Are your concerts riddled with children running in and out, babies crying, and adults socializing? When her elementary school community exhibited poor concert behavior, MENC member Susan DuPree Mincey decided to do something about it. With her principal’s support, she did.
Mincey asked her students to research concert etiquette online.
- She created a music website bibliography, beginning with MENC’s Concert Etiquette Resources.
- She placed an icon for her Web bibliography on the desktops of the computers in the computer lab and students’ classrooms.
- All students in grades 3 to 5 researched concert etiquette on different websites. There was a wide range of sites at various reading levels.
- Students took notes, and used a worksheet to list four dos and four don’ts on how to behave at a concert.
After collecting their facts, students worked in groups of 4 to discuss what they’d learned and add new facts to their worksheets.
Mincey gave students MENC’s online Concert Etiquette Quiz. Students were required to take the quiz as many times as necessary to score 100%. “Everyone was challenged, and all succeeded,” said Mincey.
Grades 3 to 5 music classes then used their research sheets to compile a clear, concise, respectfully stated master list of “Dos and Don’ts of Concert Etiquette.” The list was sent to the principal for approval before publication in a letter to all families.
Students who’d done the research taught what they’d learned to younger students in “Buddy Classes” for grades K–2 through art, speaking, and drama.
A week before the school’s talent show, parents, students, and siblings all signed a family “Commitment Contract for Proper Performance Etiquette.” The contract was sent home with a letter explaining what the school was trying to accomplish. “Families were told that this was a learning experience and that everyone would be working together to create a polite atmosphere for all.”
Mincey asked the principal to grade the community on concert etiquette using a rubric she’d created, and she informed students the grade would be posted in the cafeteria the following morning.
The show was highly successful. “I could see by their faces that my students were aware of the concert etiquette rules, and students even corrected their parents when rules were forgotten!” says Mincey. “Parents apologized when they or their small children made a mistake. The reward was that everyone could hear everything the students performed.”
The final grade was 95 percent, with a subsequent concert being graded at 99.5 percent.
“The real test,” said Mincey, “was our next PTO meeting.” The audience was respectful, and restless children were placed under adult supervision in the PreK classroom during the meeting. “The following day on the school’s morning broadcast, the news team announced a Concert Etiquette Grade of 93 percent.”
“This program has allowed our students, through their research and by educating their families, to see change for the better and experience success that comes through effort.” And everyone in the community benefitted.
Mincey recommends doing an Internet search on “concert etiquette” to create a bibliography of current sites.
Susan DuPree Mincey is a NBCT teacher at Skyview Elementary School in Lizella, Georgia.
This article was adapted from “Members Speak Out” in the October 2005 issue of Teaching Music.
—Linda C. Brown, March 31, 2010, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)