We talked about your September elementary strings recruiting meetings in last month’s blog and now the fun begins in October. The first step is to organize a parent night to get to know your parents and allow them to understand your plans for the upcoming year. Below is a list of agenda items perfect for your first parent meeting.
1. What’s your sense of purpose?
- Tell the new parents where you’re going with the program. Define the path that your students will follow (Download our Whitepaper for more information). Tell the parents this is more than just music lessons. You are competing for your students’ time and other exciting programs such as gymnastics, sports, scouting, and did I mention sports? Why is your program so special?
2. How are lessons scheduled?
- Let the parents know how often and what days your lessons will take place. If your lessons are pull-out lessons, give them statistics on how students who study a musical instrument excel in academics.
3. What are the expectations?
- What do you expect of your students? How will you measure their success? How will you grade?
4. What are the concert dates for the year?
- When can you expect to see the parents again? What are your performance dates?
5. Discuss upcoming fundraisers
- You need help raising funds for all kinds of purposes: music, instruments, trips, scholarships. Enlist an enthusiastic fundraising coordinator from the parent group and set-up a spread sheet to keep track of money raised by each student. For example, Encore Tours gives a free trip-for-two to Europe to raffle, and for that project some groups raise tens of thousands of dollars. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll send you some free tips on how to organize your fundraising projects or check out our fundraising blogs for advice!
6. Gather email addresses
- Communicate with your parents often. Starting a Strings Family will keep your students in your program through the years. Email them at least once each month and, if you hold a monthly parent meeting (a GREAT idea), let them know when upcoming meetings will be held
7. Give information about rental programs for beginners
- Where can they rent an instrument? How will they be sized? What method book will they need? Other supplies they need, such as music stands, rosin, extra strings, fine tuners, etc can be discussed
8. If you have a Strings Store, display your items
- A Strings Store can sell extra strings and rosin, music stands, t-shirts and bumper stickers for your group, key chains, music portfolios, sweatshirts, pencils and pens, even teddy bears!
9. Tell them the name of your group and your slogan
- In Wilmington, MA, my group was called Strings Attached. Our motto, seen on hundreds of bumper stickers around town read: The Best Things In Life Have Strings Attached. That was our name and our sense of purpose all in one.
10. Inform them about what the upper grade level string players are accomplishing
- My elementary students knew they would be traveling to Europe in High School. I informed the parents from the very first meeting. It helped define the path and gave everyone a sense of purpose and a reason to practice, fundraise, and support each other.
Once this month gets rolling, you’ll get your rhythm established. The fun will eclipse the organizational tasks that every September brings.
Have other questions? I’m here to help. My program grew from 12 to over 400 strings students in a small public school, so I’ve seen it all. Don’t hesitate to ask.
About the Author
Ward Dilmore is a recently retired music teacher from Wilmington High School, MA where he grew his string orchestra from 12 students to over 450, in large part due to his incorporation of foreign travel into the program. Ward initially traveled with other companies, but once he found Encore, he never looked back. He has taken his ‘Strings Attached’ orchestra overseas with Encore 7 times, in total taking over 1,200 students abroad during his years at Wilmington.