Ideas to Organize and Grow Your New Horizons Group
by Lori Schuett
Peterborough New Horizons Bands
The following article was written in response to a request for information about recruiting and organizing from a New Horizons International Music Association survey done in 2007.
The very structure of an organization creates the opportunity for new players to easily join in and is an integral part of your recruiting process. There are various ways to welcome new players into your band.
One way is to encompass a pyramid format of three or four levels with the base being beginners, usually the largest group. This framework allows you to market each year for “Green” recruits, those who are at the entry level and have little or no musical experience. They rehearse and take lessons for several months together until they are confident to move into the next level group. This group is playing at a beginner level and largely made up of the previous year’s “Green” members. From that level, players can move to a third or intermediate level. From there members can move to a fourth level consisting of players who tackle the most advanced music. You can advertise an organization that provides space for everyone no matter what their level of ability. New members are often your best advertisers because they are always on a level of sheer excitement and learning, an infectious spirit for sure, and they spread the word as much as the seasoned players. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to bring in new people.
Another way to incorporate new players into your group is to provide private or small group lessons and as soon as possible bring them into the band or orchestra and adapt the music so they can play something successfully in the more advanced group. It usually helps to pair them up with someone who can offer encouragement and simple assistance if needed. It’s important that the new musician can succeed without intimidation or pressure.
Whatever your numbers or structure, a friendly, welcoming spirit will work wonders in advancing your group to levels you wouldn’t have thought possible. And the happiness and rewards of making music with friends will appeal to a large segment of adults in your area.
There are a number of strategies that will reward your New Horizons group with new recruits. No one method is better than another, but rather the whole publicity process needs to be an on-going integrated one. The key is to promote wherever, however, you can. Here is a brief description of some promotional activities other groups have used. Hopefully you may find that some of these ideas can be adapted to suit your unique situation.
Successful Recruiting Strategies for New Horizons
1) Media Mania
First it’s necessary to cultivate a good relationship with local media. Before every concert issue a press release with all the local media. This includes small newsletter publications, city papers, and local radio and television stations. Most media have an arts and information calendar, free of charge, for your listing.
Encourage television stations and the print media to conduct interviews and tell the interesting stories of your group, group members and directors.
Your local cable station may be supportive in taping personal interviews and rehearsals to broadcast in conjunction with special events their station is promoting. They may even make a quality CD to use in your advertising.
Offer concert tickets to the radio stations which they give away in phone in contests.
Create posters advertising your concerts and have members place them in a variety of well traveled places such as the local library, shopping center and grocery stores.
Nothing works as well as a personal invitation. Create postcards and e-mail messages with pertinent information for group members to send to friends and family.
2) Mall Day
At a local shopping mall arrange for small ensemble groups to play throughout the day. Get the media to cover the event live, and provide an information table supervised by group members who answer questions, hand out brochures and information packages. Again get names on a sign up list. From this list call each one to remind them of the upcoming information day and to discuss instruments and related questions they may have.
3) Information Day
Host an Information Morning for prospective members just before your start date. Promote the event (and your group) through the local media, posters, and invitations. At this venue have various members demonstrate their instrument so that potential recruits can learn about the instrument and decide if this is what they would like to play.
Show the International NH video to provide the historical background and conclude the morning with refreshments.
Have a sign in system to get contact information from each guest. A group member needs to follow up by contacting each individual to discuss their plans and instrument choices.
4) Ensemble Concerts
Create a beautiful brochure explaining the NH concept and your group’s information (there’s one you can use on the New Horizons Start up DVD). These should always be available at any of your public events.
Business cards are an inexpensive way to give out your contact information, too.
Create your own logo, or use the New Horizons music logo to grace your print material and possibly a variety of clothing such as shirts, vests, and jackets which your group members can wear with pride.
5) Search the Web
Create a web site that includes information about your group, how to join, lots of photos, concerts, events and contact information. Personal biographies of your members and newsletters can also be posted. Keep your site updated regularly.
Create a Board of Directors. You need a team of enthusiastic supporters who are willing to share ideas and help out wherever they can.
In the end, it is word of mouth from enthusiastic members that is still one of the most powerful forms of advertising. Wherever you are talk about your NH musical group. You never know, it may be a person you run into waiting for car repairs or your waiter in a restaurant! Publicity is a project that is always evolving and needs constant attention, creativity, hard work, and commitment. But remember, anywhere you are there is the possibility of getting someone to learn the joys of music and have as much fun as you do!