Travel policy hurts musical recruiting

Crane High School student Ty Shirley, 18, practices before his scholarship audition. Shirley hopes to major in music.

Jim Quist

Crane High School student Ty Shirley, 18, practices before his scholarship audition. Shirley hopes to major in music.

Alexandra Nicolas

Wednesday’s scholarship auditions put Rusty Raymond, director of bands, in a good mood.

High school students from Seneca, Crane, Carthage, Webb City, Neosho, Labette County, Mount Vernon, Cassville, Joplin and transfer college students all visited Missouri Southern’s campus to play and hope for a performance award to play in the Fall.

Raymond said 100 percent of the Lion Pride Marching Band receives some kind of performing aid award.

With moratoriums on travel still in place, audition days are essential for recruiting future music students.

“I am not able to go around to all the schools as I normally did, our name and face presence within the district has been severely limited,” Raymond said. “It is increasingly frustrating because I have voiced my concern numerous times.”

Southern’s competitors also actively pursue students from the area.

“I think it is a misconception for us to assume that our area schools students will come here anyway,” Raymond said. “The University of Central Missouri hosted one of their scholarships audition days at Webb City High School.

“[the moratorium] has severely hampered our ability to be competitive.”

Raymond hopes to recruit not only new freshman but current students who may have “the wrong idea” about college band.

“We rehearse less than most high school bands do,” he said. “If they played in high school I always encourage them to come and try out, we might just say yes and offer them a substantial reward.”

Band scholarships are offered based on instrument, skill level, commitment to music, needs in the department and attitude.

“I’m always concerned we will lose people, be it because of new administrative policy, or lack of presence in our market area,” Raymond said. “We do as much as we can with as little as we have.”