St. Francis Prep Music Department Promo Video
In the summer of 2016, upon returning from our summer concert tour to Rome and Assisi, we felt a great way to draw attention to our program would be to produce a video that showcases our department’s attributes, history, and various highlights of what we have provided our students. We recognized that we had made “all the connections” of a Franciscan education with the tour. Assisi was the home of our patron saint, Francis of Assisi who himself was a singer and composer. To be able to walk in his footsteps, in his hometown, to perform concerts there, to see what our faculty and staff talk about relative to Franciscanism (history, religion, art, poetry, Music, service, etc.), as well as to share our Musical gifts and get the good word out about our school, we felt there was a need make a special record of this special trip. This first video was completed in early October 2016, and was utilized heavily at our school’s Open House, as well as at concerts, and performances of guest organizations (including the Paul Effman Music Service New York Honor Band). Ultimately, its purpose was multifaceted. First, we wanted to draw attention to the major components of our program, specifically the scope of our offerings, as well as share commentary from faculty and students. We also wanted to highlight our ongoing major construction project that is profoundly changing the physical environs of our department. Finally, we wanted to showcase the fact that we tour every other year, and how students, through diligent work, can earn a seat in one of our elite touring ensembles. This was all done with a “Franciscan lens,” espousing the importance of community and feeling welcome and nurtured in all our ensembles and classes. The video also serves as a way to let parents of our current students take a deeper look into who we are, and what benefits are afforded their children over the course of their high school career. We therefore see the video as a major piece of our recruiting efforts. Since we began using the video, we have seen a marked increase (8%, being over 60 students) in enrollment in our specialty courses alone. We also feel that the video is well produced, and stands as an example for our entire school community. During our last Middle States accreditation visit in 2018, it was pointed out that Music is “leading the way,” in terms of marketing and promotion.
There are multiple targets for this project. The first would be for students and families who are considering attending our school. The video gives them an engaging look into who we are, what we do, what we have accomplished over the years, and what the future holds. It defines what is available to them as a Music student at our school. The second target is families and students of guest ensembles. We host concerts for grammar schools, as well as the Paul Effman Music Service New York Honor Band. These students and families get to perform in our auditorium, as well as see the video. In short, we are planting a seed. The third would be our own students, including those who are enrolled in beginner classes. This is done for two reasons. The first is for beginner parents to see the scope of the program, and the second is for current Music parents to see our own perspective of who we are. Extended family also gets to see the video, and in turn, spread the good word. Families get to see just what their children are doing, as well as see what future opportunities are open to them.
Overview of planning and execution process for this project
The idea of the video came out of a collaborative discussion between Music faculty members, the head of our Music parent association, and a member of our school’s Alumni Board, who is a professional photographer and director. We felt that we had made “all the connections” of a Franciscan education with our 2016 concert tour to Rome and Assisi. Assisi was the home of our patron saint, Francis of Assisi who himself was a singer and composer. To be able to walk in his footsteps, in his hometown, to perform concerts there, to see what our faculty and staff talk about relative to Franciscanism (history, religion, art, poetry, Music, service, etc.), as well as to share our gifts and get the good word out about our school, we felt there was a need make a special record of this special trip. This, coupled with ongoing construction and improvements, as well as highlighting the Music program as whole, the concept of a producing a video was a “no-brainer.” We then began curating pictures and video both of the trip, as well as facilities, and the program at large. Concurrently, one of our Music faculty members wrote a script. There were a number of collaborative back and forth’s in terms of which visuals to use, as well as editing the script. The video was assembled, and the Music department was given two formal rounds of suggestions and changes. Finally, the finished product was ready for our Open House that October, roughly a +/- two month process.
Sponsors/charities/volunteers/ other groups involved in the project and the benefits to each.
The video was paid for from our Music department “expense fund,” which is separate from our approved operating budget. We raise money for projects that will help the department, such as the video, helping deserving students/families with tour expenses, or purchasing special equipment, for example, choral risers. This money is raised via raffles and such at our concerts, charitable donations from parents and friends, and free will offerings at special concerts we present at area venues.
Our program, which was already strong, and had been recognized by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, has grown significantly. We especially see record numbers of band students in our program, and the overall enrollment of the program is at an all-time high and percentage (according to our PowerSchool numbers, we teach Music to 1542 students, which is 62% of the student body.
Specific Budget Breakdown
A lump fee for the video director and video specialist.
New or recurring project?Recurring
How did you update/change this project from its previous occurrence?
We took what we felt were the positives from the first video, and updated new experiences the department had, for example, our 2018 tour to England. Different students and faculty were interviewed, and the focus of the video was refined to lead with the program as a whole, and what we offer Music students of all levels.
Challenges/obstacles that were encountered
We were lucky that the process went very smoothly. We saw it as a creative celebration of who we are, and what we do for our kids, and what they have accomplished. Whatever hurdles there were were worked out collaboratively, through a comparative process. For example, which picture looks better here? What wording works better in the script? etc..
Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?
We have been able to use the video for recruiting purposes. Again, we have seen a steady and marked increase in our Music enrollment, even in years when our overall school enrollment is lower than we would like. We feel we have been able to forge better relationships and new partnerships. Two examples would be with the Paul Effman Music Service New York Honor Band, a three tiered program that services approximately 400 5th-8th graders in the 50+ Catholic grammar schools in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese. We have been hosting this program going on three years. Another would be with the Aaron Copland School of Music, and being able to have a free exchange of resources and opportunities such as clinics with college professors for our high school students, and the opportunity for us to present at the 2018 Biennial NAfME-Collegiate/NYSSMA Conference. In turn, our doors have been open for numerous student teachers and observers. We have also been seeing capacity audiences at concerts at our school. Specifically, our “Spring Concert II” has been standing room only.
Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?
Take the time and care to enjoy and celebrate who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you know you can do!