Select a Theme for Your Concerts

Mike Lawson • • March 20, 2017

Have you ever thought of presenting a themed concert?

Holidays are a perennial theme­ favorite but there are many other kinds of themes that can be used, Theme ­oriented concerts not only make for an interesting repertoire selection, but are fun for students and concert­goers alike. They are a welcome diversion from the usual potpourri of concert pieces.

A themed ­concert may contain a few selections of a theme or the entire repertoire may be along the chosen theme. If you choose a theme, have fun with it! Get the students personally involved outside of just playing the music. For example, the stage can be decorated in the manner of the theme or the student musicians can dress in a way that reflects the theme. Program notes can tell why you selected a theme and contain relevant information or fascinating tidbits about the theme. No music group is too young or too old to have a theme ­oriented concert. From the lowest­ grade levels to the highest, students can embrace and enjoy a themed concert. Advertise the fun theme to your community and you may draw a larger attendance at the concert.

Themed­ concerts can be edifying and entertaining for students and concert­goers alike. For instance, say you select the theme of “dances.” Your concert repertoire could include all different types of dance compositions or styles of dances such as waltz, tango, tap, Charleston, square dance, cha­cha­cha, rumba, salsa, swing, the twist, the limbo, the bunny hop, the Hokey Pokey, the Watusi, the “Swim,” the Mashed Potato, and disco.

Want to make the concert extra fun? Use student narration or video. For example, for the theme of “dance,” before the presentation of each selection have a student give a brief presentation about that dance style (such as its history or famous figures) or on a screen present footage of people dancing in that dance style as the school band or orchestra plays. Or have some students from your school dance to the accompaniment of the music.

Themes based around the months of the year offer the potential for lots of different ideas. Anything associated with a month could be an appropriate theme for a concert given during that month.

Themes can also be based around a word, wherein chosen compositions can have the word in its title or they can be about or related to that word. For example, if the theme is “name,” compositions could be selected that have the word “name” in the title or have a specific name in the title like “Maria” or “William.” If the theme is “heroes” the selected compositions could be those with the names of famous adventurers or brave people in them. If the theme is “places” the pieces played could be named after countries, cities, towns or streets. A theme of “crying” can have anything to do with tears, weeping, regretting or sadness in its title. A theme of happiness can have anything to do with joy, bliss or laughter in its title. A theme of “friendship” can have anything to do with affection, alliance, closeness, kindness or solidarity in its title.

One challenge to putting on a themed­ concert could be finding a score of a composition you want to perform. If it is not available from a music publisher you may have the work arranged by yourself (if you are an arranger), a student (if one can do it), or a local composer or arranger. An arrangement may also be found through an Internet search.

So how do you select a theme? You or your students can come up with ideas. Musicians are creative people and after an idea initially hits them they may readily come up with some interesting suggestions of compositions to play. Or you may want to use one of the themes from the lists that follow here, or use the lists as springboards for coming up with your own ideas.

If you pick a theme, your challenge is to select compositions that reflect that theme.

Following here are two lists: one based on the idea of months, the other based on the idea of words. The first list is arranged by the order of the months, commencing with September, the traditional first month of the school year.

People are always looking for things to celebrate so why not have your student band or orchestra celebrate something in a concert with great music?

Concert Themes by Months

September: autumn, school (as the beginning of the school year), hurricanes.

October: monsters, goblins and witches, colors or leaves (as in leaves changing colors).

November: since this is the month of Thanksgiving any of the following would be suitable themes: patriotism, freedom, food.

December: snow, vacation (as schools usually have the last week of this month off), and of course the season’s holidays Christmas and Hanukkah.

January: new year, cold weather, civil rights (honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday). February: love, presidents (since this is the month of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays). March: wind, animals (as March comes in like a lion), spring.

April: rain, humor (for April Fool’s Day), Easter.

May: moms, flowers, fallen soldiers and heroes (in honor of Memorial Day).

June: fathers, summer, sunshine, vacation.

July: the beach, patriotism (in honor of Independence Day),

August: heat, dogs (as in dog days of summer), laziness (as summer is sometimes associated with laziness). Concert Themes by Words

Amazing, B­flat, beauty, beyond, blue, books, bridges, caves, clowns, daydreams, dragons, E­flat, eyes, fears, fiestas, glass, haunted, homes, mountains, jive, jungles, lakes, letters, lights, lullabies, military, night, numbers, parks, patrol, peace, pirates, portraits, prayers, rainbows, rhapsody, rocks, romance, sailors, saints, shadows, skies, smiles, spirits, stars, storms, sun, toys, trains, west, wheels, wizards, woods, world.

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!