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How to Recruit for this Fall

Let's be completely real. This last season and the one before it was probably kind of a mess. We had to wrap up a 2020 winter season with no idea what was going to happen and what to do with championships and school taken away from us so abruptly. Then the 2021 fall and winter seasons came about. Many schools just didn't have a fall season. They said farewell to their seniors through a screen and most didn't get to hold an instrument for their final concert.

Maybe you were one of the lucky schools or independent guards that managed to find a place and a way to keep your performers safe throughout this last winter season. Perhaps you got to send your videos into your circuit and into WGI and had a great time doing so. I am so very happy for you if you got to do this.

For others, like myself and my program at the high school I teach at, we opted to not have a winter program at all. Middle and high schools were completely virtual until January. Getting a space inside the school was hard, especially with other sports needing to spread their athletes out more. So we just didn't do it. And now we're facing a need for new members. I've had 2 waves of seniors graduate (or getting ready to graduate in a month or two) with no recruitment to replace their numbers. It's been a struggle, but I think I've found some foolproof ways to recruit more students. Remember, be patient. We're all learning together.

  1. Let your current members recruit around the high school for you. I hung up flyers and gave information to my vets before clinics started. Some of this information was even announced at the beginning of their school day. This by itself did not gain me any new current high schoolers, but it did bring me back two vets who had taken a season off.

  2. Middle school band directors are your best friend. If you're like me and haven't had a big middle school presence in recent years, you have no idea what appeals to these kids. Your middle school band directors not only see them every day, but they have some idea of what you could do to draw them in. (I have 3 middle school BD's and they all had some unique ideas for me).

  3. Put your energy into the incoming freshmen. This is not to say that other students are not important, but the 8th graders that will be in high school for the first time in a few short months are your best bet. They're all looking for something that will keep them involved and part of a group in high school. Make color guard that safe place where they can work hard, find something they love, and make some friends along the way.

With that said, here's a list of stuff I did at the middle schools to attract new students. I did all of this by myself (with some coordination help from my MS band directors) because I couldn't bring any current students with me to the schools.

  • printed out QR codes that linked to a google form for students to fill out

  • printed small slips of paper with my clinic dates and my email address

  • visited the MS during the 8th grade lunch period

  • got on stage while they were eating and spoke about guard, spun 32 counts of flag work

  • invited a couple of volunteers on stage to try spinning (this is only if your school is as relaxed as mine. I had to bring multiple flags).

  • passed out my QR codes and paper slips to all of the tables

I hope this information helps someone. Let me know in the comments if you do something that works really well or if you tried something new this year. We're all figuring this out together and I'd love to see us all bounce back.


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