The holiday concert in your school is great PR for the entire school! It shouldn’t be up to the music teacher to do all the organizing.
Planning and Delegating Responsibility: At a staff meeting early in the fall, discuss how the holiday concert will be handled. Administration should make it clear to staff that this is a school event – not the music teachers big show. All staff should be expected to help with planning, and all should be expected to attend. A coordinator for the concert is required – usually the music teacher – , but if the school is supportive, the music teacher in the school isn’t burdened with doing everything
The following tasks could be delegated:
Backdrop: One teacher or parent can take responsibility for preparing and putting up the backdrop. Simple backdrops are good. You can purchase white tarps from Home Depot. If you make your backdrop somewhat generic, you can recycle them. We painted “Happy Holidays” on half of the white tarp and stapled garland around the edges. The garland probably won’t last forever, be we don’t have to redo the sign each year. If you don’t want the same backdrop every year, create 3-4 different ones and cycle them through. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel each year!
Sound System: One teacher or parent is responsible for locating a good quality sound system, with 4 mikes: 2 for the choir, and at least 2 for soloists. If the school doesn’t have a good sound system, try renting one. If you’re in a rural location without rentals, a local dance band may have a PA system they would loan you or rent to you. Have a backup plan! Borrow a karaoke machine to have on stage so you have a backup in case your sound system crashes in the middle of your concert.
Risers: One teacher or parent should be responsible for borrowing and/or setting up risers.
Stage Helpers: A couple of stage hands for the night of the concert should be found. There is always something that needs to be adjusted, and the concert co-ordinator doesn’t have enough hands to do it all. I often have a few responsible fifth graders become my stage hands. Some of the kids that really don’t like speaking parts, make great stage helpers! The stage helpers should remember to bring some emergency supplies in case of accidents:
* paper towels (vomit, leaky bladders)
* big garbage can, big garbage bags
* clorox wipes, rubber gloves (vomit)
* broom and dustpan (broken flashlight candles)
* kleenex (bleeding noses, runny noses)
Scene Rehearsal: Even when there is a music specialist every classroom teacher should provide extra rehearsal time for their own classes. The music specialist can make a tape or CD of the class’s song, for rehearsal purposes so the classroom teachers can help. (Themes & Variations Christmas programs allow you to do this – please check copyright regulations on other publications before copying anything!) Classroom teachers can use music or physed
time to rehearse songs and dances. When they have them learned, bring in the concert coordinator to help with entrances, exits and staging. Ask all staff members to prepare the children for the “what if’s” that can happen. If you are the music specialist, allow time to go through this with all children who will be in the concert.
* “What if – you have to puke?” (Get to the garbage can at the side of the stage if you can!)
* “What if – you have to go the bathroom?” (Use bathroom before show. Don’t drink pop!)
* “What if – you feel woozy?” (If you feel woozy when on stage, just sit down and put your head between your knees.) At least they won’t fall off the top riser!
Costumes: Meet with the concert co-ordinator to plan costumes for each group. The co-ordinator or the classroom teacher should determine determine what costumes and props are needed. Decide who will be sending notes home to parents with details of what their child should wear. Keep it simple! The easier the better. Sometimes just a hat will give the class the look you want.
Program: One teacher or parent should take responsibility for printing the program and for handing it out at the door (or choosing students to do this) at the actual concert. Publicity: One teacher or parent should take responsibility for sending notes home giving the date, time and location of the concert.
Supervision Backstage: The concert coordinator will be in the wings, coordinating entrances and exits. Two teachers or aides will be needed backstage to ensure that groups are ready to go on, on cue. All classroom teachers will be needed to supervise their children off stage. This is probably going to be the toughest hour of the school year. I had 90 children backstage one year. I played Concentration, Stella Ella Olla, and Topnotcher with them and managed to have fun while we waited. Directions for those 3 games are in “Singing Games Children Love” Volume 1 and 2, published by Themes & Variations. Videos don’t work well, unless you have a very large screen and a loud sound system. Taking children back to their own classroom and playing board games seems to be a good solution also.
Concert Setup: The concert coordinator will need some release time from regular classes to organize the setup of the stage area. Be sure to ask in your newsletter for parent volunteers to help with this. The backdrop needs to be put up, and all student art work that you can display, should be put up. A final check needs to be made that all
props are ready to be taken on stage from the wings. There are 2 things that parents hate at a Christmas concert – not being able to see their child, and not being able to hear what is being said and sung. Check and double check your sound system, and use risers so your students are all seen!
Photos/Videotaping: Ask a staff member to find a parent volunteer to take photos and videotape the concert. You might have a staff member that takes great photos and give her the job.
Cleanup: One year I forgot to delegate a clean up crew, so guess who ended up cleaning up? Don’t forget to have teachers and parents who are responsible for taking down the backdrop and art work, loading instruments and props into vans, and returning them to school or to classrooms.
Concert Co-ordinator: You still need a concert co-ordinator to bring the whole show together. Email makes communication with the staff a lot easier than it use to be, so use it frequently so that all staff knows what is going on. This is the co-ordinators checklist:
Concert Date: ____________________________________________
Time: ________________________ Grades Involved: _________________________________
Staff Member in Charge of: Verified/Done:
Backdrop: ____________________________________________ ____________
Sound System: ____________________________________________
Stage Helpers: ____________________________________________ ____________
Publicity/Notes to Parents: ____________________________________________ ____________
Supervision Backstage: ____________________________________________ ____________
Concert Setup: ____________________________________________
Photos/Videotaping: ____________________________________________ ____________
Concert Etiquette: Sometimes parents need a little education about concert etiquette. This may be especially true in schools where parents rarely attend concerts. Talking during performances, leaving the concert early, having CEL phone conversations are not infrequent complaints about parents in school concerts. To help to educate your
parents, you might consider having a couple of students or the first class on stage read a poem at the beginning of the concert. In the Holiday Concert Scripts Collection the Concert Etiquette rap is given with two extra verses – one about babies crying and taking them out and one about parent paparazzi – parents who rush to the stage to photograph their child.
Holiday Concert Scripts – This is a collection of 14 scripts for holiday concerts written by teachers from all over Canada and the USA. It includes song suggestions, but you will find it very easy to use or substitute your own song choices. A PDF file of all the scripts will be available so you can easily cut and paste and create your own concert.
http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=HOL (This is the Canadian site – go to musicplay.ca for the US site)
Do you like to do an inclusive program? Celebrate Around the World includes a concert opener and a finale, a simple script, and 10 songs – Day of Eid, Diwali, a partner song using O Hanukkah, a partner song with Joy to the World, a great song about Snowing, Kwanzaa, and Gung Hay Fat Choi for Chinese New Years. This collection has beautiful vocals and orchestrations. You can use it in December — or ANY time of year!
Celebrate Around the World – This collection of 10 composed and traditional songs could be used as a holiday concert or could be used any time of year as a multicultural celebration. Songs for Day of Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter (Snowing), Chinese New Years, Kwanzaa are included. A simple script is included as well as an interactive vocal PDF to print or to project. (Includes linked audio)
http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=CEL (This is the Canadian site – go to musicplay.ca for the US site)