Retention Strategies to Keep Your Band Students IN (during the summer)
Schedule requests are complete and you are wrapping up the school year. You’ve worked so hard to keep your students excited for band next year, but activities are starting to slow down. Spring concerts are happening and in just a few weeks, the band hall will be empty. How do you keep your students interested in band when you don’t see them everyday? Here are some tips that will keep BAND fresh on their minds.
Wrapping up the School Year (Last month of school)
This is the month to recognize your students’ achievements, celebrate band success, and end the year on a good note!
- End of year celebration – Schedule a band social to wrap up the year. Make it something outdoors and at a good time when many of your students can attend. Perhaps the best time is directly after school one day. (Band BBQ or picnic, smores party, banana split party)
- Update contact info – Be sure that you have up-to-date contact info on your students and parents. If you plan to stay in contact this is key!
- Promote summer private lessons – You want to keep your students playing, so make a lesson push this month. Have your private teachers make an appearance during the last couple of weeks of school and invite them to your end of year party. Have them come and play in class with your kids.
- Announce your Spring Trip for next year
- Display band awards
- Summer calendar – This calendar will include all activities for the summer. Plan at least 1 social event a month and also have your section leaders schedule something.
- Touch base with your parents – Plan an end of year meeting or make sure that your parents are aware of what activities will be going on this summer.
- Assign band buddies – Pair your newest band members with your older ones and have them contact each other during the summer. This will help your students feel welcome when band rehearsals start again.
Summer is here! (Are you still thinking about your band?)
Summer Contact (June-July)
This is a great time to stay in touch. You want your students thinking about music ALL summer and the only way to do that is to keep them involved.
- Band website – Use social media and email to update your band on activities that are going on in the summer and what you have planned for next school year. Making contact weekly will encourage them to stay in touch. Keep it fun and don’t just keep it to business.
- Summer newsletter – This newsletter should focus specifically on summer band info and things to look forward to for next year.
- Section leaders contact band members in their section – Have them schedule a social get together during the summer. They could have a sectional at the band hall and do something fun after. (Orange Leaf, snow cones, movie night, mini golf, donut shop, popsicle party)
- Attend a band camp with your students – Get as many as you can to attend the same camp and if you have enough, take a bus together! Do a band camp fundraiser earlier in the year and get your booster club to award band camp scholarships.
- Leadership retreat for band officers – Before summer band starts, be sure to schedule an activity for your leaders. This retreat should involve leadership training, fun activities, and preparation for summer band. Make it something to remember!
- Summer fundraisers can be fun too!
Mail summer band music early – Send out music several weeks before summer band starts. Also think about having a summer band orientation a few days before things start up again. This would be a great time for students to show up and get their new band t-shirts, check out equipment, take care of paperwork, get new locker assignment, etc.
Sarah Loudenback, an active educator and clarinet specialist, has taught band for 7 years and private lessons for 16 years. The two most recent band programs she led each doubled in size in the first two years. She currently assists band directors with classes and also teaches woodwind private lessons (beginning, secondary, and college). Sarah enjoys playing duets with her husband (who also plays saxophone, clarinet, and flute) and spending time with her 2 toddler boys.
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