band member retention rates.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bandman, May 8, 2006.

  1. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    In my old band room I had huge letters painted on the wall that read:

    The 4 ingredients of a Superior Band:

    1) Practice
    2) Self-discipline
    3) Good Attitudes
    4) More Practice


    The band director that took my job when I left (he’s still trying to take my place) painted over that recipe for success. In four years he has taken my program of 411 (when I left) and it is now down to 130, and next year I understand they will be lucky to have 100. We had 25-years of straight superior ratings, and about a 95% retention rate with kids that came from the poorest neighborhoods in our district. I was so proud to say I was the band director at that school. Eventually things just got so bad with the administration that I couldn't take it any longer and had to leave to preserve my sanity.

    You put those 4 ingredients together and you get PRIDE, and pride is what makes a band good. My kids would come before school, after school, and at lunch to play in the band room. All lessons were free, but I got paid back with respect, and had fun with bands that could play the dots off of the page.

    At my new school we are just starting to get the pride flowing, and now students from every part of my school are coming and asking how they can join the band. Funny thing, when I mention getting lessons and working with me over the summer to start getting caught up with the kids that are already in band, many of them walk in the other direction. They want the fun with out the work that goes with it.

    One of the nicest compliments I got this year from a student in band was “…you talk about work, we never work in here. We just play our horns!†It’s great when you can work hard and practice at something and it has become fun to do so! Some kids just don’t understand that concept. My fear is that they may never be great at anything because they don’t want to put in the time and effort to become great at something.
     
  2. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

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    Retention: I have a middle school program with about 210 kids in it out of a school population of around 1000. I started 75 beginners and have had 2 or 3 quit. They were kids who didn't like the amount of work involved in practicing their instrument. In my district we have an army fort. That makes the kids pretty transient. I have had several move away and several move in. Between beginner year (6th grade) and 7th grade I usually lose about 10 kids. I never really checked to see how many quit and how many moved away. Between 7th and 8th grades I lose 4 or 5 more. So I usually start out with about 75 or so in beginner band and finish up with 60 or so. This year's 8th grade has 64.

    I have a LOT of kids who don't go on to high school band. The main reason is the marching thing. Marching band eats up 2 weeks of summer and every Friday night and Saturday afternoon from September through October. If you don't march, you are in "Concert Band". In past years this has been basically an ensemble of the poorer players with a few really good kids who can't march because of sports, job, etc. This year I have 48 of the 65 8th graders staying in band. Many of my best players are going to concert band because they are athletes. I'm kind of glad that Concert Band is getting some good musicians next year. Maybe it will encourage more of the good kids to stay in and get the h.s. director to look at priorities. The "Symphonic Band" is really anybody who is willing to march. That keeps the ensemble from playing anything above grade V.
     
  3. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    Mike,

    That is about a 93% retention rate, which is exemplary! Congratulations! You obviously have students who enjoy being in your class!

    I'd also like to say congratulations to your high school for having a band class where students can be in band and not march! I've gotten about 20 emails since posting this exact thread on several boards. Marching band drop out is a common theme from both directors and students. Most Emails have said that they have athletes that would like to be in band but can't because the schools make them choose between marching band and athletics.

    I've had a few great athletes come through my program including Gil Meche, who now makes $3.7 million per year pitching with the Seattle Mariners. When Gil was in 8th grade I told him he needed to concentrate on band because he wasn't big enough to play high school baseball. Thank God he didn't listen to me!

    Gil once told me that he would have loved to have been in band in high school but he could not play sports and be in the band. He was my best trumpet player in his 8th grade year and probably had enough talent to be an all-state player and probably could have gone to college on a music scholarship. They lost a great player for concert and stage band when they sent him packing off to the athletic field.

    He’s just one example of thousands of kids like him that we lose every year because we are not allowing students to do more than one thing in high school. I have taught other students turned athlete in high school that missed out on playing in the college band after they either didn’t make a college team, or even worse, were injured in high school and had to drop out of athletics and the band directors were stupid enough to not take them back into the band program.
     
  4. Fudleysmith

    Fudleysmith Pianissimo User

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    Niantic, CT
    Bandman,

    Check your math. :?: I believe that the numbers indicate an 80% retention rate. :-)

    Fudleysmith
     
  5. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Yee HAW!
    Fudley... give the man a break! He's a music teacher, not a math teacher! LOL. (Congrats, Bandman)
     
  6. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    I checked my math and I'm correct. The statistical analysis of retention rates is a year-to-year item, not 5th grade to 8th grade.

    He started out with 75 fifth graders and retained 93% per year.

    75 x 93% = 69.75 6th graders
    69.75 x 93% = 64.8675 7th graders
    64.8675 x 93% = 60.32 8th graders

    That equates to a retention rate of 93% per year.

    Using the figure of 93% and assuming that only 80% of his 8th graders join high school band, and then if we assume that the high school band director can keep 80% per year through the 3 transition years in high school, you would have:

    60 x 80% = 48 9th graders
    48 8 80% = 38.4 10th graders
    37.4 x 80% = 30.72 11 graders
    30.72 x 80% = 24.576 12th grades

    If those numbers remain as an average this gives you 141 students in the high school band from one feeder school. Assuming that there are 2 or 3 feeder schools of common size the high school should have a band with well over 300 members, in fact it would not be impossible to expect this band to grow to near 400 members and that is allowing for a much larger attrition rate from the other 2 feeder schools.

    This is why the retention rates are so important, and also why we calculate the retention rates year by year, not over the course of 8 years. 25 seniors from a beginner class calculates to only 33%, but looking at the annual retention you realize that 25 seniors from a beginners band class of 75 is really an excellent rate – it would easily be far above the national average.


    .
     
  7. Fudleysmith

    Fudleysmith Pianissimo User

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    My apologies. I didn't read the full post, :oops: just the quote that bandman included. I do believe that Mike's beginner band started in 6th grade though, so one of the factoring year seems to be in excess.

    Fudleysmith
     
  8. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    He's still be at 90% or so -- still very good considering that I'm getting replies from people all over the country suggesting that they lose 20-30% per year.
     
  9. connloyalist

    connloyalist Pianissimo User

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    I feel the need to reply to this post eventhough I am not in any of the categories: I am not a band director, I am not in school. I don't even live in the U.S.! So perhaps this is more for perspective than anything else. Read this as you will.

    Here in the Netherlands (where I have lived since I was 4 years old) schools don't have band programs of any kind. It just doesn't exist. In stead, there are lots of community bands and "music schools" which have nothing to do with "normal" school. You can learn to play an instrument in both a community band and at a music school. In my experience these music schools are much more expensive than a community band and usually don't have a real "band", just perhaps a small group of students playing together. Some community bands (including the one I have been in for 27 years) have professional music teachers, "student bands" where kids learn to play together, kids take music exams and when they have passed the right exams are allowed to play in the "A" band. Since these community bands are not connected to school in any way these kids sometimes will remain a member into their 70's (at which point they stop playing and become honorary members for having been with the band for 60 or so years), or move away to someplace else (where they often join the local band). This of course is for the kids that stay on. I don't know what the retention rate is. My feeling says that of those who join and start to learn to play, perhaps 20% make it to the "A" band (our current problem is that the "A" band has no room for some instruments. Fortunately, our current student band is very popular, the kids love it). And yes, we have had adults in their 40's join, learn to play an instrument, take the exams and join the "A" band.

    Somewhere somebody mentioned "slow learners" who may get washed out but would have turned into good players. Very true. I consider myself to be in that category.

    As for the marching band thing. Since around here these are community bands which govern themselves, its up to the band. These days most bands either march or "sit" but not both. In years passed the local band would do both, but most bands have specialized. One reason is because "marching band" events are usually not sporting events but some event in the local community for which the band gets hired. We used to do that, marching up and down the street, but there came a point where a majority of the members didn't really want to do that anymore and the "market" for such things was pretty slim with the specialist marching bands taking most of the work. So we decided to concentrate the "seated" engagements. We quite often get hired to play in an area shopping center, e.g. Peak periods are late April-June, August-September and Christmas (sometimes outside in the cold and the snow. Good money for the band though). Many people take vacation in July so the band "closes" for about 4-6 weeks in the summer.

    Oh, and as for memorizing music in marching band: I only know of one person who had memorized the music, everone else read from music (lyre holder, etc.). Anyway, if you want to play in a marching band, you join a marching band. If you want to play in a concert band, join a concert band. Ditto a big band. There will always be a few in the area.

    Regards, Christine
     
  10. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    Christine,

    Thanks for a wonderful thought filled reply. It's always great to hear the opinion of our brothers and sisters outside the United States. Our country is so very large that we Americans often forget that there are opinions from throughout the world that can help us put things into proper perspective. I guess that statement is true for many things, most of them not having anything to do with music.

    Again, thanks for your reply,

    Dave
     

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