Socialization is typically a byproduct of a music program. However, in one music class at Parkway Central Middle School in Chesterfield, Missouri, socialization is the goal. Parkway Central hosts a chapter of United Sound, a national not-for-profit program that provides musical performance experiences for students with special needs through peer mentorship.
In 2016, the wind ensemble at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tennessee, performed on the main stage at the Music for All National Concert Band Festival. That performance inspired Lauren Ramey and Cassandra Brosvik, Ravenwood's choir director and orchestra director, respectively, to help their ensembles strive for the same level of achievement.
The best recruiters for music programs are our current students. When retaining music students from middle and elementary schools, look to high school students to help because they serve as the best public relations for the program. These student leaders are role models and can make an immediate and impactful impression on younger students.
When Kathryn Greene began teaching orchestra at James Cashman Middle School in Las Vegas in 2006, she may have been in over her head. Not only was Greene yet another teacher in a revolving door of instructors who had tried to succeed in the position, but she had a secret that she didn't tell her students during her first year: She had no actual experience teaching orchestra or performing on string instruments.
Nestled between the city's homeless corridor and a cemetery near the historic Fremont District of Las Vegas, Rancho High School might not seem like the ideal home for a successful performing arts program, but thanks to Clint Williams, Rancho's director of bands, the program is thriving.
In a sprawling state like Texas, it might be easy to overlook the small town of Roma that sits along the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border. But that would be a mistake because the Roma Independent School District has cultivated a unique and successful music program thanks in large part to Dena Laurel, who came to Roma High School as an assistant band director in 1997 and then moved up to become director of bands in 2008.
Every spring, Denison (Iowa) High School hosts a fiesta, including a taco truck, chips and salsa, and parents' homemade desserts. But the main attraction is the Denison High School Mariachi Band.
When Daniel Berard walked into his job interview at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2004, he had a clear vision of how to start the band program from scratch. He pictured the program one, two, five and 10 years down the road and hoped the administration would buy into his plans.
One of the hallmarks of successful music educators is their desire to continually seek out ways to "build a better mousetrap." For example, they look for new rehearsal and conducting techniques, innovative ideas to reach others through advocacy and more effective strategies to enhance recruitment and retention for their school's music education programs.
Janis Stockhouse's confidence was high on her first day as director of bands at Bloomington High School North in Indiana. Then her jazz students showed up. "They were tossing out vocabulary and words, and I was stumped," Stockhouse says. "It made me feel really bad that I couldn't teach them anything. I wanted to run home."
At O'Fallon (Illinois) Township High School, when school ends, music can still be heard drifting through the halls as high school musicians guide middle schoolers in after-school private lessons. The program is just one of many opportunities created by Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds — known as Dr. G — to connect band students of all ages together.