Let me start by saying band boosters are the “salt of the earth
”, most dedicated, caring, volunteers who would give you the shirt off of their back if they thought it would help your band program! Participation varies from band to band but needless to say it is vital for every band director to stay involved, maintain good communication and a positive working relationship with your booster’s because they can either help your program thrive or break and undermine your program!
The primary function and reason for any booster group’s existence should be to work hand in hand with the Band Director to help organize and implement programs that will supplement and enhance the band program and experience beyond what the school district provides. Unfortunately over time in some programs these groups become more independent and isolated from the director and far too powerful. It may be from neglect or apathy overtime by the director or most often by poor leadership within the booster group itself. Instead of working in consort with the director for the good of the program they in turn try to control the program and director even dictating what they should do.
Whose job is it anyway? It is not their place to tell you the style of show and music to play, who should be on your staff, how to discipline, when to rehearse, where and when to travel, or what event, festival or number of competitions to attend each year. They try to tell you how to do your job! It’s unfortunate and truly amazing when this happens and how powerless and helpless a director can feel when dealing with a situation like this.
While parents are always entitled to their opinion remember you were hired as the Band Director and are responsible for the implementation of your band program. It can happen when an established band program loses a veteran director and they are replaced by a new one fresh out of college. The boosters feel it’s their responsibility to maintain the status quo and in many cases will overstep their bounds and pressure the new director to do things they are uncomfortable with and don’t agree with. This can also happen when your booster group has the wrong person in the leadership position and they push their own agenda instead of yours. Their ego, attitude and zeal for power can splinter the group and alienate the parents who want to help your program.
As a director I maintained control of my booster group by working to ensure we always selected people in leadership positions who I knew would work hand in hand with me to create the best outcome for our students. I not only scheduled and attended each meeting but I formulated the meeting agenda with the booster leadership. Our bylaws were very clear and defined their role as the officers and support group for the band. I made it clear from day one that I was in charge of all decisions regarding the educational and instructional aspects of the program. I would always share my thoughts with them on what I planned each year for the show, music, travel, extra performances, staffing etc. for informational purposes. My experience and relationship over the years with my band boosters was respectful and positive and I could not have done half the things we accomplished without them. My boosters would do anything I asked and they always went above and beyond what I could have ever expected of them.
I would encourage every young band director to work hand in hand with your booster officers to create a positive relationship and define appropriate boundaries from day one. It is paramount to encourage the right people to seek leadership positions from year to year. Stay involved with your boosters, share your appreciation for their efforts but maintain control of your program. As I stated in the beginning band boosters are the “salt of the earth”, most dedicated, caring, volunteers who would give you the shirt off of their back if they thought it would help your band program! I hope you can experience the same wonderful blessings of a great booster group like I was so fortunate to have during my career.
Check out my book Travel 101 A Band Director’s Guide for Planning Student Travel and blog on my website. www.bandtravel101.com/