Saturday, September 14, 2013

How I process and plan a concert...

So usually our Holiday Concert for our Lower School ( I teach in an independent, AKA private school) is usually in December. However, this year I am having my 4th surgery (and hopefully FINAL one) at the end of November so we are going to have our holiday concert in early November. I am calling it "Falling Into Winter". I typically begin with a concert theme or title; not a whole lot of creative options with a holiday concert, although one of my favorites was "Songs of Night, Songs of Light" and we performed many songs about the moon, stars, starlight, and songs using, as one of my students said, "sparkly sounds"; glockenspiels, cymbals, and jingle bells. It was one of my favorites! Once I've settled on a theme, I then have to find or write music for that concert. This year I wrote an opening song with the concert title. It's a play on the word "falling" as both leaves and snow falls. As the concert is early in November, I begun this past week practicing a few songs with each class, then gradually, as students become more familiar with these songs, I start to add a couple more, then as these become familiar, we add more. Typically I review these at the beginning of class as a "warm up" and then we move into more complex (and lengthier) lessons involving a rhythmic or melodic concept, etc. Often once we start to learn a song, I will find that it might be "too" easy a song for the children, so I'll add a more rhythmic part on unpitched or Orff instruments to the orchestration. I keep in mind that what is added needs to challenge the students growth and use something that will focus on a concept (syncopation, half notes, etc.) that I can use as a practical application of a skill. Programming for me includes some novelty or fun songs, something in Hebrew (see my post last year about performing traditional Hebrew folk songs instead of contrived Hanukkah songs), something to do with "light" or candles, some more serious material for older students, and an audience participation number that I call "Surprise" in the program. Last year I used "Sleigh Ride" which the students rehearsed and at the concert I taught parents. It was hysterical and everybody loved the activity!!! I always find concerts and performances to be fun for all, and I really do love to create music or make a twist on something "old". Happy concert planning!

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