We all have ways we want to expand our program. As music teachers, we’re always looking for funding for new instruments, sheet music, programs, and teaching materials. Most of us are doing this on a shoestring budget.
I’ve been dreaming up ways to expand my program too, with things like adding more Orff instruments, tubanos, and quality literature for my choirs. When I added the numbers up I was reminded of the scene in White Christmas:
So I sat down and thought of 7 ways to fundraise for your music room. They don’t involve grants, selling candles, or going door-to-door.
These ideas are based on the practice of creating funding through creating engagement in your program. Quite literally, creating buy-in. Not all of these need to be implemented, and they certainly don’t need to be implemented in the way I’ve listed them here. You can take the basic concept and tweak it for your specific program.
Here are 7 fundraising ideas for your general music room:
1. After - School Ensembles
What instruments do you have already that you could use for an ensemble? If you don’t have enough instruments for an ensemble, start a choir. Charging students around $10 per class will seem like a bargain to the families, while supporting your program financially. Consider structuring it for about 6 to 8 weeks each trimester, or 12 weeks each semester. Have this ensemble perform at your regular concerts.
Pros: Even with students only paying $10 per class, you can get some good funding out of ensembles when large numbers of students join. It adds publicity to your program when these groups perform at regular concerts.
Implementation: Have notes sent out several weeks in advance, and then talk about your ensembles constantly in class to get students excited!
2. After - School Private Lessons
Similar to the idea above, consider giving private lessons to students after school. What is your primary instrument? Chances are, there are students who want to learn that instrument too!
Pros: You can charge a bit more for these lessons because they are one-on-one.
Implementation: If you go this route, check around for the average price of private lessons around you. Your goal is to cut their prices while still looking reputable, and still raising funds for your music program.
Do your students improvise and make song arrangements in your classroom? Most of the time parents never hear the “small wins” in music class. We normally save presentation for performances. Putting together a CD of 2nd Grade’s Greatest Hits is a great way to keep parents involved.
Pros: You’re likely already rehearsing and creating original ideas with your students. Just press “record” on the device of your choice.
Implementation: This idea would work best with a small explanation of each track that gives parents insight into the musical process.
4. Notes for Notes
Have you ever been to a marching band competition where parents give “shout outs” to their musicians on the field? Why not take that idea and apply it to general music? Parents could pay $5 - $10 to have a personal note attached to classroom instruments. Once parents submit their message, type them up in school colors and attach them to instruments. This can be done in a way that is safe for the instrument, doesn’t change the sound quality, and still looks attractive. If you’re concerned about the look, consider just creating a border instead of covering the whole thing, or putting the notes on the performer’s side only.
Pros: Increases parent buy-in for your program; adds a personal touch to your performances
Implementation: Give parents a character limit before you start. This could be even more effective if you can tie the notes into a school theme.
5. Adopt a Note
Trying to raise funding for an entire set of Orff instruments can be tough. But broken down, the cost of a single Orff bar is around $40 - $80. Instead of asking for huge donations, consider asking families or organizations to adopt a single note. The Jones family might adopt a soprano xylophone F. Maybe a local business adopts an alto xylophone A. Pretty soon you’ve built an instrumentarium one bar at a time. Then, each time you perform, give a thank-you to the donors who “adopted the notes” to allow each song on the program.
Pros: People feel that they’ve made a difference through a manageably sized donation.
Implementation: Since people are only adopting one bar at a time, have clear communication about what bars still need to be adopted. This idea also works best when many people take part, so build excitement around it!
6. Concert Purchases:
I saw this basic idea on Facebook once and I can’t track down the original post. Partnering with a music vendor, your “wish list” instruments could be set out on display at the back of the performance area. After seeing students perform on the instruments you currently have, parents can walk back and contribute funding to building the program.
Pros: The performances gives parents a small picture of where your program is going. They’re probably excited about the direction the program is moving because they’ve just enjoyed a performance of their child.
Implementation: This could be especially effective if class reactions to the new additions were filmed and then sent out as a “thank you” to donors.
7. Front Row Tickets
At our school, the front two rows of music performances fill up quickly. It’s the best spot for parents to ensure they can see their child. It’s easily accessible by grandparents. It has a clear line of vision for filming. Since these seats go so quickly, why not charge a small amount for a front row ticket?
Pros: Though it’s a small amount of funding, over the course of the year you could make enough to replace old choir folders, purchase replacement recorders, buy yarn to repair mallets. . . .
Implementation: Have ticket sales ahead of time as part of the promotion for your event. It sends the message that your program is going to be highly attended, and people are excited about it.
What I love the most about these fundraising ideas is that each of them builds the program through partnerships with families or local businesses.
It’s not an isolated pathway to funding like writing a grant. Building your program while building your community is a great way to ensure that your vision continues year after year.
What other ways do you like to raise funding for your program?