Delivering a music concert requires you to be focused on delivering the best creative performances as well as manage the logistics and smooth running of the event. In fact, when so many music teachers work alone, this is a massive amount of work by itself. So it is no wonder that we forget to plan what we are going to say until 5 minutes before the concert!
Over the years I have had a lot of ‘input’ from admin and colleagues – trying to tell you how to present and what should not be included. In all honesty what they wanted was not a true reflection of my program, style of teaching or personality as a music teacher. At times I did try to ‘do what they say’ for an easy life but it always left me feeling frustrated because I knew I was doing a disservice to my students, colleagues, programme and not being my authentic self!
My advice – be your authentic self because that is why the students attend your program and why the parents support it.
So here are a few tips for this concert season:
Tip 1 – Use presenting as a chance for set change
Train your stage management team to quietly change the set whilst you are linking one item to the next. It will save all those awkward silences for the audience who really don’t want to watch stands being moved. The bigger the set change the longer you will need to present – this is a great time to promote your program, the work of your students, the value of the arts within your community, signing up for music lessons or general achievements from the year.
Tip 2 – Why did you pick the piece?
I watched a concert recently and the students and music teacher were amazing. They were playing very challenging music that was brilliantly executed. But, the conductor never said the title of the piece or why it was picked. The audience love a little context – so don’t be afraid to give a 30 second into. Remember they have been listening to their child practice those challenging parts for a few months now! Oh and it will also give your percussionists a chance to swap instruments and get their beaters ready!
Tip 3 – Background on the group performing
You know why the group are performing and what you do in the rehearsals. Your students performing will know too. However, your audience won’t and we mustn’t presume that they do just because their child attends all your groups on a weekly basis. Plug and celebrate the hard work, challenges, development and commitment of the group. Let’s be honest, committing to music clubs for a whole academic year is rare and worthy of huge celebrations. Most students who commit to sport only do these clubs for the season not the whole year. So our music students are a special bunch – let’s cheer them on.
Tip 4 – Promote the value of academic music
I always loved having performances by my GCSE, IB and A Level exams classes because these were the students who have picked to study academic music and you get a chance to celebrate this and ensure that parents and staff understand just how hard academic music is and how dedicated these students truly are! Remember to keep a balance – so that people don’t accuse you of having favourites – but explaining and educating why your oldest students need to be showcased helps the audience understand.
Tip 5 – Programme / Running Order
The recent concert I attended as an audience member didn’t have a programme. Although that didn’t really matter it would have been lovely to have had the title of the piece, composer and the name of performers at least projected on a screen or introduced. What I like about programmes is the chance to recognise all the performers and staff involved in the show and that parents love to keep these as a memento of their child’s school life. If you don’t have a programme then mark sure that you include the information in your addresses to the audience.
And finally, keep your presentation about the students who are performing and not too long. Parents want to hear their child play and not listen to 5 minute speaches. Remember this is a fantastic opportunity to market your department to encourage everyone to keep supporting the arts.
If you want more ideas then head over to Passionate about Music Education Youtube channel where I share more top tips!
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