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More to Start, Fewer to Quit | December 2022

This month's MSFQ tips come from Dr. Charles T. Menghini, President Emeritus, VanderCook College of Music and Co-Author of Essential Elements Band Method.


During the upcoming break, take a few minutes to think back about last year’s recruiting efforts. Identify those events, activities, and communications that worked well. If there was something that did not go as well as hoped, determine why and what could have been done to make it more successful. Talk to colleagues to see if you can “borrow” anything from their bag of recruitment tricks.

Also, think through the instrumentation your recruitment efforts yielded. Determine the size of next year’s starting class and set some preliminary instrumentation goals for next year. It is also important to take a hard look at why students may have quit this year — call to speak with the parents to try and get the most “honest” answer as to the reason(s) why. Finally, have a conversation with your school music dealer to talk about this year’s efforts and to start planning for next year’s recruiting season.


We often focus on students and parents when it comes to retention, but some of our biggest allies can be our colleagues, the classroom teachers, and support staff. During the year it is inevitable that there are activities and events that disrupt their schedules. It can be for pull-out lessons, field trips, or those days when your rehearsal runs a minute or two late. Taking a few moments to write a message to them thanking them for their work in the classrooms and their support of the music program will mean a great deal to many. Don’t forget to include the counselors, administrators, and custodial staff.


This is the time of year to assess your wants and needs for your program. Once the first of the year rolls around, the annual budget cycle comes to an end. This is a great time to visit with your administrator to see if there is any money left in the budget for your program. If no funds are available, then it segues to a perfect time to begin to talk about the future needs of the program (like instruments, equipment, music, etc.) and how best you can prepare information and requests for inclusion in next year’s budget.

I wish you and your students a wonderful holiday season.


Dr. Charles T. Menghini

President Emeritus, VanderCook College of Music, Chicago, IL
Co-Author, Essential Elements Band Method, Hal Leonard LLC
Educational Member, Music Achievement Council, NAMM
Host, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends

More about Dr. Menghini

DR. CHARLES T. MENGHINI is President Emeritus of VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Menghini served as Professor of Music and Director of Bands from 1994 – 2017. Prior to his appointment at VanderCook, he spent 18 years as a high school band director in Missouri and Kansas where his bandsearned national acclaim.

Charlie is Co-Author of the Essential Elements Band Method published by Hal Leonard, LLC and is an Educational Member of the Music Achievement Council for NAMM. He also hosts his own podcast, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends available on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.

Active as a speaker, clinician and conductor around the nation, Menghini frequently presents at state and national music education conferences, works with teachers and school districts in a variety of forums and continues to write for professional magazines and journals. Dr. Menghini is a past recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Midwest Clinic for his life’s work as a band director, teacher, and educator.

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