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consideration: do you want all of your students’ parents to be members of this group, a membership based on application and fee, or a formal board and committee with informal involvement from parents at large?

Developing Mission and Structure A mission statement giving your music par- ents’ group direction and purpose should be another initial task. That focus will dictate the roles of parent group members. Usually a board is established with roles including president, vice-president, secre- tary and treasurer. In addition, committees can be established to support various tasks including communications, fundraising, travel and advocacy. Once those decisions are finalized, it is time to create bylaws to govern your organization’s activities and provide clear rules. Examples can be found online or by asking colleagues in schools with established parent groups to provide you with samples. A further consideration when defining the role of president is establishing a term limitation of one year. Frequently, parents who are elected to a position of authority and can remain there indefinitely, develop a sense of decision-making authority, which can lead to the “tail wagging the dog.” Music teachers need support, not a parent who feels entitled to run the program by dictat- ing instrument purchases, competitions to attend or travel destinations.

Attracting and Retaining Members Once the formal outline of your group has been established, it is time to consider how to attract and retain effective parent membership. At West Bend High School, a nomination committee is established each year by January and recommenda- tions are taken by current board members and band directors. Those are based on observations of parental involvement dur- ing the first semester. Discussions center on how many times parents volunteered for chaperoning or other tasks, levels of enthusiasm and most importantly, how well they relate to the students. Other de- sirable traits include previous leadership

Wisconsin School Musician 19

experience, the ability to work well with others and the willingness to commit time and effort to your organization. Special at- tention is paid to freshman parents as they will be available to serve for the longest time and are often eager to get involved. Securing a good slate of prospective board candidates includes contacting those be- ing considered and having a conversation about their desire and ability to serve.

Establishing Meetings

Another important task is to establish a slate of meetings. A combination of monthly board meetings and annual or semi-annual general parent meetings is a good compromise for effectiveness while still respecting the limited com- mitment of time most parents can make.

Continued on page 20 The Viterbo University Music Department…

features a dedicated faculty of artist-teachers, outstanding programs in piano, voice, and music education (choral/general), numerous choral ensembles and productions, first-rate facilities, recently restored Steinway grand pianos, and NASM accreditation since 1942.

Music Faculty Nancy Allen Diane Foust

Mary Ellen Haupert

Dan Johnson-Wilmot Jean Saladino

Ann Schoenecker

Degrees • B.M. in Music Performance • B.M. in Music Education (choral/general) • B.A. in Music

To learn more about Viterbo University’s music program, visit

900 Viterbo Drive, La Crosse, WI 54601 1-800-VITERBO •

Timothy Schorr Judy Stafslien

David Richardson

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