School of Music


Doctor of Music Education (DME)


Brian Stiffler


Recruiting, retention, music education, rural


Education | Music


This project explored the many challenges band directors face while teaching in the rural United States. Despite the abundance of articles about recruiting for high school band programs, few have addressed high schools in the rural United States. The untold perspectives of novice and experienced band directors matter because it is a topic not addressed in undergraduate studies. This study highlights the perspectives of band directors and scholars who have firsthand experience building band programs in rural counties. Guided by scholarly journal articles, personal interviews, and other research, this qualitative research study identified perspectives that have not yet been explored and documented concerning the lives of rural teaching high school band directors who know firsthand the struggles with recruiting. Perspectives on competing with sports, low-income demographics, and class scheduling conflicts emerged as themes by exploring a small body of existing literature and personal interviews. Much of the United States is considered rural, and this study could benefit many high school band directors, seasoned and new alike. This project serves as an example of improving recruiting and hopefully encouraging band directors who know the challenges found therein all too well. Band directors, administrators, stakeholders, and researchers will hopefully apply this research method to build their programs, relieve their stress, and better serve their community through the potential growth of their programs.