Reply To: Performance Programs for K, 1, 5, 6
My programs are all seasonal : Winter / Holiday songs, Black History and Spring (the theme of which varies each year). For K/1 definitely incorporate motions and simple lyrics. CD / mp3 accompaniments are fine; I use them regularly with my choir so that we can program fun music. (For mp3s, Amazon is my best friend – $1 each give or take. Search for Karaoke Version.) I agree that you should talk to people in your building and get a feel of what has been done before, what they would like to see / hear done. Here are some ideas for a spring program for K and 1: color songs, animal songs, nature songs.
Grades 5 and 6 are tricky because the children want to be / act older than they really are. Though they may be pre-teen, treat them like 15 year-olds. This means give them choices, definitely incorporate popular music and some dance steps!! Again, see what you have to work with. You may have some students who have been dancing or singing since first grade who are anxious to solo. You may have students who play an instrument outside of school; that’s something you should incorporate into your performance. Maybe a student or teacher could provide a light accompaniment to one piece in your performance!! In any case, in this level you should get them singing in two parts. Harmonic singing would be perfect in a Black History program. Perform Lift Ev’ry Voice in two parts (lower voices sing a downward step pattern, upper voices melody). Consider getting some inspiration from Glee or High School Musical, though the latter is a bit old for today’s students. The only problem with these pieces is that they’re obviously still under copyright, so you’d have to purchase a book for a copy of the score. (Unless a friend or colleague has a copy. Ask around.) The good news is that you won’t violate copyright laws if you make your own arrangement of a copyrighted piece. If you print your version and try to sell it as your own without permission, then you’re in trouble.
Preparation time: Allow at least 3 months to prepare for a program. I’ve done Winter / Holiday programs with 2 months of rehearsals, but those were intense rehearsals and very stressful. (I was once hired as a permanent sub six weeks before the concert and the principal answered me “of course we still want to have a concert!!”) Of course you want your kids to know the songs COLD – ideally memorized so that they won’t have to use song sheets. Ask your 5 and 6th graders to practice the songs for homework. K and 1s will likely happily sing the songs to their parents w/o being asked to.
Introduce the songs part by part, unless it’s a very simple song. Break them down: chant the words rhythmically (with or without a score in the kids’ hands – 5 and 6) then add the melody. When you think they have it, play games: give a rhythm stick to one student and ask the students to each sing a line of the song when they get “the singing stick” or whatever you want to call it! (In Elementary teaching, teachers often use a microphone or “talking stick” as a visual / distraction for getting students to read alone.) …. 55 minutes is a lot of time – lucky you!! Break up the time into 10 or 15 minute increments – even for older kids. That’s a magic number for children of all ages. After that they tend to check out, even if playing a game. You might have the kids listen to a recording of a piece you will teach them — have words or a score in front of them — then have them stand and echo you on rhythmic chanting of the words, or clapping the rhythm of the words.