Friday, May 8, 2015

Year 5: Week 33 – All Call

Sometimes music teachers get this idea in their head that it would be a good idea to put masses of students on stage for a performance. Wouldn’t it be fun to have an entire grade perform a song? It’s only about sixty kids. Why not combine all of the bands to make a massive ensemble of almost one hundred kids? Or do some fun cross grade work and have 3rd graders perform with 7th graders to make a massive choir that also reaches into the triple digits.

This past week, my thoughts have been deep into preparing for an all-call band performance at an assembly on Monday that also features a cross-grade 3rd grade and 7th grade choir. These are the kind of crazy ideas that cause a lot of stress, make us second-guess ourselves and put us in situations that seem to teeter from being phenomenal to being a complete disaster.

Whenever I’m thinking of putting together one of these projects, I try to focus on the “should,” more than the “can.” No, just because you have the will doesn’t mean that the way will always work itself out, but focusing too much on logistics early on can kill great ideas before they get developed.

The logistics are a big deal and providing students with a sense that their needs are being considered even though they are performing in a larger group is critical. There are seating charts, teaching kids transitions, making sure there are enough chairs and stands, and figuring out how to move said chairs and stands. Honestly I’ve spent more time in the past two weeks focusing on these issues then the actual music. If students do not have an appropriate space to perform, the music will not matter.

The rehearsals went pretty well this past week. Here are a couple things that helped make these the insane proposition of these mass rehearsal be more successful.

1. Preparation: We’ve been talking to the students about these mass rehearsals for a couple weeks now. I’ve explained how they need to adjust their rehearsal decorum and their playing so that they know how to manage themselves. We talked about how they need to be more independent and that the thing I hate the most about these rehearsals are that we can’t have discussions and I can’t get students feedback.

2. Making the rehearsal meaningful: Before the mass band rehearsal I told the band that we were already proud of them. Now it’s their job to work in a way that makes them proud of themselves and each other. The mass rehearsal was a time to prepare for the performance but more importantly, it was a time to share, explore and connect with each other as musicians and human beings through music.

3. Have fun: Sometimes as music teachers we forget to show our students the joy of music. While it’s necessary to maintain a certain decorum to keep the focus of a large group of students, you need to show the kids how much fun you are having. We need to remind the students that while all of this is hard work, it’s also a lot of fun.

We’ll see how next week goes. Even if the performance doesn’t go perfectly, I’ll feel ok, because I know that my students had a lot of fun getting there.

1 comment:

  1. "Wouldn't it be great to have the band, orchestra, and recorder ensembles from all 5 elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school play a concert all together???" - some idiot from my hometown who hates children and their parents