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St. Francis Prep Music Recruiting

St. Francis Preparatory School, NY

6100 Francis Lewis Boulevard, Fresh Meadows, NY, USA
Director: Robert Johnston
Category: High School Recruitment Program
Award: Gold, 2019

Project Description

St. Francis Preparatory School’s Music Program is considered on of the major strengths of an already strong school. We teach Music to over 1,500 students in a program that includes 11 ensembles and 24 courses. This number includes our Music Lesson program and Introduction to Music classes. The strength of our program is rooted in student interest. Of course, the best recruiting is retention, but as a private school, without a dedicated feeder system, we must pay special attention to drawing new students to our school.

Over the years, we have developed a multi-faceted recruiting program that includes publicity and public relations and outreach programs, as well as curricular elements, such as our beginner program. In fact, one of the goals we set for our department when we became the first Music program ever accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, was enhanced publicity and public relations aimed at recruitment and audience development.

How do we get the good word out about what we do?

  • *We perform constantly, either in school, or in the outside community.
  • *We have an outreach program that includes a string, band, and percussion program at a local grammar school, and will be starting one in a second school this year.
  • *We invite feeder school bands to perform at our concerts in side-by-sides with our students.
  • *We host the Paul Effman New York Honor Band, so students can see our facilities and meet our students and teachers. Last year, 59 schools were represented, and there were roughly 400 student-musicians participating. (
  • *We have an annual “Hallelujah Project,” where potential feeder choirs, and adult parish coirs perform the Hallelujah Chorus with our choir and band.
  • *We have a professionally produced department video and brochure.
  • *We utilize an extensive mailing list for Music educators, Music ministers, and private teachers. Our Open House and major concerts are all publicized with letters. We also include brochures and concert vouchers.
  • *We speak directly to visiting priests and pastors when they attend services at our school (upwards of 20 priests and bishops).
  • *We developed a partnership with the Aaron Copland School of Music that includes an open door policy for student observers coming to us, and ACSM faculty visiting us. We also had two faculty members present at ACSM’s
  • *We regularly invite teaching artists such as Peter Loel Boonshaft and Susan Davis.
  • *We have regular clinics and/or consortium opportunities with composers such as Brian Balmages.
  • *One of our Music faculty members also serves as Co-Internal Coordinator for our Middle States accreditation (including our Program of Distinction of Music) AND Director of Publicity and Public Relations. In fact, earning the Program of Distinction necessitated we set long-term goals, which included a publicity and public relations component which is aimed at recruitment and audience development (
  • *We have our own Music department Instagram page (

Target Audience

The target audience for our efforts include potential students and their families, feeder school administrators and Music educators, local pastors (given we are a Catholic school), as well as aspiring Music educators, and collegiate programs. We are very focused on the value and importance of “word of mouth,” or the “word on the street.” We aim to impress. We also want our alumni to know what we have accomplished, and how we have grown since they graduated.

Overall budget


Specific Budget Breakdown

We pay for a portion of our brochure and voucher (including design fees). We pay for our video. The rest is not necessarily cost intensive, but for example, the school pays for our mailing costs.

New or recurring project?


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

Each year, our brochure and voucher is updated and printed. Our video is being done on what we anticipate to be a two year cycle. New letters for our mailing is written each year. Each year, we also assemble and present an advocacy plan that we present to our administration that includes all our recruiting and publicity efforts. We also update our progress on our Middle States goals, and engage in the yearly process of inviting guest schools for our concerts and the “Hallelujah Project.” We have regular conversation with our colleagues at Aaron Copland School of Music regarding our partnership, as well as the process of engaging our guest clinicians and composers. Our press releases change yearly.

Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?

We keep statistics on:

  • Total School Enrollment
  • Music Department Enrollment
  • Differential (Difference between drop in overall enrollment and rise in Music Department Enrollment) Percentage of student body for specialized Music classes
  • Introduction to Music enrollment
  • Total Music enrollment including Introduction to Music and Music Lessons
    Total Percentage of student body we teach
  • That said, we currently teach 62% of our student body.
  • The enrollment for our specialized Music classes has risen from 634 in 2011, to 839 in 2018.
  • In all, accounting for our Introduction to Music classes we currently teach 1,199 students, which is up from 979 in 2011 (not including our Music Lesson program).

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

Recruitment and retention are crucial to the survival of a program. We can not take our students’ enthusiasm for granted, as oftentimes, scheduling conflicts arise, and competition between departments can be fierce. It is in fact, quite rewarding to “get the good word out” about your department and your efforts, and the opportunity to build relationships is profoundly beneficial to the development and health of a program as well as the importance of a professional friendship with colleagues in the field. It is also very important to recognize that the stronger appeal we present to not only students, but parents, will strengthen a programs health. If parents want it, they oftentimes get it. Also, the stronger the Arts program, the stronger the school.

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