students are pulled in many directions, not to mention the challenges of dealing with Covid-19. The following are some considerations to maximize your student retention potential.
Know your stats. Current students and expected students. Know the "whys"--why students leave and why students stay. Ask the students! They're your best source of information.
Be intentional. Have a reason for everything you do. Find what works for your community. If you have to force it, leave it alone. Focus on what you can do. The ensemble reflects your attitude.
Reach out. Ask administrators if you're allowed to recruit. Ask if schedule changes will be happening. Pop in to classes where a large percentage of the population is (easy now with zoom.) Have a recruitment video and play during morning class announcements. Talk to students that are in your non-band classes. Ask band kids' friends that are not in band to join band. Use band kids as a recruiting tool; they will have friends who should be in band.
Create a positive virtual classroom culture. Set goals. Students should feel they're getting better, not just completing busy work. Be consistent. Create routines. Have fun lessons. Team-build. Create ice-breakers (scavenger hunt, "name that tune", movie nights, etc)
Use/Develop student leaders. Social media managers, activity facilitators, idea generators. Let them run a break out session for team building...let go of the control!
Advertise. Be confident and toot your own horn! Use social/print media. Be intentional. Communicate with students and parents. Don't forget to use the phone! Branding is a valuable tool; everyone loves swag!
Plan your events. In person or virtual? What can you do? Consider administrative and safety guidelines. Offer solutions, create a timeline. Reimagine your "normal" activities. Consider January and next year. Communicate with administrators/registrars/counselors at all levels.
Recruit and retain parents too. Bust up myths. Talk about time management. Ask current students to have conversations with band quitters.
|Amy Hinkson taught band for 13 years in North Carolina and Arkansas, most recently serving as Assistant Band Director at Lakeside Jr. High in Springdale, AR. Prior to Lakeside, Amy worked as Percussion Coordinator for the Alma School District for 8 years. She earned a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of Missouri in 2004 and a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Arkansas in 2002. Amy's bands consistently earned Excellent and Superior ratings at Concert Assessments, and her students routinely landed spots in the All-Region and All-State bands. Amy resides in Fayetteville with her husband, JR, and two sons, Jack and Nolan. The Hinkson family loves to watch baseball (especially the Texas Rangers!) and, of course, all things Razorback! Amy Hinkson joined the Palen Music Center team during the summer of 2017 and was named MVP of Palen Music Center in 2020.|
It is no secret that band instruments can take a real beating. From the clarinet that gets sat on, to the sousaphone that is in its 45th year of service, they all need maintenance to continue helping students learn music. But...there are a ton of opinions out there on what good maintenance is and when it is needed.
It is my opinion that the best maintenance happens before it is needed. In other words, the best maintenance is preventative maintenance. You can think of preventative maintenance on brass instruments like getting an oil change on your vehicle. The instrument gets chemically cleaned and, in the process, any other potential problems are identified and addressed while in the shop. For woodwind instruments, preventative maintenance is more like getting your tires rotated and getting a 48-point inspection. While all of these services have a specific repair goal, they prevent much bigger and more expensive problems before they start.
After having observed many approaches to band inventory maintenance by many programs across the region, I can truthfully say that instruments benefit the most when they are serviced regularly whether or not problems exist. Instruments come apart without issue, there are usually fewer dents and broken solders, and the exterior finish is typically in better condition. In contrast, when repairing inventory that has only been minimally repaired as-needed, nearly every step in the repair process takes longer, is more involved, and is more expensive to the customer. Additionally, these instruments usually require more part replacement, and the cost can add up very quickly.
It is reasonable to argue that as-needed maintenance is less expense year-over-year as compared to a regular service schedule. However, longevity of service should also be considered in this equation, as should player experience. Instruments that are regularly serviced will far outlast their counterparts and will provide a greater chance of success for students along the way. When factoring in the cost of replacing inventory and player experience, the long-term loss will far outweigh the short-term increase in repair cost for preventative maintenance.
Clearly, budgetary concerns have to be considered when it comes to the cost-benefit of yearly or regular maintenance, and the "right" answer will be different for everyone. But, if you can make it happen, preventative maintenance will ultimately save money (and students) in the long-run.
Chase was first introduced to the world of band instrument repair while working a summer job as a shop helper. He quickly realized he had a passion and aptitude for repair. Chase graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor's Degree in Music (Performance-Trumpet) in 2002 and joined the repair profession full-time. After getting married in 2008, Chase and Kalyn moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where they reside today. Chase has been serving the Northwest Arkansas area for more than 10 years and continues to find new ways to support musicians in their musical needs.
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