It’s that time of year again! Summer is in sight, so year-end concerts are coming ever closer. Even the most veteran classroom teachers I work with can get pretty anxious about ensuring that their class execute a flawless number, that every child know every word and movement. I often reassure them that the best part about kids’ school concerts are the unexpected interpretive dance, the over-loud correction (“NO! It’s Hop hop hop! not bop!”) or that one kid who suddenly realizes they have a captive audience for the next two minutes or so and takes advantage accordingly. So here are five tips to help you get through concert season:
1. Work with the kids at a developmentally appropriate level.
As member Gari Stein said: “Solicit songs that the children love, are relevant to them and find a way to include movement and props, such as scarves, rather than standing on risers and just singing. I would also think of it not as a performance, but rather a demonstration of what we have done throughout the year and would involve the parents/grown-ups somewhere in the program.”
Member Susan Salidor agreed: “With preschoolers, don’t over-choreograph songs. Once children are in the “spotlight,” costumes, movements, lyrics can be overwhelming to young ones. Avoid all stages, risers and bright lights when you are planning a preK performance. Work with your school/center/lead teacher to make the end of the year performance less of a performance.”
2. Start Early
I usually like to have a list of possible songs for the December concert by September, and the end-of-year concert by March. I start lightly incorporating the songs as early as I can. In this way I have a pretty good chance of avoiding those harried days before a concert singing the same three songs over and over again until everyone is sick of them.
3. Get the teachers involved, but try to contain the madness.
I usually give teachers a list of about six or seven songs and tell them to pick their favorite. That way they feel involved but it is a little more controlled than a “tell me what songs you like and I’ll see if I can find them” approach. That being said, a motivated teacher with a song in mind is always welcome! I’ve had a few who struck out on their own and the results were usually great. It’s wonderful when a song inspires a teacher to set up practice times outside of music class and is always eager to show me how far their students have come over the last week.
4. Choose a singable key.
This is especially important if the melody has a large range.
5. Use resources like ours here at CMN!
It is easy to fall into a song rut. CMN has an active list-serv and online resources for members that are chock-full with over 25 years of contributions for any season. As Susan says, end of the year shows are great opportunities to showcase the many fabulous songs written by CMNers or songs CMNers have shared with you. In this way, you can introduce children and their families to music they might not otherwise hear. Her current favorites are: If You’ve Got the Sun (Kaldor), My Roots Go Down (Pirtle) and Building a Better World (Allard).
Do you have any suggestions to add?