The intent of this investigation was to determine the methods of recruitment and retention for low brass in a beginning to middle-level band program. Four areas of influence were examined: (1) intrinsic motivators that cause students to choose certain band instruments; (2) extrinsic motivators that cause students to choose certain instruments; (3) recruitment methods band directors use to assist students in the decision-making process when choosing a low brass instrument; (4) methods band directors use to retain low brass students and; (5) retention methods band students respond to most favorably.
This was a descriptive study using quantitative data that were collected through a directly administered, forced-response Likert-type survey to students, and a mailed, forced-response Likert-type survey to teachers. Student subjects were members of a fifth grade band and two sixth grade bands in District 112. Teacher subjects were teachers from the Twin Cities Metro Area. The surveys elicited responses related to how students choose their instruments and the reasons for remaining in band. Questions were formed in each survey instrument to inform the researcher about students' and teachers' perspectives regarding recruitment and retention.
Results of the survey indicated that students are heavily influenced during the recruitment process by the timbre of the instrument. Student participants agreed to a higher level of influence from parents than siblings or peers, and teacher participants agreed with a high level of parent input. Though student survey participants largely agreed that the size of the instrument and the role of the instrument did not affect them when choosing an instrument, the teachers surveyed indicated that they see many students gravitating to the smaller, melody instruments. Students indicated that the gender-stereotyping of instrument sis not an issue, as it had been in past research. However, the students' perceptions influence instrument choice: many students agreed that they chose the instrument they play because they think it is "cool." The number of teachers who indicated they have trouble enrolling enough low brass students on a yearly basis was over fifty percent. A large percentage of teachers also responded that during recruitment, they encourage students to play the instruments that are needed to balance their bands.