You have Friends in High Places
By Dr. Charles Menghini
In 1990, country music star Garth Brooks released a hit single from his album No Fences titled, “Friends in Low Places.” It’s a great song and a very catchy tune. As a music educator, in addition to any friends you may have in “low places,” you also have some friends in some very “high places.”
In order for us to be successful in our school band and orchestra programs it is important for us to realize that we have a network of friends ready, willing and able to help.
At the forefront of this list is your school music dealer. Your school music dealer should be someone with whom you have developed a great relationship. In my 38 years of teaching I cannot tell you the number of times I was rescued by my school music dealer. To my dealer it didn’t matter if it was an emergency repair, doing some research on models of new instruments or equipment for an upcoming bid request or that I needed some more music folders.
The really great music dealers in this country, and there are many, realize that you are more than a business customer. You are a part of their business family. In short, this is a relationship. Their interests in you and your program go beyond your classroom and into your communities. They want to see students enroll in band and orchestra. They want to see music alive and thriving in their communities. They too see the inherent good that comes from successful participation in school band and orchestra programs.
If you have not reached out to introduce yourself to your local school music dealer, do yourself a favor and pick up the phone and call them right now. Visit their store or better yet, invite them to visit your school to watch you in action. Learn of the many ways they can be of service to you and your school program.
I have a great friend, George Quinlan, Jr., President of Quinlan and Fabish Music Company in the Chicago area. We routinely ask George to come and speak to our college music education majors, and he often tells them that their music dealer can play a vital role in recruiting and retaining students in the school music program. Whereas a director may recruit students only once a year, your dealer probably works with dozens if not hundreds of schools, and they have developed and refined the recruitment process, making presentations to students and parents day after day through those vital fall and spring recruitment seasons.
Like our professional organizations, music dealers have their professional networks too. Check to see if your dealer is a member of the NASMD, the National Association of School Music Dealers. If not, encourage them to learn more about it and to join and become involved with this great organization.
The NASMD along with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM—of which the Conn-Selmer Corporation is a member) created the Music Achievement Council. Formed in 1983 for the express purpose of supporting instrumental music programs in our schools, the council produces educational materials for use by band and orchestra directors to help improve the recruiting and retention of instrumental music students. For more information, visit their website at http://www.nammfoundation.org/music-achievement-council.
It’s time for you to starting hanging out and singing your new song, “Friends in High Places.”