It is part of the life a music department – performance. Whether it be in class or a public performance, it is crucial that students not only take part, but are also exposed to performance of music.
So far this term I have had a number of examples of this:
Year 11 Solo Performances – In class, recorded in front of everyone. These lessons are always so much fun for the class. The students are all now well trained at how to perform, listen and support. We always perform in front of each other and it makes for a lovely lesson. After each performance I try and give a quick What Went Well and then a quick Even Better If. I then mark the work and put the recording and feedback online so that they can actually hear what they did and then read the feedback.
Lower School Concert – It is important to have small scale performances – don’t worry about a massive audience, a big hall or anything too grand. I do a Lower School Concert at the start of each academic year to give new students a safe and accessible performance space and just create an atmosphere where students can perform simple pieces and don’t need to worry about doing something grand and “big”. I love this concert. It is short, easy to organise and manage and it also reveals some of the talent that often can go unnoticed. I get to know the new Year 9 musicians and I also always find that a student has some amazing ability that I didn’t even know about. This year a boy sat at the piano, played himself and sang/rapped over the top. It really is a “you had to be there moment” because it was amazing. I knew he was musical and he plays sax, but I had never heard him sing. It was a great moment and one I will remember.
A Night At The Musicals – This has now become a regular feature in my department calendar. It is an evening where soloists perform a song from a musical. It is my favourite evening, although I do have to play a lot of pieces and my piano skills are far from amazing. What I love about this kind of evening is that you see so much courage in the young people who perform. You have people who have never sung a solo before who want to dip their toes into the world of performing a show song and then those who have been doing it for years and inspire those who are just starting. I love the variety and I love the atmosphere. I hold the concert in our drama studio as it is a little more intimate and we can get some nice lighting sorted. My most recent NATM happened just last night and I thought I would share the songs that were performed as I think it was just the best setlist I have ever had! This concert is so a good one and it attracts a good crowd of people. It is also like an extended audition for any future musicals you might stage.
- If I Can’t Love Her (Beauty and the Beast)
- I Wanna Be Like You (The Jungle Book)
- This is the Moment (Jekyll & Hyde)
- Beauty & The Beast (Beauty and The Beast)
- Wonderful (Wicked)
- I Speak 6 Languages (Putnam Spelling Bee)
- Leave (Once)
- Someone You’d Be Proud Of (The In-Between)
- If I Told You (The Wedding Singer)
- She Used to Be Mine (Waitress)
- That Face (The Producers)
- I Know Things Now (Into The Woods)
- Somewhere (West Side Story)
- For Good (Wicked)
- Reviewing the Situation (Oliver)
- Funny Honey (Chicago)
- Consider Yourself (Oliver)
- Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (Phantom)
- Pilates Dream (Jesus Christ Superstar)
- Nothing Short of Wonderful (Dogfight)
- All I Ask of You (Phantom)
- He Lives in You (The Lion King)
- Goodbye (Catch Me if You Can)
- Still Hurting (The Last Five Years)
- Who I’d Be (Shrek)
- Fine Fine Line (Avenue Q)
- Empty Chairs (Les Mis)
- History of Wrong Boys (Kinky Boots)
And of course every department needs a big end of term concert that brings together all of the groups that work outside of the classroom every week. You have to have something to work towards. A choir, orchestra, band or ensemble will have so much more drive and energy if there is a concert on the horizon. What I find with this first term is that we get to try out our material at our School Open Evenings as well – so there is another performance opportunity. I have mentioned this previously but you always need music that can be performed in school and at school events. This term we have had our two open evenings and we will also have our end of half term assemblies that celebrate the term and we will perform at these.
So in summary this half term we have had the following performances/opportunities and I find that seeking out such opportunities really does help a music department and gives it a sense of purpose:
Local First School Autumn Fayre – always good to support local schools and great for school PR and marketing
Community Gig – we were lucky enough to perform at Windsor Castle for a big event there called The concours of Elegance – lots of expensive and very nice cars! Really fun event. Community events are great for PR and marketing but can also bring in some much needed funds!
Lower School Concert – Small Scale intimate concert with nothing grand, just lovely music in a nice setting
Assembly Performances – essential to show that music is very much part of school life and inspire other students. Plus music just makes an assembly that bit more exciting.
Open Evening – You are helping to sell the school but also showcase the department. Don’t overlook this kind of event and really prepare for it in rehearsals.
NATM – My idea of a great evening of music – a chance to showcase singers. And also the drama techie boys love to play with lights!
End of Term Showcase Concert – Bring together everything you have been working on all term. Sell tickets, have a bar, raise some money and let parents and community know what you are all about. Students love it and it rounds off the term.
In Class performing – essential for all Key Stages and really creates a lovely environment in class.
Keep your music department alive with performances! And when you are rehearsing at school open all the doors and windows so that your music spreads out around the school. My staff love hearing the music in the morning!