Tired of the same old concert songs year after year? NAfME member Cynthia Brown has some creative ideas to spice up your elementary concert program without spending much time or money.
Focus on a Favorite Children’s Story
- Ask the school librarian to suggest some favorite books.
- Add songs to the story line, and give children instruments for sound effects.
- Ask one or more grade-level teachers or your school administrator to read the story.
- Divide the story into script lines and have your students read it.
- Adapt an illustration from the book as a backdrop for the stage.
- Possible books:o A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (for a winter concert)
o The Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon (for Music In Our Schools Month)
o We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (for a spring concert with Kindergartners)
Write your Own Script
- Select your music and write a script linking the songs together.
- Divide the script into enough spoken parts so every child in the concert has a solo line.
- Collaborate with another teacher and make a cross-curricular concert.
For example, Brown collaborated with the third-grade team to tie a concert in with an outer space unit.
- She selected appropriate music from Music K-8 magazine (Plank Road Publishing).
- Classroom teachers wrote or adapted poems and readers’ theater scripts for their classes.
- Students were immersed in their learning and felt a sense of ownership in their concert performance.
Try a Theme Concert
- Connect Civil War history and music by performing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and focusing on the circumstances in which Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics.
- Show your administrators that you’re using state and National Standards for Music Education—read them as part of the program.
Involve Other Faculty and Administrators
- When Brown’s principal read “The Night Before Christmas” to Kindergartners onstage, followed by a singing of “Up On the Housetop,” “it brought the house down,” she says. “Later, the principal reported that his interactions with parents were more relaxed.”
- Ask your district superintendent to read a poem by Shel Silverstein.
“It’s hard for administrators to say no to a public appearance that has only positive connotations,” says Brown. “And let’s face it, if they’re onstage with your kids, they’re getting a first-hand look at a part of your program, and they’re putting your face together with a successful situation. There’s nothing wrong with that!”
Brown recommends one concert per year and no longer than 20-30 minutes for young children.
Adapted from “Planning Concert Programs for Elementary School Students,” by Cindy Brown, the Maine Music Educators Association The Bulletin, February/March 2010.
—Linda C. Brown, originally posted September 15, 2010, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)