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It is the time of year where many of us elementary general music educators are preparing for some type of holiday or winter concert. I wanted to share the top ten things I have learned when preparing for an elementary general music concert:
- Check with the nurse during the concert week to see which students have visited the nurse’s office or was sent home ill. If I know a child has been ill during the week, I will place that child closer to the front of the risers in case he/she needs to exit quickly from the concert.
- Check excellent music teacher networks, like https://www.facebook.com/groups/musicpln/ with over 11,000 members, to ask them, “What are your favorite concert songs?”
- Check pinterest for more concert ideas. Here is my board for this year’s concert music.
- Since paper programs were ending up on the floor, we changed to projecting the program in PowerPoint during the concert. In addition, we have the concert narrated by a teacher, where each song is introduced with some sort of fun or historical fact about the song.
- The more I like the concert music, the more my students will like the concert music.
- If your concert has a specific dress code, like white tops or ties, keep a few in your classroom in case a student forgets the dress code or if a parent asks for assistance with the dress code. As students outgrow their concert dress code staples, ask to see if the parents will donate those staples.
- When I am lucky enough to have an accompanist, I will also have a few songs accompanied with a pre-recorded accompaniment track. This gives a type of “ear candy,” where the audience gets to experience and hear a variety of types of accompaniments as opposed to one instrument.
- If I can, I try to utilize the older students in my school who study privately on an instrument. I will write a descant or a harmony for them to play along with the younger students’ songs.
- If I feel it is needed, I will also add movements, dances, instruments, and/or props for the students’ songs enhance them.
- Thank anyone and everyone who assists and supports the concert. I could never help the students feel successful when performing on a concert if I did not have the support of the teachers. They assist in rehearsals, support the schedule when the rehearsals change classes around, encourage their students to behave and perform well, and will remind the parents of the concert dress, day, and time on their classroom webpages.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com