Bridging The Gap between Middle School and High School – Part 2: What PARENTS Can Do
PART 2 – Tips For Ensuring A Seamless Music Education Experience, Curated from the Music Achievement Council and the NAMM Foundation –
Students continue to participate in our music education programs because they cannot imagine school without the meaningful engagement that our courses provide. Yet, for one reason or another, not all of our students continue their participation throughout their high school years. In fact, it’s the transition from middle school to high school that has been identiﬁed as being the most crucial period in retaining our students.
The key to successful retention is ACTION. On the next pages are a number of strategies that successful instrumental music educators and their constituents use to ensure a seamless transition from the ﬁrst day that the student picks up their instrument through high school graduation—and beyond.
What PARENTS Can Do…
Parents speaking to other parents provides a more candid snapshot of the beneﬁts of participating in the high school instrumental music program.
High school parents:
- Create partnership opportunities to come together with middle school parents. In the same way that the high school and middle school directors must work together to ensure seamless transition within the instrumental music program, parent leaders must do the same. High school parents can break down a number of barriers— including language barriers—so high school parent leaders should partner with the middle school parent leaders to reach out to all parents.
- Offer assistance and expertise to the middle school parents to energize their efforts and help ensure success in their activities. Because high school parents have been involved for a longer period, they have a longitudinal view of the program.
- Host an “Informational Parent Night” for the middle school parents; high school parents have their own, distinctive perspective from that of the director(s). Directors will naturally encourage students to continue to participate in the program, but high school parents can provide unique insights for prospective incoming parents.
- Invite the parents of the eighth-graders who will be performing at “Marching Band Night” to the football game as guests. In this way, middle school parents will see their students participating as a member of the high school band program. High school parents could host a meeting/reception for the eighth-grade parents while students are warming up prior to the game. This will provide an inviting, casual opportunity for parents to speak openly to each other about the program. Involve the parents of the eighth-grade students as soon as possible so that they become engaged in the program.
- Share experiences by mentoring eighth-grade parents individually so that open lines of communication may be established as early as possible. The job of the mentoring parent is to address all concerns of the eighth-grade parent and ensure continued participation of the student. It can even go as far as like instrument mentoring— high school ﬂute parents with middle school ﬂute parents, for example.
- Extend personal invitations to the assigned eighth-grade parents to attend and bring their students to the high school performances. The parents that already have a band student in high school in addition to one in middle school can be especially effective in showing the importance of continuing on to the high school program.
- Offer to host some of the middle school parent meetings in the high school facilities. The more that middle school parents see themselves in the high school, the more obvious it becomes that instrumental music is a program that continues beyond the immediate level.
- Prepare a dinner or potluck supper for the middle school students and their parents just before a joint concert or create a special awards dinner for both middle school and high school students.
GO FORWARD TO PT 3, What Students Can Do
GO BACK TO PT 1, What Directors Can Do