Why Join a Music Booster Group? The Surprising Benefits

Congratulations! Your child has decided to continue on as a music student. The program will be taking your child to the next level, and providing incredible opportunities. But with those opportunities come more responsibilities; not just for your child, but for the program as a whole. There’s way too much work for the teacher to handle, so the booster club supplies a stream of volunteers.

That’s nice, you might think. But I’m way too busy for that.

Think again. Your kid’s teacher isn’t the only one who benefits from this arrangement. So why SHOULD you make time to volunteer with the music booster group?

parent boosters
plustwentyseven | DigitalVision | Thinkstock

Do it for (your) children!

Each moment a music educator spends on administrative tasks is a moment that educator could be spending with a student. YOUR student.

Because I value the hard work music educators do each day with hundreds of students and little to no administrative support, I’m happy to pitch in with tasks that I enjoy. Plus I’d bet I could do that task much more quickly and easily than the teacher could; a ten-minute task for me could save her 30 minutes, or an hour. That time goes right back to the students, ensuring that my child gets a better experience.

Part of that experience may include more performance opportunities, which may in turn create more logistical wrangling. I’d much rather the logistics get turned over to parent volunteers, ensuring that the teacher has the time and energy to ensure that students are prepared to make the most of that opportunity.

Plus if you get involved with your kid’s music booster group, you’ll be in a perfect position to spend more time with your teenage child. Sometimes kids this age tend to get a bit prickly, but they still want to know you’re there for them. Being indirectly involved with their music program is the perfect compromise. You’ll be able to see their progress, and who they’re hanging out with. You’ll catch all their performances, and be the first to catch their triumphant smile after a powerful performance. What could be better than that?

Do it for your community

Music is singularly well positioned to build community. Local performance opportunities like concerts, football games, and parades rally a community around the shared experience of the music provided by your kid’s ensemble. So many community events are enhanced by the addition of musical performances. A parade without a marching band? Lame. Adding carolers or small ensembles to holiday community events? Now THERE’S a reason to bundle up.

 Everyone within earshot will be improved by your student’s performance. Research says that “people who engage in the arts or watch others do so are more likely to be civically engaged, socially tolerant, and altruistic.” Source 

While the lion’s share of the benefits go to the performers, even those who attend reap some benefit from the experience.

These community performances, by the way, are wonderful opportunities to engage in some stealth music education advocacy. Each pair of ears is likely attached to a voter. If they see your child’s music program as a positive force in the community, next time a funding referendum happens, they’ll be that much more likely to vote your way. Why should you care? It’ll make your kid’s experience better, it’ll strengthen the school and the district, and will benefit students for years to come. Remember that bit about being civically engaged? That means these music students—for year to come— will leave the program to spend their lives making the world, much less your own community, a better place. And who doesn’t want that?

Do it for yourself

You’ll get something out of volunteering for your child’s music program, too! Research shows that volunteers benefit in so many ways.

Volunteering for a group like a music booster group will strengthen your network personally and professionally. Those connections will come in handy someday, whether it’s in your career or your social life. And though the concept of making friends sounds trite, it’s really not. Many people have trouble making friends after college.

“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.…” Source

Volunteering for a music booster group sure increases the possibility of increasing those interactions. As one veteran music parent in my program puts it each year to freshman band parents, “Look around. Your new best friend may be in this room.” The veteran parents nod—he’s right.

Consider using a music booster group as a laboratory you can use to pick up new hands-on skills. From organizational skills to bookkeeping to logistics to communication to technology, there are so many important tasks to be done, and likely a shortage of people to do them. Due to the nature of the beast, there are almost always outgoing parents who are actively looking to teach someone the skills they’ve learned working for the organization. And it’s a volunteer position, after all. If you mess up, what are they going to do—fire you?

Studies show that volunteers are happier. This article sums it up nicely.

  • Being generous leads us to perceive others more compassionately; we typically find good qualities in people to whom we are kind
  • Being kind promotes a sense of connection and community with others, which is one of the strongest factors in increasing happiness
  • Being generous helps us appreciate and feel grateful for our own good fortune
  • Being generous boosts our self-image; it helps us feel useful and gives us a way to use our strengths and talents in a meaningful way
  • Being kind can start a chain reaction of positivity; being kind to others may lead them to be grateful and generous to others, who in turn are grateful and kind to others

Your commitment as a volunteer also helps protect your health. Research indicates that volunteering can decrease the social isolation that often accompanies depression, as well as improve conditions like heart disease and chronic pain.

And perhaps the number one reason to volunteer is because it’s FUN! Most everyone involved with a music program is in it for the right reasons, and it shows. The students have a blast, and that positive energy radiates through the program. The experiences shared by everyone involved make happy memories for years to come.

Consider giving a hand to your child’s music program. Any way you look at it, your child’s music program is a force for good: for students, the school, the community and beyond.

With a bit of luck, in a few years a healthier, happier yo u (and several new friends!) will wonder why you ever hesitated.

Become a NAfME Associate Member today and stay informed on the latest news, research, and advocacy efforts for music education!

About the Author:

Kathleen HeuerKathleen Heuer is the host of Marketing Music Education, the podcast that encourages music educators & boosters to increase the reach, influence and “relentlessly positive” perception of their programs. By day she is a social media & digital marketing consultant, content strategist, community manager, and graphic designer, working primarily in the field of music education. Married to an engineer she met while she was in college marching band, she’s a proud band and orchestra parent twice over. You can check out her website at KathleenHeuer.com and follow her on Twitter at @KathleenHeuer.

 

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Kristen Rencher, Social Media and Online Community Engagement Coordinator, February 13, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

  • I would like to copy this exactly to send out to my families with our new year materials. Would that be ok?

    • kristenrNAfME

      Hi Ginnie, I believe I tweeted to you earlier, but YES, please feel free to share these materials. We just ask that you please cite Kathleen and any other sources listed in her post. Thank you!

  • Gina

    Best practical thing I’ve read for National Arts in Ed Week. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  • Monika Arora

    Great work👍!!Music is a Tree🌳;Music possess total ‘Positiveness’;from Root (Spritually) to theTop (physically).In all means.

  • Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu

    Such an apt comment from Ginnie Schaap. This an amazing Article & I love how you detail the Why. This is genius writing….”That’s nice, you might think. But I’m way too busy for that.”
    What a powerful way to market the needs of others. Thank you for all that you do Kathleen

    • KathleenHeuer

      Thanks, @enricohalfonzonaidu:disqus! I’m writing from a place of experience there. Even someone like me, who cares this deeply about music education, can’t get involved in every capacity I’m asked to. But if this piece helps even one person reconsider, they will touch so many lives in such a positive way.

  • Sara

    I am volunteering for a high school orchestra. He wants more of a culture. Shouldn’t that come from him? I come up with things and it’s a no. It’s a one way relationship. I’m feeling used.

    • cmackie

      Get some orchestra parents and students together to brainstorm how to create a stronger culture, settle on a few key priorities, and then present it to the director. It takes students, parents and teachers to create a culture. It can’t be one person’s responsibility (but he has to have some skin in the game too!).

  • cmackie

    Just stumbled on this article, and it’s awesome. The only caveat with parents getting involved is that they must do it for the benefit of all children, and not their own. I’ve headed up our booster group for seven years now, and rarely have we had parents who focus only on their own children (and those rare few who did caused riffs with other volunteers and teachers). Parents shouldn’t want or expect their son/daughter to get preferential treatment because of their volunteer involvement (something that causes big problems in youth sports). That being said, when parents are actively involved in the booster group, the kids (and their younger siblings) are more likely to stick with the music program over the long haul.