by Marc C. Whitt

christmas-listHave you prepared your Christmas wish list yet? More specifically, have you prepared your Music Parent Christmas wish list?

If you will forgive me for sounding a bit business-like, your Music Parent Christmas wish list is a wonderful way to give serious consideration to those strategic and tactical needs you as a band, choir or orchestra parent believe could help enhance your school’s music program. You may even see it as a mid-year strategic plan.

Here are a few things you might wish to consider for yours:

1. How well do we tell our organization’s story?

This month’s AMP webinar is on this very topic. Author, columnist, and music education advocate DJ Corchin with The 13th Chair will discuss ways to keep your parents organization, music child, teachers, administrators and even yourself engaged in the life of your school’s music program. Make sure to register for this Dec. 17th webinar. As one who has spent more than 30 years in the public relations and marketing profession, I can say for a fact that many school music programs miss the boat by not taking time to tell their success stories.

Sure, many communicate when and where the upcoming concert will be—and that’s obviously important! But what about the stories that tell how young lives are being changed as a direct result of their participation in the band, choir or orchestra? If you want to become an effective advocate for your school music program, you and your organization need to be singing from the same song book on how lives are being changed because of your school’s music program! So for the Music Parent Christmas wish list, add:

We need to do a better job telling our story.

2. How well do we strategically conduct fundraising?

Fundraising projects are no strangers to music parents. From car washes and fruit sales to bake sales to hosting tournaments, we know much about raising much-needed dollars for our school music programs. Because of the critical need of raising plenty of money, we often times conduct massive numbers of fundraisers each year, some that reap minimal results versus the amount of volunteer time demanded. Take a hard look at what you do and determine those projects that produce the best results for you.

Obviously, you need to maintain, if not elevate, these efforts. However, if you do fundraising projects that are largely out of tradition and produce little return on investment, please consider new options. Your VIPs (Very Important Parents) will burn out quickly if they don’t see and support a meaningful plan.

So for the Music Parent Christmas wish list, add:

We need to prepare an annual fundraising calendar/plan that maximizes our volunteer efforts and realized dollars.

3. How well do we encourage our children?

This may seem like an absolutely ridiculous question to ask since we all love and support our kids. But in the busyness of life, we as parents are hit by so many “life obstacles” and before we know it, our professional responsibilities may chip away at the times we could have spent supporting our children and their music ensemble involvement. No guilt trip here. But we have all been gifted the same amount of hours each day.

Our smiling faces at tournaments, concerts, recitals, and even occasionally rehearsals go a long way with our children—even if they don’t tell us. Time flies so quickly. Enjoy each morsel of your child’s experiences in band, choir or orchestra. So for the Music Parent Christmas wish list, add:

I resolve to be even more engaged and encouraging for my child because I make a difference in their life!

4. Last, but certainly not least, how well do I support my child’s music teacher?

As a child of a retired band director, I can assure you that parental support means the world to music educators. Their job is not an easy one: long hours of planning and rehearsals, occasional teen counseling sessions, maintaining equipment, and scheduling and managing concerts, classes and balance sheets. And to add to those job pressures, some school districts don’t demonstrate the support their music programs most surely deserve. It can, at times, be a lonely world for music educators.

That’s where you as a music parent can be so beneficial. Tell them to their face how much you value what they do and what kind of impact they’ve made on your child’s academic and social successes. Send them a note of appreciation with an enclosed gift card. Be creative on other ways you can simply say:

Thank You.

We all appreciate when others encourage us. Music educators are certainly no exception. So for the Music Parent Christmas wish list, add: I will be a CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) for my child’s band, choir or orchestra director this year!

As we end 2014 and look forward to 2015, all of us at AMP wish you, your family and your school’s music program our very best! To those among you who are current members of AMP, we look forward to continuing our mission of serving you. And to those among you who have not yet joined our growing national ranks, we invite you to contact us at We are ready to assist your music parents organization by making your parent volunteers into VIPs—Very Involved Parents—in 2015!

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This month’s Webinar is FREE and open to members and non AMP members. Why not join us for this event?

Register Now!