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Ethan Bautz

Sarah Crist

English 4

03 October 2017

Recruitment and Retainment in the Musical Arts

Keeping middle school students interested in the arts has become a rather complicated

task for teachers and parents. Being a part of music in school is a rewarding experience to any

child that is able to participate. The most tasking part of that experience is keeping the child

stimulated long enough in the program to experience that reward. More often then it should be

happening. Students drop out of musical arts after middle school. Teachers and parents can take

multiple different and tactics to boost recruitment and ensure retainment in the arts.

The way teachers and parents encourage and value the arts to their children is one of the

more critical points as to what keeps students interested in music post middle school. Music in

schools is thought of as unimportant. The sad truth is many non- music teachers and

administrators do not find music equally important as Math or English (Skelton 1). While having

these academic subjects is important to growth in knowledge and cognitive abilities and critical

thinking. Music is able to achieve the same if not greater higher thinking skills as these subjects.

For example you give a student a Music Theory worksheet and the student is asked to identify

each key signature and their relative minor keys along with the tonic triad of each of these keys.

The thought process in which the student has to use to solve this musical equation is equivalent

to the critical thinking skills that are necessary to solve an intricate math equation or analyze
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complicated literature. Parents and teachers are not willing to actually look in the benefits of

participating in music and it makes keeping children interested in the arts much more

complicated by keeping students unexposed to the true potential of musicianship, cognitive

thinking skills and improving senses such as hearing and internal rhythm and time.

While not having enough teachers and parents emphasizing how important the arts are to

their children. Motivating them to practice is another key component to ensuring the growth and

continued interest in music by the student. A common example of this is the practice for 30

minutes rule, in which a music teacher will recommend that the child practice thirty minutes a

day and generally increase this time as they get older (Cutietta 1). While this method would be

the simplest for the parent. It does not stimulate the child properly in the practice session because

it makes practicing seem like more of a chore than an opportunity to get better at one's

instrument. What is important is that the child knows the musical goal of each daily practice

session and feels motivated to be as efficient as possible while practicing in order to reach that

goal and feel that sense of accomplishment (Cutietta 2). This approach to practicing has proven

to be successful in beginning musicians and can be easily instilled by music educators and

parents who are willing to better their program and their child's musical ability by encouraging

good practice habits such the examples mentioned previously.

Recruitment in the arts can be challenging to parents and teachers. In most cases the

parents will encourage their children to pick up an instrument to put some kind of structure in

life and in other cases the child is born into a musically inclined family or is naturally interested

in music. These case scenarios have so much to do with recruitment in the arts because the

millennial generation is so involved with technology and social media it is making the numbers

of students starting a new instrument drop due to lack of interest. This lack of interest comes
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from lack of promotion by school programs and a surplus of children interested in sports and

lackadaisical activities such as video games and almost all free time in front of a TV screen.

Today's society has become highly involved in sports and technology that a desire for the arts is

literally dying out and certain schools have dropped funding for the arts entirely because of this

lack of interest. This problem has the potential to be fixed purely by the effort of the instructor

By being proactive and getting the parents involved and scheduling meeting and other events to

keep people informed and more importantly, interested!

Retainment in the arts is more of less complicated subject because at this point the child

is playing an instrument which means they have shown an interest in learning an instrument

which is half the battle already won. Keeping a child interested in music is entirely attainable

through keeping the student motivated and active within the program. For example setting high

standards for practice time, playing tests, fundraising with incentives and many other tactics to

keep the children interested and wanting more out of the musical arts. Another pressure on

student retention is that as students get older, the number of options available to them for

extracurricular activities increases. Band directors need to convince students that band provides

opportunities for musical expression, leadership development, and critical thinking. (Kordella 1).

Middle school directors particularly have the most influence in the convincing factor. For

example, you have a group of beginning students in a middle school band and they don't really

show as much interest in playing, they complain and below about how hard band is and the

director gives up and just goes through the motions until the end of the year comes and the

unmotivated students get an A plus for participation. In a situation like that those kids will more

than likely never do music again. It starts with motivation from the teacher to show the students

that yes it is hard to learn an instrument from scratch but at the same time setting a common goal
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and encouraging the students to practice and fight for success is completely attainable with a

director that is willing to put in the effort.

The Arts in schools sets a foundation in the creative side of young eager to learn

students. Without having some form of sustained creativity the next generation will grow up to

be unsophisticated and unable to express themselves in the way they desire. By encouraging

recruitment and retainment in the arts more young students will be able to be exposed to their

creative side and in many cases be able to relieve the stress of school or other problems they may

encounter in life.

Work Cited

How to Motivate Your Child to Practice. PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 7 May 2012,
Accessed 12 Oct. 2017.
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Why Students Really Quit Their Musical Instrument (and How Parents Can Prevent It)
The Music Parents' Guide, 3 Apr. 2015,
instrument-parents-can-prevent/. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

Kordella, Kara. A Guide to Recruitment and Retention for a Band Program., Bowling Green State University, 15 Dec. 2014,