The lights go down, the audience is quiet. Meanwhile you are backstage are trying to keep control of hundreds of children! It’s time for the end of year concert and the pressure is on.
But there’s no need to panic. With careful preparation in the weeks and months before the concert, you can create a production which runs smoothly. And you can do this with an exciting program of music that both the audience and the performers will enjoy. Here are three steps you can start focusing on right now to produce the best end of year concert at your school.
1. Instill good concert behavior from early on
When you are backstage asking pupils to keep quiet every few seconds, remember that many of them may have never attended a concert before. They may have no idea how an audience is expected to behave. Most parents do not take their children to concerts of classical music. And there are few other forums where this kind of audience behavior is required.
Start to prepare your students right from the beginning of the school year. If possible, organize a school outing to a concert for the older students. They will be able to experience first-hand being part of the audience.
Make the most of school assemblies and similar events to teach your students how to sit quietly. Include a recital slot in your class time. Students can become the audience as one of their peers gives a short solo performance. If any of your students is taking an instrumental exam, this is a great way to help them prepare. It can also inspire others in the class to take up a musical instrument.
Instill this good concert behavior from as early as possible to make your concert much easier to handle.
2. Use digital resources for preparation and programming
Gone are the days when you had to spend hours photocopying parts for ensembles and reminding students to bring their music. With the digital music teaching resources now available, you and your students can have everything you need wherever you need it. Plus, students use apps every day at school and at home. Teaching with such a familiar format can help to make learning more relevant to them and more enjoyable.
Solfeg.io is the perfect tool for concert preparation and programming. The songs available in the app are popular choices to brighten up your end of year concert program. Students will love the opportunity to perform their favorite songs to an audience of parents, siblings and peers.
The Solfeg.io app has comprehensive music notation and minus one features. These enable you to maximize your practice time. There are even chord visualizations for guitar, piano, bass and ukulele included. If students get stuck while practicing, they can often correct their own mistakes.
Solfeg.io can be used by whole classes, ensembles and even soloists. Your students will have access to the same materials as you. This means that they can practice without you at home and during school breaks and lunch hours. Soloists can use the Solfeg.io backing tracks as an accompaniment for their performance. For confident ensembles, once they have learnt their parts, you can switch off the backing track so that they can perform without an accompaniment.
3. Make a rehearsal plan and follow it through
You and your students will all feel better about the end of year concert if it is well rehearsed. With so many children or teenagers to get through the production, this is not the time to improvise!
Create a detailed rehearsal plan. Allow plenty of time in the weeks before the concert to practice every aspect of it. This includes knowing who will present the concert and who will announce each item. Don’t forget to rehearse walking on and off stage. This is especially important if you have large ensembles performing.
Encourage good etiquette from the performers. This should include sitting with good posture, holding their instruments properly, and not chatting between numbers. Practice bowing together at the end.
Try to involve students in every aspect of the show, not just the performing. Some students could be responsible for lighting, ushering and moving chairs and music stands around on stage. This level of involvement allows the students to feel a sense of ownership over their end of year performance. It will therefore help to promote better concert behavior among them.
Producing an end of year concert that is enjoyable for performers and audience alike is well within your reach as a music teacher. The key is in the preparation and it’s never too early to start. Focus on good behavior, the right resources and a detailed rehearsal. Then you can be the relaxed music teacher who watches it all come together on the big night!