Choral elitists beware: we’re calling out the Emperor for having no clothes. Indiana choir director Samantha Patterson finds value in incorporating pop music, sporting events, and yes…even the dab…in her program, which has reaped the benefits of her innovative recruiting strategies. Want to know how to recruit boys, or anyone, into your program? This episode is the how-to guide you’ve been waiting for.


Highlight to Tweet: “No wonder no one wants to be in your class; you pick the worst music.” – Samantha Patterson

Show Notes:

  • Pop music is the lure, and it drives the interest in Samantha’s program. As the year progresses, she introduces more standard repertoire.
  • Starting with something easy and familiar…from the radio…sets them up for early success, and a great first concert experience.
  • After the early success, students are more willing to buy into more esoteric music selections.
  • Samantha takes her male students to a baseball game every fall. Everyone gets to go on a special outing, but baseball is just for the boys.
  • Another key recruiting factor is a special presentation for rising 5th graders. That concert is also high energy, with familiar pop songs.
  • Selling concessions at sporting events helps in 2 ways: it raises money for her program, and it gives her the opportunity to meet her students’ friends and ask, “Why aren’t you in choir?”
  • Social media can build stronger relationships between you and your students, and also with their parents.
  • Including younger children with the high school musical also has multiple benefits: it builds interest in your program in upcoming students, and it increases ticket sales overall.
  • Work with your sporting program. Be flexible. Allowing students to participate in other activities creates opportunities for everyone to win.


Samantha Patterson is the choir teacher at North Clay Middle School in Brazil, Indiana. She is currently in her 7th year of teaching and has taught all grade levels. Her program consists of close to 350 students, with close to 150 being male. Her choirs have sung for events with the NBA, WMBA, Indianapolis Indians, and the State Superintendent.

Resources/links Mentioned:

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