Directors’ Decision-Making Process Regarding Recruitment of Oboe Players for Beginning Band

November 3, 2011 / By: Dagan O. Hanson

The intent of this thesis was to identify the factors band directors consider when deciding whether to recruit oboe players for their beginning band programs and the degree to which the following factors were considered by directors before deciding whether to recruit oboes for beginning band:  (1) Instrument recruitment and placement; (2) Recruitment concerns throughout the student selection process; (3) Director’s musical and personal qualities; (4) Musical factors; And, (5) program structure within the school system.

One hundred sixty eight members of the Minnesota Band Directors’ Association were invited to complete an online survey; 49 surveys were fully completed.  Each survey was self-administered, and subjects anonymously submitted it online.  Survey sections contained 4 – 12 questions, and assessed the degree to which directors considered factors in each of the five above-mentioned sub-problems.  Survey results are displayed through a series of bar graphs in chapter four; each bar graph represents the response to an individual survey question or statement. 

Survey results indicate that student selection issues such as student motivation to play the oboe, musical intelligence, and musical aptitude, are the most influential factors considered by directors regarding the recruitment of oboe players, but that respondents take into account all five above-mentioned sub-problems when deciding whether to recruit oboe players into their beginning band programs.  Research suggests and directors agree that student motivation to play the oboe quickly wanes if not maintained by way of healthy parental support.  Survey data show a majority of directors believe musical issues including balance, blend, tone, and sound exposure are important motivators for the inclusion of oboes in beginning band.  A strong contingent of directors disagree, however, that, for oboe technique development, it is more important to recruit oboe players in beginning band than middle or high school band.  According to survey data, some directors like to determine the commitment of a student before switching them to the oboe, while other directors believe that a basic foundation on another band instrument is needed and gives the student good basic reading skills that can help the student when they transfer to the oboe.  Still, other respondents said that student success on the oboe totally depends on the skill level of the director. 

As to the impact of instrument specific issues such as cost, care, availability, and access, data shows that these challenges do not deter most directors from the recruitment of oboes for beginning band.  Additionally, sound quality issues—including tone color, volume, and pitch—do not appear to be deterring factors for oboe player recruitment.  On the topic of gender bias toward instruments, approximately half of the survey sample respondents agree that the sex stereotyping of instruments exists among students, yet most disagree that peer pressure surrounding the sex stereotyping of musical instruments is problematic during the instrument selection process and do not consider it as an important issue. 

Data in this studysuggest directors agree there are many advantages to starting oboe students in beginning band, particularly in relation to success in upper level bands in middle school and beyond, and yet, based on this research, when considering all of the factors, directors’ share a split point of view leading to mixed support for the inclusion/exclusion of oboe players in beginning band programs across the state of Minnesota.