7 Ways to Create an Unforgettable Performance

SBO Staff • Music Ed: Mentor MinuteNovember/December 2019 • November 22, 2019

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Whether you’re finishing up your holiday concert rehearsals or starting to plan for your end-of-year finale, here are some ways to make your performance even more memorable. Simply apply one or two of these tips to ensure your concerts are talked about for years to come.

Incorporate Videos and Slideshows

Setting up a slideshow or video to accompany your ensemble’s performance is simple and effective. Playing a patriotic tune? Display a slideshow of your students, family members who have served in the armed forces. Doing a programmatic piece? Play video of scenic wonders. Performing a song with lyrics? Project a slideshow with images of what the lyrics describe. While still being sensitive to copyrighted materials, there are plenty of public-domain and one-time-use images and video available online. Check out Adobe Spark for free use and web-based tools. This makes a great extension opportunity for students, too.

Project Announcements

Display concert announcements, upcoming calendar items, thank you’s, and audience expectations on the wall as your audience comes in. Create a repeating slideshow with a welcome screen that reflects your concert program for a seamless experience.

Project Lights

Leverage the trend of modern holiday decor and invest in a couple of decorative light projectors. There are many affordable and applicable options out there now with a variety of colors, movements, and images. Halloween concert? Project floating ghosts on the ceiling. Winter performance? Try gently rotating snowflakes. Pops concert? Stars of different sizes. These are available everywhere, from your local grocery store to big-box retailer to online for as low as $18.

Make Your Program a PDF

This is environmentally friendly and easier than a printed program. Invite your attendees to open a PDF of the program on their own device. Include your song list and personnel only, or create an immersive experience by adding links to additional interests in your program notes: composer biographies, maps, or  historical context. Just remind your audience to turn their phones on airplane mode during the performance.

Use Props

Creating a visually enticing experience for your audience can be challenging with instruments and stands occupying hands and faces, but don’t let the challenge dissuade you from taking it to the next level. Get creative and think like an elementary music teacher. Use ribbons, balloons, battery-powered candles, confetti, signs, costumes, backdrops…anything to help set the stage, mood, or environment. Note: if you’re going to use an exploding confetti popper, put a warning in your program. Take it from my personal experience, it makes a great ending to the show, but may be slightly terrifying for some of the audience members.

Join Forces

Does your school have a drama club, dance group, or choir? Are there local artists or performers you’re connected with? Bringing in another group or a guest artist can add additional points of interest to your performance, and create something extra special for your ensemble and your audience. Additionally, it builds rapport and camaraderie beyond your own students.

Involve the Audience

Invite your audience to joining in the music and become part of the performance. Some options include: clapping to the beat, singing along, echoing, or even helping decide concert order. Giving them power in the performance goes a long way to creating an unforgettable experience.

Add Movement

This is your chance to get your inner drum corps choreographer on. It can be difficult to emote when blowing or bowing, but that’s not a reason to shy away from it. Choreographed bowing, sticking, horn flashes, and body percussion are great starting points. Add leg movements, switching seats, or even dance moves during rests. A little movement can go a long way to create a truly comical, powerful, and ultimately memorable experience for your students and audience alike.

I hope some of these ideas get you thinking about how to add a little something special to each of your upcoming concerts. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

An experienced K8 music educator, Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, manage, and grow thriving school music programs. She holds a bachelor of music from Brigham Young University and a master of business administration from Western Governors University. Elisa uses her vast and diverse skillset to help nonprofits, businesses, and music educators around the world. She serves as the conductor of her local community band, a columnist for SBO magazine, and maintains a private lesson studio. Elisa is a nationally-recognized speaker, the host and producer of the Music Ed Mentor Podcast, founder of the International Music Education Summit, and author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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