Music Ed Mentor Podcast #016: Retention Tips

Music Ed Mentor Podcast #016: Retention Tips

A great recruitment strategy is key to keeping your program healthy and maintaining or increasing enrollment. Equally important is to retain the students you already have. Making sure that kids don’t run off for a shiny new elective is just as important as getting them in your door in the first place.

So what more can we offer students to keep them interested and engaged with music? In this episode, I speak with Scott Lang, founder of Be Part of the Music, about how we can keep students coming back year after year. Scott’s an incredibly passionate speaker and advocate, and he has hands-on tips for keeping your enrollment numbers up.

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In This Episode, You’ll Learn How To:

  • Retain more of your current students
  • Empower student leaders
  • Figure out why students quit
  • Make sure you’re retaining the right students over the long term

Get the retention tips

I’ve compiled Scott’s best tips on retention into a handy checklist. Download it and use it to plan your retention strategy this spring.

Download the free checklist

Three Key Takeaways

“Number one, you want to retain the right students.”

It’s important that every student have access to music education, but not every student will have the same level of passion for music. You want to retain the students who are passionate about music, who want to be in your class. That doesn’t mean that you only want students who will go on to be music majors. Kids join music for all sorts of reasons; they aren’t all headed to Julliard. What’s important is that you retain the students who want to be there.

“Understand your community.”

Communicating the importance of music educationand why students should stay involved with musicgets much easier when you understand your audience. What works for high schoolers won’t necessarily work for elementary school parents. What works for a teacher in a rural areawhere internet access may be limitedwon’t work for a teacher in the suburbs. Take your community into account when working on retention (or recruitment).

“Recruit your own kids first.”

There are kids in your ensemble that are burned out, unhappy, or struggling. Retaining those students is the best way to make sure that your program stays healthy and enrollment stays high. You have access to those students and can work with them directly, so much of the “recruitment” work has already been done for you.


Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, grow, and manage thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country, and serves as the conductor of her local community band. She has been teaching music for nearly 20 years and currently holds the prestigious position of elementary music teacher at a private K-8 Catholic School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Elisa was a top presenter at the NAfME National Conference in 2017 and will be presenting at state conferences in 2018. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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