The Power of Thank You Notes

Do you remember when you learned “it’s the thought that counts?” Probably when Aunt Mertyl gave you a crocheted scarf every year for Christmas. Every year.

Say it with me, Mertyl: “iTunes Gift Cards.”

There is one time though, when “the thought that counts” is golden and desired. That’s in the form of a Thank You Card.

We might have Jimmy Fallon to thank for his segment “Thank You Notes”  for a resurgence in the popularity of Thank You Cards. If you’ve missed this part of the Fallon show, you’ll want to check it out. It’s brilliant!

Something we can do as Band Directors to properly respond to generosity or a job well done is to make a habit of sending quick notes of appreciation.

Here are some things you can do to get started:

1. Purchase Thank You Cards by the pack. This is better than spending $4 or $5 one card at a time. I stock up on the ones carried at Mardel’s: $1 for a pack of 8.

2. Write your Card the moment you think to do it. Don’t wait. You won’t do it later. Have cards in your school desk and your home desk. This ensures you’ll be able to act right away.

The law of Diminishing Intent says,
The longer you wait to do something you should do now, 
the greater the odds that you will never actually do it”
– John C. Maxwell

3. Keep your comments short and genuine. This might be a no-brainer, but keep in mind that “it’s the thought that counts” so what you say may not hold as much weight as the actual act of giving the card.

4. Handwrite your note. Even if your penmanship is awful — mine is the worst. A note by someone’s hand is so uncommon these days that it will certainly stand out immediately. Also, it indicates that you stopped everything else and took time to thank that person. In a digital world, the sincerest Thank You Card will become even more thoughtful.

5. Start by thanking your secretaries and your custodians. These are the people you must take care of first. They make your life easier. Your secretaries often answer questions, handle concerns and work out logistics that you may never know about. Thrilled with the way your custodian straightens up your band hall? Slip a $5 Sonic gift card in with your Thank You note!

6. Get your students in on the act. A few times in my career I’ve been on the receiving end of a wonderful note signed by every student in a band I visited. Whether I was a clinician or I wrote a piece for them, I’ve always felt the greatest sincerity from this gesture. Your recipient will too when they know that you sacrificed rehearsal time to send them something unique. (I still have every band member-signed note I’ve ever been sent!)

It’s easy to reach critical mass in our jobs and think we can’t possibly fit anything else onto our to-do list. I completely understand that. But I’ve also seen the joy that a Thank You Card brings and have felt it myself when I receive one. It’s worth it to make this a new habit of yours. It’s the thought that counts.

Eric Rath is an active educator, clinician, adjudicator, arranger, and composer. He has served as a band and orchestra director as well as a percussion specialist at the middle and high school levels. He and Ralph Hicks are the co-authors of the percussion ensemble collection, “Beyond Basic Percussion” and the snare drum and keyboard fundamentals book, “Five Minute Drill” (Tapspace Publications). Recently, they launched their latest book, “The Golden Age of Ragtime,” which features five ragtime piano pieces transcribed for xylophone soloist and marimba ensemble or piano accompaniment.

Related Reading:
5 Things You Should Say to Your Band More Often
If I Knew Then What I Know Now
Motivate Your Band – Dig Deeper – A story of hard work

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