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Beginning Band Recruiting

Hillcrest Intermediate School, PA

11091 Mockingbird Drive, North Huntingdon, PA, USA
Norwin School District
Director: Devon Lippmann
Category: Beginning Recruitment Program
Award: Honorable Mention, 2019

Project Description

The campaign to recruit incoming  fth-graders into the beginning band program at Hillcrest Intermediate School begins in April. Mr. Lippmann, the band director, plans four visits to each of the four elementary schools.

At the  rst visit, Mr. Lippman asks each fourth-grade classroom teacher if he can stop by to say hi. Preceded by his dynamic personality and boundless energy, he plans a quick eurythmics
activity accompanied by popular music that tweens love. It gets every student physically and mentally engaged and excited at the prospect of joining his class next year.

For his second visit, Mr. Lippmann comes bearing “golden tickets.” They are “all-access” passes to “be our guest” at the upcoming spring 5th and 6th grade band concerts at Hillcrest.
These concerts are programmed with music that is carefully chosen to be fun both for the older students to play and for the younger students and their families to hear, including plenty of
Disney classics. It’s a regular sight to see preschoolers dancing in the aisles (recruiting at Norwin really does start early!).

The week after the concert, Mr. Lippman arrives for his third visit with demo instruments in tow. He engages the 4th grade classroom teacher for assistance, both with notetaking and with
insight into students’ personalities. He will demonstrate each instrument, playing songs that are recognizable, catchy, and popular. He’ll ask the teacher to go down the class roster and ask each student to pick their favorite instrument to try. Students get to hold each horn, which research shows increases perceived ownership. While joking with the students, he takes the opportunity to evaluate students’ cheeks, embouchures, and hand sizes. Based on this information, he picks a 2nd choice for each student (if the student isn’t well-suited for their  rst choice, they’ll get to hold this instrument a bit longer than they did their  rst choice).

Mr. Lippmann’s 5th grade students help assemble the packets for that are delivered to the 4th graders on his fourth and  nal elementary visit. He encourages them to include notes to kids they know. These packets consist of instrument rental information, plus an 8-page booklet of information about getting started with instrumental music at Hillcrest. They’re invited to a halfday “jump start” music camp just before school starts, where they’ll learn to assemble, take care of, and make the  rst sounds on their new instrument. The packets also include a letter to the parents indicating that their child has demonstrated aptitude on their  rst and second choice instruments.

Target Audience

The target audience for this campaign is incoming 5th graders, supported by their parents. Other stakeholders include 4th-grade classroom teachers and elementary school principals, in addition to Hillcrest guidance and administration.

Overall budget


Specific Budget Breakdown

Out of the encumbered $1,500.00, whatever is unspent is reabsorbed back into the budget. Expenses include paper and photocopying for the informational packet, letters home to students and their families, and “BORC” Bucks. These are photocopied “funny money” that band and orchestra students can earn from their music teacher as an extrinsic reward. This money is spent in a “school store” set up in the band room; merchandise includes candy, music-themed pencils, instrument case tags, brightly colored duct tape for identifying instrument cases. Over the course of the 2-year program, every effort is made to transition the students from these external motivators to intrinsic motivation.

New or recurring project?


How did you update/change this project from its previous occurrence?

A new policy passed down via administration required that ONLY students who filled out a form and specifically marked that they were interested in band would be allowed to be fitted for and try out instruments. Mr. Lippmann hopes that by continuing to hold this session as a group in each 4th grade classroom (as opposed to pulling only the students who marked band out of the classroom for this experience), it will keep attrition to a minimum. The policy affected the orchestra program much more deeply, because they had fewer touchpoints. They had to pull the orchestra-interested kids from the classroom to demonstrate their instruments, so the other students were not exposed to strings.

Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?

Year after year, fully 50% of each incoming class is a student in Mr. Lippmann’s band room. This year, that’s 440 students.

One hundred fifty students attend each “jump start” beginning band camp at a cost of $25.

Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?

Do what works with your personality! Sell your strengths to the students and their families, knowing that the kids will be the driving factor behind their choices.

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