How Northern Lehigh Boosted Beginner Recruitment by 127%

A letter from Mr. David M. Carroll, Northern Lehigh High School/Middle School Band Director

Dear Fellow Educators,

Changes in staffing and scheduling over the past several years in our school district have presented serious new challenges and demanded changes to our approach for instrumental recruitment. So we adopted a new aggressive and dynamic approach to recruiting new members to the band program in the Northern Lehigh School District. These changes have been successful and are part of a larger plan to make our music programs one of the most dynamic educational systems in the school district. Together with Zeswitz Music, our partners in education, we were able to meet our initial goals as we strive toward a brighter future for music in our schools.

              Over a year ago our music department began to plan a new path to success for our band program. That philosophy is to develop strong fundamental skills and develop a lifelong love of music through instrumental performance. “Teach them the basics and make it fun.” Working with our new elementary band director and Zeswitz Music we were successful in the initial phase of our plan. Our Zeswitz Music representative, Mr. Tom Pawlikowski, has brought a wealth of experience and expertise to this process.

Phase 1: The first phase of the plan was to introduce the band program in a more dynamic way to students before they enter fourth grade. We achieved this goal through a “meet the instrument night” last spring for all third grade students and their parents.

We started with a brief initial meeting and moved quickly into the solo instrument demonstrations. Our high school students who were very eager to help presented the demonstrations. After the instrument demonstrations were complete, each family was able to go to a variety of instrument stations and “sample” each of the instruments first hand. Each of the high school students was given instruction on how to teach the children to hold the instrument properly and how to create a first sound.

Students try instruments for the first time at a Meet the Instrument Night hosted by Zeswitz Music

Students try instruments for the first time at a Meet the Instrument Night hosted by Zeswitz Music

The high school students who were assisting this process understood how extremely important this initial contact with the instruments is for the children. It was a very positive evening which led to a dramatic increase in students entering the program. This process was possible only because Zeswitz Music was able to supply all of the demonstration instruments which were maintained and in great playing condition. Tom Pawlikowski, our Zeswitz representative, was also on hand that evening to coordinate the continuous sterilizations of the mouthpieces that were used in the process and to provide each participant with a new reed as the situation demanded.


Next Steps: We also plan to better prepare the students in third grade to begin the transition into our instrumental music program by introducing the flutophone as part of the general music experience and by creating greater exposure to band instruments in school before they get to the spring demonstration night. We can also create opportunities for older students to join the program in elementary school by making the “Petting Zoo” a school wide initiative, not just for third graders. We have taken a small step toward meeting our goals for the future at Northern Lehigh. Zeswitz Music’s partnership with our professional staff has helped foster greater participation in our band program and I am very grateful for the assistance that they have provided, particularly Tom Pawlikowski, who has been invaluable.

Mr. David M. Carroll

Northern Lehigh High School/Middle School Band Director

David Carroll is the senior member of the Northern Lehigh Music Department. He is in his 25th year as a professional music educator and band director and is  in his 19th year at Northern Lehigh

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under Educators.