I have been thinking about public performances of late and I have a few thoughts on what might help create the “Perfect Concert”. Of course there are lots of different factors, and context is everything, but hopefully these points might get you thinking about your concerts and some might be of use.
It will be different for every type of school I guess, but I am thinking of these ideas linked to a big school concert, maybe an end of term or end of year event. I think smaller concerts are great, but these points might help you with your next big school concert:
- Set the date well in advance and make sure people have it in their diary.
- Use Social Media to keep people up to date and build an audience in advance.
- Tickets – you can raise money with a concert and so it is worth charging a price for a ticket. Relate this to the scale of the event, but remember, people don’t mind paying to come and hear quality.
- If possible, have a licensed bar. For me is costs £21 to get a license and then I can sell alcohol at the concert. This is a great way of not only raising money, but also making the evening that bit more special for the audience.
- Make sure you have a good quality sound system PA setup and make sure you test it before hand. There is nothing worse than a performance that no one can hear or that is riddled with feedback issues.
- Use lighting to help create atmosphere and light up your stage. This can be a simple setup and there is no need to change lighting during the evening. Speak to your drama department if you need help and advice.
- Decide if you want to use a programme. Personally, I often don’t. I like to either announce performers or have them announce themselves. A programme is only good when you are really organised and where nothing is going to chance in the evening/running order.
- Make sure that you showcase everything you can. Concerts are a platform for all types of students and it isn’t always going to be that every performance is as polished as the next. Bring together senior and junior groups and also make room for soloists to perform. Variety is good as well as some comedy. I used to even have a magician perform at my big events as there was a boy in Year 12 who was a magician!
- Invite a local feeder school to come along and perform in the concert. This will bring variety, provide inspiration to younger students and also bring in some more ticket sales. It will also be great marketing for your school & department.
- Make sure it isn’t too long, but also don’t worry about that too much. People expect my concerts to be long, but they are entertaining and there is always an interval and a licensed bar.
- Make sure you work out how you are going to set up various orchestras and bands. It is always good to think through when you are going to clear stands, percussion and pianos. I like to think about what we can set up in advance, what we can clear in the interval and what we can then set up for the second half. Having a video of photos is always a good filler whilst you clear the stage.
- Get support from students who can run your tech and sound on the night. This is great for them and it means you don’t have to worry about it.
- Use the concert to advertise what else is going on in music, celebrate success and share information about future events. It is important that concerts are a way to communicate all you are doing with the community and parents.
- If possible, invite your local Mayor or local Rotary Club rep. It is great to show off your school to local community leaders and groups.
- Make sure you enjoy it and that this comes across. Don’t let your concert stress you out. Enjoy it, take it all in and share your passion with the students. A concert is all about the students and them enjoying sharing what they do day in day out.
Concerts are so important. They won’t all be big and they won’t all be perfect – and possibly never will be perfect. But I think every term needs a big event and hopefully these points might get you thinking. I also advocate smaller concerts that are easy and simple and short – no strings attached!
I hope your next event is a huge success! And The Albert Hall is nice, but your school can be just as good!