Programming a Joint Performance

Lesley Schultz • November 2022String Section • November 13, 2022

Maybe there is a big anniversary of your school coming up, or an annual arts festival and you want to try something different. Either way, administration and/or the community want to see a collaborative work between the band, orchestra, and choir. This can be a great way to highlight all three programs strengths and provide a united front in this time of arts cutbacks.  

The first thing to consider is who will be on the program. Will it be all the students, or only select groups? When it comes to wind instruments will it be a select group to fill out a full orchestra type situation or will it be the whole band joining the strings and/or the choir? Sometimes this is determined by the repertoire to be performed. A full orchestra and chorus performance of selections from The Messiah will look a lot different than a performance of Christmas on Broadway. There are many string and chorus selections out there as well as band and chorus, so choose programming that is right for your school and your groups.  

Once you have determined the repertoire and/or the groups that will perform, it is time to get into a rehearsal schedule. Do the groups meet during the same time during the school day? If so, come up with a rehearsal schedule that can work that to your advantage. If not, then come up with a mutually agreed upon after-school rehearsal schedule. Make sure to give plenty of notice to students/adults that these rehearsals are occurring and why they are critical to the performance coming up. Work with athletics to reduce as many conflicts as possible. A general rule is to keep rehearsals to the absolute minimum, so that they tend to be more important on the athletic event vs. music event scale. Just be prepared that games will almost always rank above your rehearsal so exercise grace with these students. I firmly believe that students, if they communicate with all the parties, should be able to be in as many activities as they feel comfortable with. 

Next, once rehearsals have been set, talk with your colleagues about who will conduct the repertoire. If multiple repertoire selections are being performed, then I feel it is important that as many different conductors should be featured as possible. This is a great learning opportunity for the students, as every conductor has their own ways of conducting a large group situation like this, and they need to learn to follow the cues of different conductors. This also give administration/community another visual cue that the arts are united. Have that conversation with your colleagues about who will conduct what.  

Finally, start rehearsing the music with your students in class, and make sure they are prepared for the big rehearsals closer to the performance. Planning a big performance with multiple groups takes a little planning, but it is worth it for the students who get to perform with friends that are not in their group, see other conductors and play music they would not have performed otherwise. For your next big arts festival or something similar consider putting on a multi-discipline performance!

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). 

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