Written by Ashleigh N. Miller
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 12:10
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
In my experience, two of the most difficult aspects of running and maintaining a professional organization are recruitment and retention. It can take tremendous effort to inform prospective members on campus that your organization exists. Getting your name out there by using a student listserv, flyers, sidewalk chalk, or word of mouth will help to increase membership. However, this is just one small aspect of running a successful organization. How else might you recruit students to your group? And more importantly, how are you going to keep them interested enough to keep coming back? Planning and organizing effective recruitment and retention, based upon each individual chapter’s needs, will help your chapter grow and maintain considerably higher membership levels.
When planning recruitment strategies, you must first consider what might motivate an individual to join your group and attend meetings. There are many reasons to join a college chapter of ACDA, including experience, networking, resume building, general education, or merely the love of choral music.
Bring in speakers and have them talk about subjects that may not be as familiar at your school. For example, your campus may not have a vocal jazz ensemble or an ensemble dedicated to Gregorian Chant. A speaker who has had experience either leading or participating in either of these ensembles will have a wealth of knowledge and ideas about the topic. Also, consider inviting a professor from a nearby school to speak about a specific program such as music therapy or ethnomusicology, which your members may find useful.
Organize a joint function with another music group on campus, such as the National Association of Music Education (MENC), the American String Teacher’s Association (ASTA), or the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). You could also collaborate with an honorary music fraternity such as Sigma Alpha Iota or Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. If members of these groups like what they see in your ACDA chapter, they are more likely to attend general meetings. Overall, this is a great way for your membership to network and make connections with other aspects of the music spectrum.
It has become increasingly important for anyone earning a degree in the field of music to have experience with all types of instruments. Every music degree is associated with some aspect of music education. Those majoring in related fields such as performance, therapy, or fine arts administration can consider attending ACDA meetings as mini seminars on the inner workings of the voice and choral music. A potential employer, who compares two resumes in search of a desirable music educator, will find evidence of accumulated professional development earned in other areas besides the primary major an indication that the candidate is open to learning new things and has the desire to develop further expertise. This will more than likely help the employer make the decision to hire the candidate with expanded experience.
Remember, your chapter does not need to be comprised of music majors exclusively. Many students involved in a college ensemble have an interest in learning more about how the ensemble operates. Consider recruiting from choir, band, and orchestra. Who knows, someone you recruit may discover a desire to audition for the music school. Also, there are organizations on campus not affiliated with the music school who could benefit from learning about choral ensemble training, such as an a cappella group, a student worship ensemble, or an independent barbershop quartet.
Above all, the most desired students for your ACDA chapter should be those with an appreciation for choral music. Support the love and passion for the art form by attending choir concerts in your area as a group. Promote your group by sponsoring a local choir or by sitting in on a dress rehearsal for a concert at your college or university.
Remember that recruitment should not be an endeavor that happens merely once each year or semester. Recruitment should be constant and ongoing. You may not spark an interest with a peer right away, but over time that student may realize just how important and interesting your ACDA chapter is. Stay positive and enthusiastic in your pursuits!
Now that you have successfully recruited membership, retention has become your primary goal. There are many ways to retain membership, and different ways may be better or worse for your specific ACDA chapter. General strategies that may work for most chapters, include utilizing your executive board in a positive manner, having open communication with your members via email, keeping your advisor handy, arranging mini-conventions (or symposiums), and having designated social events.
Probably the biggest thing to either make or break your chapter is your executive board. Remember to always keep in touch with the group, and do not run meetings based solely on what your E-board has to say. Continue to ask for input from the rest of the members, especially for what they expect from you and what they would like to see throughout the rest of the school year.
The chapter secretary should send out meeting minutes shortly after each meeting concludes. Distributing minutes will provide all members with a hard copy of everything discussed and allow for a stronger sense of inclusion with the group. Meeting minutes also log specific tasks assigned to the group and give each member a sense of accountability.
Just because you ask for help from your advisor, does not mean that you or your E-board are less than competent. It just means that you want to involve this valuable resource in your pursuits and that you value their opinion. After all, you do not know everything there is to know about running a chapter. They are called "advisor" for a reason!
Hosting a mini-convention or student symposium is a great way to bring about strategic networking with other university groups without large expenditures on the part of your membership for travel and lodging. Benefits include having a variety of speakers present a number of topics over the course of a few hours. Also, your membership can discuss which topics may be most important to them in the planning stage, such as a reading session on intermediate music or a question and answer forum featuring new teachers in the field. It is my belief that you can never have too many forums featuring new teachers and what they wish they had learned and experienced before they left campus. Every time I attend a symposium, I learn something new, and I am reminded of ideas discussed at previous workshops.
In the real world (a place that we are all working so hard to enter), people who work together, also play together. Often, some of our closest friends will be fellow staff or subject area colleagues. So, organize a social event once in a while! Meet at a restaurant for dinner, plan a group trip to a local coffeehouse, or arrange a potluck and barbeque in the late spring or early fall. Remember, any of these social events can also be great recruiting tools!
Ashleigh N. Miller is a senior at Central Michigan University, pursing a Bachelor of Music Education with a Choral Minor and a Bachelor of Science in English Education. In addition to membership in ACDA, she is a current in The National Association for Music Education (MENC), The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Sigma Alpha Iota, and Kappa Delta Pi. She has been a Student Representative to the ACDA-MI State Board since 2007.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 December 2009 12:25 )