Today’s post is from guest blogger, Emily Palmer. Emily is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she served as Color Guard Captain for the EMU Marching Band. During her time at EMU she also served as President of the Gamma Rho chapter of Tau Beta Sigma. She now serves as the Color Guard Instructor for Farmington HS. We’re so glad she can join us to impart some of the wisdom gleaned from her time as a Marching Band Student Leader!
My little high school marching band students are in the midst of recruiting new members for the 2012 season. Our program is relatively small and under-recognized by the school, so I really want them to get into the habit of spreading good information about themselves. In order to help them realize how effective they can be, I recently shared the following tips with them, all of which were gleaned from my experience in the EMU Marching Band and Tau Beta Sigma. As the recruiting season for concert and marching band draws near (and therefore recruitment for Tau Beta Sigma, Kappa Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Iota, Mu Phi Epsilon and Phi Mu Alpha), I urge you to search for a way to apply some (or all) of these to your own programs.
- Start with an attention-grabber – a performance at a well-attended event; a game that everyone loves and can participate in after a rehearsal; food – and use the rest of the tips to retain interest in your organization.
- Offer free food. Everybody loves free food, especially college kids. Once you hook them with the food, genuinely try to get to know the people who attend your event and maybe slip in some information about the group. Have the information readily available (in a brochure for them to take home, for example) but don’t force it on anyone. When they see that your group is full of awesome, friendly people (that also happen to do awesome things), they will want to come back to you.
- Make a personal connection. Approach a specific person and tell him or her why you think they would like your organization, and why you think they would be a great part of it. I joined my sorority because someone specifically told me that I would bring a lot of leadership skills and be a good addition to the group. Turns out they were really right and I gained more from that group than I ever could have imagined.
- Follow up! Check in with that specific person and ask him or her if they’ve thought more about it. Offer to answer questions, send links to videos of your band’s performances, invite them to other band or open sorority/fraternity events. Don’t be a stalker – but help them see what a great community you are a part of.
- Give details about what being in band means. Don’t focus on the bad or not-so-fun things but you also shouldn’t sugar-coat those aspects. For marching band, if they ask if you practice during the summer, say yes. But tell them about how much fun band camp is. If they ask whether your group memorizes music, say yes. But tell them about the cool things you get to do because you are awesome enough to memorize music (trips, cool visual additions, etc.).
- Explain what your group means to you and why you love it. My life has literally been changed by being involved in band. I would not be friends with most of the people I know, I wouldn’t have adjusted to high school or college and I wouldn’t have the privilege to teach a high school colorguard. Foresight can be difficult to grasp at but your anecdotes can make it real for prospective members.
Good luck with your recruitment and enjoy the last few months of the semester as much as you can! Please let me know if you have any questions either here in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Thanks to Mr. Sky Buffington for allowing me to be a guest blogger and to Ms. Anna Martell for encouraging me to do it.)