Preparing an Elementary Concert / Program

When you start a new music teaching job, you might get very little direction about what to do about your concerts, except what the dates are. Here are some things to consider:

1. First things first.

  1. Check if date has been planned.
  2. Check if an evening concert will include a stipend.

2. Choose theme/songs.

  1. What has been done in the past?
  2. Expectations of teachers/parents?
  3. Philosophy of building (Do they want a simple program only involving the music teacher; do they expect a grand production with other teachers/parents helping?)
  4. What songs are available? appropriate? educational? (Is there a budget to order music?)
  5. Check if classroom teachers do programs/ themes.
  6. Add extras: movement (motions, hand jives, sign language, dances), instruments, narration, costumes
  7. Assign parts and send note home to parents. Find a time to rehearse with those students and/or ask parents/teachers to help.
  8. Balanced program: folk songs, songs the audience will recognize, and newer composed songs.
    1. 3rd, 4th, 5th grade programs
    2. 1st & 2nd grade programs
    3. Chorus ideas

3. Reserve risers

  1. How many and from where?
  2. Need them to rehearse a few days prior?
  3. 3 or 4-step risers? With shell? With guard rail?
  4. Fill out a work order?

 4. Reserve space

  1. What set up do you need?
  2. Equipment? (instruments, mike, podium, music stand, stage)
  3. Fill out a work order?
  4. Scenery – work with parents or art teacher

5. Find accompanist. Pay? (Ask school or PTA.)

6. Communicate!

  1. Let principal, teachers and secretaries know well in advance what you are planning, especially if there are any schedule changes.
  2. Give parents plenty of notice through newsletters and notes home. I usually send two notes home: one several weeks in advance that announces the date and time, and one about a week in advance that gives details. Even give them a gentle reminder of what the audience etiquette is.
  3. Put it on the website!

7. Dress rehearsal

  1. Special schedule during the day? Let teachers know in advance!
  2. Before/ after school rehearsal: permission slip to go home.
  3. Mandatory chorus rehearsals before a concert; remind parents.

8. Programs

  1. Cover: buy, art teacher or student design, computer-designed.
  2. Inside: Who will type? Write names of any volunteers, accompanist, instrument players, chorus students. Also include composers/arrangers.
  3. Who will photocopy? fold?

9. Discuss with students

  1. Arrival time and place to meet
  2. Performance behavior
  3. What order to line up in
  4. How to get on/off risers

See also

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6 thoughts on “Preparing an Elementary Concert / Program”

    1. Hi Christina! I can’t answer for everyone what is “best,” but in the schools where I have taught, it was important to me to not require my students to purchase something extra. A simple option is to ask them to wear black pants and white shirts. (Still, some families would have to buy those.) Even simpler, I have just asked them to dress “nicely,” not in ripped or dirty clothes. Another option is to ask your school or parent organization to purchase matching shirts for everyone, and the students must supply black pants. (That was never an option for me.) I hope this helps! – Beth

  1. Do you do a new program with every grade every year?

    Like 1st grade sings the same songs every year, 3rd grade sings the same songs every year, etc.

    If not why?

    1. Hi Madison!

      Good question! It certainly is a good idea to repeat programs that you know are successful. It certainly helps lessen the amount of planning, especially if you have to do multiple programs each year.

      I personally haven’t repeated the same program twice in a row (but I have sometimes used some songs twice), mostly because I get bored. 🙂 But, you do what works for you!

      – Beth

  2. Hey, Beth.

    I teach at a really small school in NW Missouri, and we are getting ready for our Christmas Program on Monday. We had a combined practice today with PK-6. I would believe that kids would behave better in a performance setting. I say this because behavior was not at our best (unfocus, talking, etc…). If you have these things happen, I understand. So, what should I address on Monday?

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