Monetizing the Band Blog

By John Gardner

Dollar SignMonetize the Band Blog…

  1. by Rewarding, Recognizing or Endorsing Band Friendly Supporters
  2. with Band-Friendly Sponsors, Teen-focused Vendors, and Family Oriented Supporters
  3. with Affiliate Marketing and Advertising
  4. using e-commerce to sell
  5. by accepting donations

As a 30-yr veteran school product fundraiser, I use words like fundraising, money-making, profit, etc. Merging that fundraising mindset with my high school teaching assignment, I look for creative “monetizing” ideas to make the band blog an income stream.

There are HURDLES

  • Sometimes education gets so disconnected from the real world it is difficult for educators and parents to view things through a business lens. I found myself recently defending an idea against a that-won’t-work-in-education objection. Here was part of that discussion:

Something I learned a long time ago in business is that if you see the same thing happening over and over, it must be working. Consider “junk” mail? That costs real-time and money to produce and mail, yet they keep sending it because it works.

Admit it. You smile when, after complaining about highway billboards, you read the one that says, “Caught YOU looking.” They work.

Imagine a NASCAR car or driver NOT covered with ads. Even sports arenas become advertisement. The Hoosier Dome became the RCA Dome and was replaced by Lucas Oil Stadium. The University of Louisville basketball team plays in KFC’s “YUM Center”.

Vendors will pay to get their name in front of potential customers and with a music group in a high school, you  offer some very targeted marketing potential that vendors highly value.

  • If the group, i.e. the Band or Choir Dept., run their funds through a school’s ECA (Extra Curricular Activity) account, can be problematic with trying to satisfy all the State Board of Accounts rules. Use of the school’s tax exempt number typically requires; a) a Purchase Order in advance, b) an invoice from a vendor and c) confirmation that the goods or services were received or completed. Selling advertisements or sponsorships work, but offering products for online sales to individual end customers takes the school treasurer out of his/her comfort zone.
  • Another problem with selling or accepting funds online is that schools need to account for every penny, and with online transactions (PayPal, Credit Card Processor) there is a transaction “fee”. Someone who “Donates” $10 doesn’t actually put $10 in the account; it might be close….$9.75, but that is a problem for school accounting.
  • Accepting donations is typically a School Board responsibility. In the local school corporation, accepting a donation requires alerting the Superintendent’s office, getting on a School Board Agenda and waiting until they have a meeting and grant approval — before depositing the donated amount.
  • There are tons of school-related policies that make a profitable site difficult. Have you ever read YOUR school board’s policies. Here is the local version. Even getting permission for a domain name is difficult. In my last attempt, there were going to be several levels of approval (HS Prin, Tech Dept, School Board) with likely negative response, mainly because of the possibility that an abandoned domain name could be picked up by a porn site.
THE SOLUTION is for the Band or Choir to have a separate, incorporated, tax-exempt status parent group.

For this post, I will assume that the band parent organization has incorporated as a tax exempt entity and has, or could have, a an income-producing site.

Here are 5 ways to monetize your band blog.

  1. Reward, Recognize and Endorse Band-Friendly Supporters. The car dealer who puts an announcement about your fish dinner on his promo-sign out on the street, the water softener business that donates bottled water for the students for after performances and on trips, the coffee shop that sets up at your football games and shares a percentage of the proceeds, the funeral home that loans their limo for use as a fundraising prize, all the vendors and parents who donate items for the silent auction… a simple listing with some recognition and support can go a long way toward encouraging more. Here’s a live web sample.
  2. Allow Band Friendly Supporters to DONATE for adverts. Be sure to think through how to protect yourself from a situation where someone wants to buy ad space that you don’t want to sell them; i.e. a bar-grille, a movie rental place that includes x-rated materials, the local beer distributor, etc. You don’t need a fancy ad management tool, just design, or better, let them send you graphic ads that you can post for an agreed upon price and time. So that you can protect your non-profit status, call them ‘donations’. Get guidance from your administrators, but possibilities could include: a) only those from your band-friendly list may advertise, so only those from whom you accept donations/support.; b) local vendors who advertise in the sports programs, etc; c) band parents who own or work for appropriated businesses.Go after businesses who focus on or profit from the local teens; the movie theatre (link to their site that has the schedules and movies of the week), pizza  or coffee shops, skating rink, etc. Locally owned businesses are easier to deal with than national franchises, but sometimes the local manager has a lot of freedom.
  3. Affiliate Marketing. This is advertising that goes through a third-party who pays you a commission for click-throughs or purchases from people who follow the ad on your site. There are several vendors you can register with, such as clickbank or commission junction. Your booster group will need to have an account into which the vendor can electronically transfer earnings. Set up an account with the affiliate program, select the businesses you want to promote, get the codes (they provide) to insert into the site. Some FREE web/blog sites may not allow you to insert advertisements. Most hosted sites, including will. also has an attractive affiliate program. One blogger who administers a School of Performing Arts has set up an Amazon Affiliate account to earn commissions for the school to purchase music. Because he writes reviews to sell their books, he gets discounts on the books he reviews. Do you have a parent (or are you) willing to read/review books about things pertaining to your music program?
  4. Sell online.What do you have to sell?
    – the fundraising merchandise you are currently selling, including things like decals , scrip cards, discount cards or other items easy to mail if a customer can’t come pick up.
    – videos or recordings of your groups’ performances (make sure you don’t violate any copyrights to do that)
    – old instruments or uniforms
    – LP records, VHS tapes, etc that you haven’t touched in several years
    – items donated by vendors who want to be on your Band-Friendly list If you don’t want to add a full-blown shopping cart program to your site, you can list individual items on sales sites like eBay or Amazon and then promote and link to them from your site
  5. Accept DONATIONS online. Add a DONATE button (set up through PayPal, for example) for different specific purposes, or even for general donations to the program. Here’s one example of a page using a DONATE button to help students get private lessons.One local patron ask if it were possible to have automatic withholding from his paycheck that would be electronically transferred directly to the band’s bank account.

Need help setting up your site?

VMO Business Card


Posted in Business strategies, High Schools, Income Opportunity, Internet web design and ecommerce, Monetizing, Repost, Sales and Marketing, Small Business, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Common Core Standards for Sports

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.02.53 PM

By John Gardner

Sports in public schools cannot continue to assign and support labels like “winners” and “losers”. We don’t tolerate that in our classrooms, so why should it be acceptable in sports? Athletics should follow the academic practice – mainstreaming players into average teams, thereby reducing the emphasis and focus on special or gifted athletes. Stop emphasizing the win. Cheerleaders and crowds should cheer improvement, not the final score. Instead of waiting for a government mandate, all public school athletic programs should implement no-athlete-left-behind common core standards. 

To meet the core competency, EVERY player will play every game, like they did in t-ball where the emphasis was on learning rather than winning. The first year, there will be no scoring expectations, but all will develop a particular skill, like run down the field, run up and down the court, run the bases… Each year they will add a skill – all players will complete a pass, hit a free throw or make contact with the ball 5 times out of 10. If they can’t, the coach will write a plan for each player not meeting the standard and then work each individual plan. No one can move on until they ALL do.

Eventually, every player will score every game. Once scoring, a player will rotate out and replaced to help meet this core competency. Failure to rotate could result in some players scoring a lot and others not at all – not the goal.

Similarly to the way academics is removing labels like “special” and “gifted”, athletics will stop assigning titles like, starter, pitcher, forward, or quarterback, as those imply higher rank. To meet the common core, every player will play every position in every game.

Size and weight classifications are mainstreamed together. Wrestlers, who should weigh 100 pounds, will compete in the common class. There will be a pre-weight test to provide starting data. The coach will divide players into under, target and over weight groups and write goals for each member of each group, using the format – “___% of the under and ___% of the over weight groups will meet the standard weight by the end of the season.” Athletic teams from all schools will compete in a classless, even (?) playing field. 

Averages and percentages become standards. In baseball, all attention will focus on raising the lower averages to the standard. It is okay to exceed the standard, but those players will be left to work at their own pace, or assigned to tutor below standard players. Baseball strikeouts, walks, home runs, basketball field goals, 2 and 3 point shots, football passes thrown, completed, intercepted, along with field goal attempts and completions, will all be standardized to make sure teams are learning the games well enough to play in the real world. Track and Cross Country will adopt standard times and coaches will focus on meeting those minimums core competencies.

Referees will consider school and team core competency levels as part of their call-making during games or events. Referees will evaluate data before the game and review the progress at halftime for the second half.

Assessing core competencies. Instead of using win/loss records or scores at events to determine success, the government will provide a 4-6 page form that principals will use to evaluate the school, and another form for the athletic director to assess each coach. Coaches must take part in professional development training to learn the forms and formulas. 

Coaches will design a pre-season test to determine what athletes know, but must get both the pre-test and the final exam pre-approved. The approval process can involve multiple adjustments as determined by the professional athletic development person within the building. Note: that person doesn’t yet exist but implementation of core standards will make it necessary to hire more non-teachers to train, administer and monitor the process.

Using a complex formula requiring training to understand, test data will classify (label) as “highly effective”, “effective”, “needs improvement” or “not effective”. The amount of improvement, provided by the test results data, are one of the factors in the coach effectiveness determination. Referees will be focusing on the overall team averages. 

The good news is that with enough enthusiastic coach and administrator commitment to spending major parts of practice times evaluating data and devising, discussing and implementing  individual athletic plans (IAP’s), there is reason for optimism that the end result will be average.



Posted in Classroom Teacher, Communication, Consulting, High Schools, How May I Serve YOU?, Social Media, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , ,

What I Learned From A Korean Exchange Clarinet Student

By John Gardner

The news headlines were about the College Entrance Exam in South Korea. The Economist’s article about “The One Shot Society” and the CBS Report provide some scary examples, which help me better understand understand some of the personality traits of a clarinet exchange student I taught. Read more ›

Posted in College Prep, High Schools, Repost, Teaching, Teaching Music, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Public Service Announcement Recruiting Teachers

By John Gardner

Below is one from a series of public service announcements playing in hundreds of theaters across the country encouraging viewers (largely high schoolers) to consider teaching as a career — in an attempt to address some of the teacher shortage nationally.

Here is the current listing of openings from the official job search site for the State of Indiana.


Posted in Teaching Music

10 Reasons To Hire Band Students

Hire MeBy John Gardner

Band  students make better employees and employers find the payback for working around rehearsal and performance schedules is a win-win for the business too.

By the time they are old enough to get a job, band students have learned the value of hard work. They have spent hours in the heat learning new skills under the watchful eyes of seniors, section leaders, staff and directors. They have been corrected, challenged — and have learned to pay the price. They have seen the benefits of dedication and are willing to commit to a job. Band students won’t quit the job because the manager gives them criticism because they understand that is what makes them better. And they learn that striving for excellence is a worthy goal.

Band students understand dedication, commitment
and that striving for excellence is a worthy goal.

At the age they are joining marching band, teens are battling with balancing the reality that they are not quite adults with the increasing desire for freedom, responsibility and individuality. Some rebel against parents, push back against teachers and are super-sensitive to peer-criticism. And yet, marching band requires they give up individual freedoms for the good of the cause, makes them earn responsibility and tells them they have to look, act and behave like everybody else – uniformity.

The first time they are thrust into a fast-paced, pressurized workplace environment, teens from the general school population will be more likely to throw a tantrum, quit — or get fired. Not band students.

Band students understand the value of,
and respect for chain of command

Students are together in lots of different classroom mixes, but only for fifty minutes on school days for a semester or two. Band students can be together for 10-15 hours Monday through Thursday, plus 3 hours for a Friday night football game and 14 hours for a Saturday rehearsal/competition. Couples break up, personalities don’t mesh, they come from different parts of town and with different family and economic situations — but they learn to work together, a skill many non-band teens and a lot of adults never develop.

As I talk to teens (and even many of their parents), one of the most common reasons to quit a job is because of relationships with co-workers. Band students will be even more frustrated with the mediocrity and lack of cooperation and weak work ethic they will find in the workplace, but they will commit to making it work.

Band students know how to cooperate
and collaborate with those from
different backgrounds and capabilities.

In a part-time work environment there will be competition for hours, raises, promotions and responsibilities. The tendency is to look out for self and to heck with the other guy. Students compete within a band but they want everyone to do well. They compete with other bands but will wish them good luck as they pass on the way to the competition field. They will applaud for other bands – even those that beat them. Band students are team players and they understand sportsmanship.

Band students learn good sportsmanship.

By the time they’re ready for that first job (students usually turn 16 during sophomore or junior year), band students have already learned patience as marching band staff is teaching or fixing drill; perseverance and endurance through extreme temperatures, long rehearsals and so much more we teacher types throw at them.

They understand, through the system of seniority in most bands, that they will need to prove themselves and demonstrate strong work ethic to earn leadership positions or, when they get a job,  a raise.

Band students learn patience,
perseverance and endurance.

There is often a penalty for arriving late to a band rehearsal. When I was in a marching band, it was a lap around the field per minute late. Some bands use push-ups — or job assignments. Arrive late today and you get to take the water to the field tomorrow. And because there are always new things happening in a rehearsal, missing is never an option. Some bands will make you an alternate for an unexcused absence. So when band students get a job with a schedule, they are there — and on time.

Band students learn the value
of attendance and punctuality.

Bands rehearse scores of hours per minute of marching band show. Stretches, running and endurance exercises, fundamentals (yes, they already know how to march, right?) and then sets of drill over, and over. Do they get tired? Absolutely, but they understand the price of success and that there are no shortcuts to achieving it.

Band students learn that there are
no shortcuts to success

Most years, prior to the final competition of the season, we allow seniors to talk to the band. They say a variety of things, but there are two predominant themes: 1) Band is family, and 2) band taught them responsibility with accountability.

Band students learn
responsibility and accountability

Where, outside of public education, is the focus on making the student (or employee) feel good about themselves at the expense of excellence? We read about schools eliminating valedictorians and class rank or even grades, so lower achievers don’t get a negative vibe.

When my child was in first grade, the education fad of the day was a program called “writing to read”, where the emphasis was on the child being able to read whatever they wrote. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc…. were not corrected. Teachers emphasized that a child reader would have a higher self-esteem.

Students who have gone through a feel-good system can hit a brick wall when they get to college or into the workforce. Good band directors instill in their students that a healthy self-esteem comes through achieving excellence. In that pursuit, however, the student learns to accept criticism from directors, staff, seniors and section leaders – and they are willing to pay the price to get the prize. Here is a post I wrote about Excellence and Self Esteem.

Band students learn that self-esteem
is raised by achieving excellence

Because of their extreme rehearsal schedules on top of homework and, especially with the responsibilities of a job, band students develop good time management skills.

Band students develop time management skills

You might also enjoy: Earning and Receiving Great References

Person Holding Hire Me Sign in Crowd



Posted in Income Opportunity, Marching Band Tagged with: , ,

This article to NAfME online newsletter

By John Gardner

American Independence DayOne of my articles posted by NAfME (National Association for Music Education) in their national online newsletter. Thanks for that. I’d appreciate any clicks on the link back to my site to help my stats.


10 Reasons To Hire Band Students (we think this applies to ALL music students!) via @VirtualMusicOfc#musiced

— NAfME (@NAfME) July 28, 2014


Posted in Teaching Music

Long Range, Laser Beam Guided Goal Achievement

In May 2013, David received a PhD at Ivy League Penn (University of Pennsylvania). His goal was to get his doctorate before he turned 30. TODAY IS HIS 32nd BIRTHDAY! 

David birthday

During the course of his high school, undergraduate and graduate school experiences, David shared some specific long-range goals and then focused on them like a laser.

High School Graduation goal set freshman year

At the end of the his first high school semester, the school published a preliminary “Top 25″ list of students in each class. Of course, I was proud and offering praise. With over 500 in his class, he surprised me and I (probably) brushed aside a comment he shared as we discussed that list:

I will graduate #1 in this class. 

The result: At graduation, over three years later, David was ranked #1 as one of three with a perfect pre-weighted grade point. His valedictory address had the audience laughing and the podium officials squirming when he continued past his approved remarks to share his “Top 10 Things I Learned in High School”.

Goal pursuit:

  • Always did the extra credit anyway.
  • Considered his academic efforts and time applying for scholarships his “part-time job” that would pay off when time to go to college.

Top-tier college goal set early

David only applied to one college – Duke University. I had never paid attention to terms like “top-tier” related to college until I started asking about his choice and reasons for it. Duke claims to admit students from the top 1% nationally. All I knew about Duke was how much I hated that school for their last second NCAA semi-final defeat of the University of Kentucky (my school) in 1991. I had no idea how expensive it was or how hard it was to get into. When I asked, “Why Duke?”, his answer was:

I’m tired of being the geek. I’m tired of ruining the curve. I’m tired of everybody being angry at me for doing all the extra credit anyway. I want to go where it is okay to be an achiever.

At least part of his reasoning was that his extremely high SAT score was just slightly above “average” there. Duke asked him to sign a binding “Early Decision” contract in September of his high school senior year. When I balked at the price, they said, “If we decide we want him, we will get him here.” They didn’t make it easy, but they made it possible.

Our 4-yr expense was about what it would have cost to send him to an in-state state school.

College career goal set freshman year

In the introductory meeting for the parents of the 1500 freshmen, 500 of whom were high school valedictorians, the official warned,

Most of you have students who were at the top of their classes in high school. We want to prepare you for the fact that half of them will be average here.

The confident response when we shared that with David was,

I will not be average. 

The result: David graduated in the top 1% ( one A- in 4yrs) of his class and gave one of two commencement addresses at the English Department’s ceremony.

Goal pursuit:

  • When possible, re-did any work that wasn’t an “A” until it was.
  • Expected and asked for feedback on anything graded less than perfect.
  • Always signed up for and visited more classes than he could end up taking and then picked the best classes with the best professors.

PhD goal set at undergraduate graduation

After introducing me to one of his English professors at the reception following his departmental graduation ceremony, commenting on the distinguished cap that the professor wore, David pronounced his next goal:

I will have my doctorate before I’m 30. 

Goal pursuit:

  • Scheduled times for reading/writing dissertation – treated it like a job
  • Persevered when requested support and feedback was lacking

The result: got his PhD in May and turns 30 TODAY!

Happy Birthday David!


The beginning of formal education, kindergarten 1988-89

The beginning of formal education, kindergarten 1988-89

Valedictorian Speech, Huntington North High School, 2001

Valedictorian Speech, Huntington North High School, 2001

Duke commencement address, "Finding our Porpoise:. 2005

Duke commencement address, “Finding our Porpoise”:. 2005

Duke English Dept Newsletter with Gardner Commencement Address

Click the pic to see the entire letter with the commencent address.

Click the pic to see the entire letter with the commencent address.

The end of formal education. Doctoral Graduation, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

The end of formal education. Doctoral Graduation, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

PhD Diploma, (in Latin), University of Pennsylvania, 2013

PhD Diploma, (in Latin), University of Pennsylvania, 2013

After teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Rosemont College and City College of Philadelphia, David is set to begin his third year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, one of the nation’s top boarding schools.  Started during the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere designed the school’s seal, John Hancock signed the Articles of Incorporation and George Washington gave a speech on campus. Both presidents Bush went to school there.

He will begin his third year promoted to “Cluster Dean”, which puts him as an overseer to five dorm houses, about 100 students and those responsible for the individual dorms.

Dr. David, your story should be an encouragement to all students from families of modest means as you have demonstrated that “Good Grades Do Pay” and that, even though families of privilege have an unfair advantage, determination and perseverance can break through a lot of barriers.

We love you, we’re proud of you, we find you inspiring as you live your dream and your goal.

Mom and Dad.



Posted in College Prep, High Schools, Parenting Tagged with: , , , , ,

Will you build YOUR dream, or someone else’s?

Quote If you don't build your dream

By John Gardner

I have worked for school corporations (small and larger), a business manufacturing corporation and for my own corporation. I have helped dreamers and hired dream helpers. I prefer being the dreamer and more in charge of my own destiny.  Read more ›

Posted in Income Opportunity, Internet web design and ecommerce, Job Search, Managed hosting, Personal experience, Sales and Marketing, Virtual Assistant Tagged with: , , , , ,

4 VoIP systems I use: Net 10, Google Voice, Nextiva and Skype

By John Gardner

Increasingly, individuals are dumping their home land-line phones and going to all cell phone use. Makes sense, especially for those who already have multiple cell phones in the family and are looking to cut cost.


Years ago, my small business required that I and my employees report to a physical office daily. I installed a 5-line phone system that included separate lines for two different businesses and a dedicated fax line plugged into a physical machine with paper. Due to our rural service, we had periodic phone troubles, particularly after significant storm activity. The response from the phone company was always that,

“if the problem is on the inside,
we will bill you for the call and the repair”.

We still use a radio internet connection, beaming to a receiver atop a grain elevator a mile away. Yes, rural Indiana.

Over the past decade, wife Joan and I have been fortunate (sons through college debt free) to be able to return part time to education; not because we had to, but because we could. When we did that, some of our bi-vocational staff transitioned to telecommuting and, eventually, to other employment. And that’s okay. But now, in addition to those two business names, I answer my cell on behalf of a high school, university and another business (this Virtual Music Office) — and one cell with one number and one greeting wasn’t working for me. And, because we can get faster Internet from our home in town, working from home has several advantages — except that I couldn’t remotely answer the business lines or send/receive a fax….until now.

I now use four cellular and VoIP (Voice over Internet) systems for my personal and small businesses; Net 10,Google Voice,Nextiva Voice & vFax, and Skype.

Read more ›

Posted in Business strategies, Communication, Internet web design and ecommerce, Small Business, Social Media, Virtual/Local Services Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marching Band Freshmen and Newbie Survival Guide

By John Gardner

The following comes from a band handbook I wrote.

All first year participants in Marching Band are Newbies. Consider the terms rookie, freshman and newbie to be interchangeable.

We love our newbies and couldn’t have a band without them.

Band is FamilyThe biggest challenge is for newbies to grasp the concept. Some come to us after being big, bossy 8th graders in the Middle School…and now they are….rookies. Our eighth graders get to spend time in both worlds.

We do not emphasize “chair” placement in Marching Band. In some cases, there may be a freshman who is musically superior to an upperclassman, but the one thing freshmen and newbies don’t have is experience. You need to listen and learn and experience Marching Band.

Some advice for newbies to enhance their rookie year experience:

  1. Be quiet and learn. Do not talk in rehearsals. Other than asking a question or asking for help, speaking should come from directors, staff, drum majors, seniors or section leaders. The upperclassmen with experience know what we expect and know what it takes. Newbies do not…yet. You will become experienced, but you are not there yet.
  2. Respect your elders, including your upperclassmen. Marching Band does have a chain of command type of hierarchy and newbies are not at the top – yet.
  3. Come to a drum major or director if you ever think someone is harassing or mistreating you, because that is absolutely forbidden. It just doesn’t happen here….and it won’t.
  4. Never, EVER confront or challenge a director in anger during rehearsal. We will make mistakes and perhaps even falsely accuse you of an error in rehearsal. The best thing you can do is cooperate at the moment and come talk to us during a break – or privately. If we are wrong, we will admit it and apologize to you publicly, if appropriate. Remember, though, that in a rehearsal, a director cannot lose an authority-questioning or disrespecting battle.
  5. Don’t take it personally. We do a pretty good job, I think, of showing all band members that they are important to us and that we care about them individually.

We want to hear about what is happening in their lives, including outside of band. It is okay to come talk to us about boy/girlfriend issues, job situations and even something where you want a sounding board in addition to or outside of home.

BUT WHEN WE ARE IN REHEARSAL, think of yourself more like an important part of a big machine. The machine only functions properly if each and every part is working. If you are out of line, out of step, out of interval, out of horn position, are playing something incorrectly or not playing…..we WILL point that out to you because you affect the machine.

A judge’s eye is always looking for something different, so the best thing is NOT to draw attention to yourself. If you ever think that we are ‘picking’ on you, please come say something. That is never the intent.

And remember…. you are only a rookie / newbie one year. Then YOU will be one of those upperclass people. Hang in there. Survive well. Let us help you help us.

Your Director

Posted in High Schools, Marching Band, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , ,


LinkedIn Profile