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December 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm #16912
Do you hold a winter program or holiday sing at your school? What does it include, what are some of your traditions, and what works well?
At many of the elementary schools in our area, including my K-8 school, it is common to have a concert/community sing type of program during the school day on the Friday before winter break. This year, I feel like I’m running into some problems and want to start brainstorming some different types of things to do for next year. For one, the music program has expanded a lot over the past few years, and I think the program is just too LONG for elementary kids to sit through. But it’s “tradition” for all the performing ensembles and every grade level to perform, and now there just seem to be too many groups – I’m at a 70 minute concert this year with every group limited to two pieces! Second, there always seem to be a lot of kids and families absent on the last day of school (leaving early on vacation), and this year the instrumentation in my middle school band has taken a huge hit. These are all things I can work around, I just can’t help but wondering if there might be a better way! Thanks for sharing your traditions!December 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm #16913
Our elementary extra-curricular performing ensembles have a winter concert–it features the 3rd grade chorus, 4th grade chorus, 4th grade band, and 3rd/4th percussion ensemble. We usually keep this concert under 45 minutes. (We usually have each chorus perform 3 songs–one of these is usually accompanied by percussion ensemble–and one combined number. Percussion ensemble performs about 2 songs by themselves, and band usually performs 2-3 short songs with maybe a solo/duet or two.) This is held in the evening for parents, usually during the 2nd week in Dec. The last half-day before winter break, we perform an abbreviated version of this concert during school for the other students–we usually cut one song from each group and eliminate the combined chorus song to cut performance time back to about 30-35 min. There are usually a few kids absent, but not enough to make a big impact. This year, the performance will be concluded with a sing-along for all the students. I run a powerpoint with accompaniments and lyrics for the kids to follow, and it lasts about 10-12 minutes. In previous years, we’ve done the sing-along separately in the afternoon of the day BEFORE the last half-day, while parents are getting the kids’ classrooms ready for winter parties. This year the principal decided that we should just combine the assembly/concert and sing-along so that the teachers wouldn’t have to bring their classes down to the multi-purpose room twice in two days, which is fine with me because then I only have to set up stuff on one day. 🙂
Our performing groups also have a spring concert in May–same groups plus we add select chorus– and that concert is usually about 55-60 minutes total. Also, we have our different grade levels perform programs at other times in the year. We have all students in 3rd/4th (not our extra-curricular groups) perform a program usually held in Jan. or Feb. (this year it’s actually going to be in early March), and all students in 1st/2nd perform a program that’s usually in March or April. These are held during the school day (we perform the program 2x on the same day, once for the school and again for parents) and last about 40 minutes. I also have short informances (about 30 minutes) with each kindergarten class near the end of the school year in late May or early June. So all of our students (except for pre-K) perform at one time of the year or another, but none of the performances is inappropriately long for elementary kids.
At the middle school and high school levels, they’ve actually ended breaking up their spring concerts up into separate instrumental and vocal evenings because there are so many different groups of students, and there is an additional recital featuring just the H.S. chamber choir and one for the M.S./H.S. small instrumental groups (jazz bands, woodwind and brass groups, etc.) so that each group gets an adequate amount of time for performance but the concerts aren’t ungodly long. Of course, parents of kids in more than one group have to come out on multiple nights… BUT, we also have the additional problem of seating in our MS/HS auditorium as well when they hold both the vocal/instrumental programs during the same concert, especially at our MS winter concert. It is literally SRO–which is uncomfortable enough in the winter, but unbearable in the spring when it’s 80+ degrees w/no air conditioning. So another reason they split the concerts.January 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm #18047
The October 2012 issue of Teaching Music has a 4-page article on winter concerts (p. 28) with some ideas on this topic.
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