Bridging The Gap between Middle School and High School – Part 3: What STUDENTS Can Do
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 STUDENTS Can Do…
High school instrumental students should serve as positive role models and present themselves as members of a student-centered program that middle school students would want to participate in throughout high school.
High school students can:
- Serve as intern instructors in the free “Summer Lesson Program” for beginning students. The high school students would beneﬁt immeasurably from this type of peer coaching and the beginners would soon view these high school students as role models.
- Offer to teach group lessons during the year or even assist with tutoring in a supervised setting. High school seniors could sit in on rehearsals at the middle schools to provide musical leadership in the various sections.
- Participate actively in all recruitment activities and performances. High school students serve as the best public relations for the program because they provide their own unique perspective to its value. They can thus be positioned to demonstrate their acquired leadership skills by serving active roles in all aspects of the program. These students should be featured prominently.
- Remain engaged in a substantive manner in the middle school program they came from because this demonstrates overtly that instrumental music reaches beyond the middle school years. Speak to students and parents from their former middle school about the advantages—both short-term and long-term—of active participation in instrumental music. Offer to serve as emcee for the middle school concerts or other appropriate events.
- Provide testimonials that show how participation in additional activities such as sports, cheerleading, drama, debate, etc., is possible. A photo of a football player in uniform holding his trombone sends a great message that students can participate in music along with other activities. Speak with other students who may have objections to staying in the program and guide them in how it can be accomplished—especially with regard to scheduling. A short speech or presentation at the beginning of a rehearsal period can help greatly. Any objections the high school student can address while the prospective student is still in eighth grade will provide a better chance of keeping that student than trying reverse the decision to drop the program once it has already been made.
GO BACK TO PT 2 – What Parents Can Do
GO FORWARD TO PT 4 – What Music Supervisors Can Do