It’s almost here! A brand new school year is about to begin and a whole new group of students is about to join your program! Can you tell we’re excited?
We absolutely love this time of year. It’s packed to the brim with opportunities to welcome new student performers into the fold. And the perfect time to get them excited about everything your program holds for them this year – camaraderie, competitions and (hopefully!) some incredible travel experiences. Whether you’re welcoming freshmen or older students that are new to your program, these newbies are most likely nervous about all they don’t know about music and performing. And most have never traveled. So here are a few things to keep in mind as you kick off an awesome school year.
The best kind of peer pressure
As much as you want to set expectations and foster a great sense of community within your group, you’ll never be as cool to your new students as the upperclassmen and section leaders of your program. If your new students didn’t have the opportunity to attend band camp, make sure they can plug in with some of the students that you’ve identified as leaders. Encourage each of your sections to have their own “bonding” time – they can practice together, watch movies, make matching t-shirts – anything that helps build that feeling of belonging that new students will be drawn to. The result, beyond giving these newcomers an instant group of friends, is that the expectations that your experienced students are already familiar with will be passed down. Make those expectations part of your normal routine – for example, ask your students “What happens if we’re late for a concert?” Everyone answers, “We have to clean the band room for the next month.” Positive peer pressure works every time.
Don’t hype alone
If you’ve included performance travel in your program this year (and we hope you have!), you’ll want to take advantage of the new school year to promote your upcoming trip. But this isn’t a job for you to take on all by yourself. The best way to create buzz around your trip is to once again utilize the cool factor of your upperclassmen and section leaders. New students will readily believe their peers when they hear about how much fun last year’s trip was. Encourage your past student travelers to bring pictures, tell stories and share what they loved about the trips they’ve taken as a group. Parents are extremely helpful in this promoting process as well. Consider holding a meeting for new parents early in the year, but make sure to invite a few trusted past parents as well. As much as you’ll answer questions and address concerns, parents will always feel more comfortable hearing from other parents.
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We hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer! Our next post will give you the behind the scenes peek into what we’ve been up to over these last summer months. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss it!