Since the start of my professional career, either by design or by decree, I've been closely involved in recruiting students. I would like to think I've build a bit of a reputation as a program builder.
Beyond anything I've done as a player, conductor, or teacher, one common theme has been the ability to attract students to programs, but year round academic programs and summer festivals.
Some people think this is not a teachable skill, that you either "have it" or you don't. I do not believe this is the case.
Recruiting is a skill, something that can be studied, practiced, and personalized. I've learned quite a bit talking to hundreds (if not thousands) of students and parents over the last 15 years. What works, what doesn't and what it really takes to get someone into your program.
So, some thoughts, which may or may not turn into a larger lecture/clinic/presentation
Meet people where they are:
Most often, if you are being brought into a program to "build" or "develop" you are likely taking over a program that has been neglected, or was never fully developed in the first place. You have high expectations, clear ideas as to what you want to accomplish, and the personal talent to make it happen. But you don't have the people to impliment your vision.
The first thing you MUST NOT DO is "beat up" what you have...you need to meet the students you have where they are and build them up. Set a standard and hold them to it, but Don't lie to them ( "you are the most amazing group of students EVER"), BUT DON'T ATTACK THEM EITHER. You start with what you have, give them some early successes, and build from there.
Think about "quality of life" issues first
Again, try to score some quick victories. Is the studio dirty? - get it cleaned up. Instruments need repair, do some simple repairs to make things function better. Lost equipment? Create an inventory. Take care of them a little, and they will take care of you.
Think about the culture
Be around. Go to student concerts. Check out their rehearsals. Show them you care about what they are doing now. If you are at a college program, visit the academic advisor and get the course outlines. Set a standard and show that you are involved. Take an interest in the students. Ask how their classes are going... Let them know you care and that you are paying attention.
Have some early victories
create opportunities for the students to achieve. Get them on a concert series, bring them to a local school to perform. Invite guests to work with them. Don't apply to PASIC after a year, but create opportunities for them succeed.
Just a few suggestions. Step two.... What do you do when you've started to build something. Adjusting expectations, raising the bar, and creating a competitive yet inclusive environment.
This blog is regularly updated with my thoughts, opinions and views. They are mine alone.