The Wow Factor
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
One of the most important tasks for a Music director is creating great performance experiences for both their students and audience. Like most of us, I'm planning for the next concert/contest before the current performance is over. Life seems to revolve around a schedule of musical events, from early days as a student musician to my current job as a Band Director in a small town in Texas.
Over the course of my career, the needs of my program have changed (challenging perhaps, but also, never boring!) For years we did not have Football or Marching Band in our district (I know, crazy, Texas?!). Choosing show themes, designing drill, guard routines, costumes, etc. for half-time shows and contests were no longer a part of my job description. I craved an outlet for my creative brain and choosing 3 pieces for contest once a year wasn't enough. Over time, I realized there was so much more I could do to make things meaningful and fun for myself and my kids. So here are a few factors I consider when "designing" my musical year:
1) Literature/Programming Guidelines- All great concerts have excellent music at the core. Composers and arrangers for school Band, Choir, and Orchestra have greatly expanded the options directors have in choosing music for their students. Knowing the age and attention span (the two do not necessarily go hand in hand) of your audience is an important factor when planning for a performance. I have found that the order, length and variety of tunes and the placement of different ensembles can make a significant difference in keeping your audience engaged.
2) Concert Experiences - I'm a huge Disney fan. When I go to WDW, I'm completely immersed in the sights, sounds, and food (that's a biggie). I want my students and families to feel that they've had a real "night-out" when they come to a performance. How the music is presented, the order of tunes and ensembles, and staging can all add to the audience experience. Pre/Post Concert events leave them coming back for more.
3) Cultural/Historical/Social/Emotional Components - The beautiful thing about being a Music Educator is that we have the ability to teach more than just music. Not only do we have the opportunity to expose our students and community to a bigger, richer world, I believe we have the obligation. Whether in the program notes, or with the microphone, there is so much we can share with our students and audience to strengthen their understanding.
4) Student Projects - Preparing for a performance is not just about practicing the music. Providing opportunities for additional learning can help them delve deeper into additional academic or creative aspects of the music, incorporating their hobbies and personal interests. Involving other departments and faculty, can help build a school culture infused with the Arts.
5) Virtual Performances - This is something new for many of us. How do we translate our live performances to virtual programs that can be put together and viewed remotely? Can we find ways to involve multiple educational departments or even other campuses? Show-casing our student's work in a video montage? This creates a huge challenge, but I'm excited about the possibilities.
So check out the blog for creative programming ideas. (Each blog will include tips for programming, experiences, additional student educational/creative opportunities, and virtual projects) Please share your ideas and if you use any of these, I'd love to hear from you! (More Blog Links coming soon)
Pomp, Luke, and Harry
Magical Mystery Tour
Java & Jive
Pirates and Princesses
World Music Festival
A Night at the Movies
Video Games Live
The Art of Music
Saturday Night Live
Deep in the Heart
In the Good Old Summertime
The Good, The Bad, and the Very Strange
Vive' La France
Space and Beyond
Here There Be Dragons