Quick Tips Before You Perform

Spring concert season and MIOSM are here! What last minute performance tips do you give your students before a concert? Do you yourself have particular practices or guidelines that you observe prior to a class performance? MENC choral mentor Seth Gardner offered some tips for directors.


1. Perform only pieces that are well rehearsed. If the children and the director do not have confidence in their ability to perform the song well in a rehearsal, they won’t perform it well at a concert.

2. Leave the audience wanting more…everyone would rather hear two well performed pieces rather than four mediocre ones.

3. Don’t change your rehearsal habits just before a concert. Kids need a routine, and they’ll perceive changes as your lack of confidence in them.

Gardner says:
“I have observed many directors, through their own actions, upset their choruses by changing their normal pattern of behavior. As far as routine before a performance, I treat it just like a rehearsal. I use the same warm-ups and have them sing a few measures of the pieces they will perform in the order they will perform them. Business as usual.”

4. Don’t make musical changes or expect to cure a mistake in the days just prior to a performance. Never attempt any musical change the day of a performance!

5. Once a song is learned, sing it in different locations in your school (hallways, gyms, and stairwells). The kids, and you, will learn to deal with different acoustics more easily.

Any habits the children or director form during rehearsals will carry on to the performance. Just because the kids are in front of an audience doesn’t mean their posture, effort, or behavior will suddenly change.

6. Try to be calm at the performance. Don’t get uptight if something isn’t perfect, i.e. logistics, timing etc. If you relax, show confidence, and handle the unexpected, they will too.

“I rarely give a pep talk, and if I do, it’s very brief. The kids already know how I feel about them and their abilities. If we are standing on the risers waiting to perform, and a there is a closed curtain, I try to lighten the mood by joking with them, softly.

“Now, having said all of that, there have been plenty of times when I have looked up and said “it’s in your hands now God” just before I give a down beat!”  — Seth Gardner

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

–Sue Rarus, March 4, 2011, © National Association for Music Education