Pre-Performance Tips: Create a Disturbance!

In answer to the question, “Have any last minute performance tips you give your kids before a concert/performance?” MENC choral mentors Seth Gardner and Ken Tucker offered some tips and observations. Add yours!


1. Do not wear perfumes or other heavily scented products
2. Don’t drink milk or eat within an hour of performing.
3. Stay hydrated.
4. Use the bathroom before the performance!
5. Be on time
6. Come in required concert outfit
7. Be mentally prepared to perform
8. Be attentive and listen for instructions

Gardner says: “In rehearsals I insist that they focus on me during the performances and pretend the audience is not even there. I tell them to visualize themselves singing in the choral room on a regular day.


1. Smile
2. “I also always tell my students not to lock their knees when they perform, as it can cause them (especially boys) to faint.” (Gardner)
3. Refrain from talking while on stage, including between pieces.
4. Always behave with professionalism and integrity.

Gardner adds:  “When my select group performs in venues that are large, unusual, or very special, I tell the students to ‘Act like you have been here before’. Always demonstrate poise and professionalism even though you may be nervous and/or excited.”


Fred Ritter, MENC member from Nebraska, once received some non-music advice: “Tell the Truth! Create a Disturbance! Make a Difference!”

Fred explains: “When you express yourself in speech, song or actions, be truthful. In your voice, your body language, your facial expressions, in every fiber of your being, be honest and sincere.”

“Telling the truth…will often create a disturbance in your listener. Telling the truth can change the way people feel, act or perceive something. Communication with sincerity and honesty can make a difference in people’s lives. I have found this life lesson to be very useful in my choral program. When I select a piece of music, I want to make sure the text has something to say that is relevant to me and to my students.”

Seth Gardner teaches classroom and choral music at Haverford Township Middle School in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Ken Tucker is the director of vocal music at Pacific High School in Missouri.

Fred Ritter teaches vocal music at Columbus High School in Columbus, Nebraska. His original article “Tell the Truth! Create a Disturbance! Make a Difference!” first appeared in the April 2000 issue of Nebraska Music Educator and was reprinted in the MENC book Spotlight on Teaching Chorus.

–Sue Rarus, February 25, 2009, © National Association for Music Education