Pulling off a Spring Concert From Start to Finish in Four Weeks

After CPA, it was time to start fresh music. I knew I wanted fun repertoire that the kids would really enjoy  after being “serious” for the last three months. I also had to remember that during my four week time frame, I would have multiple days of class lost to standardized testing (groan.)

Here are some strategies I used to maintain my sanity. Don't forget to scroll all the way to the bottom and see the full performance!

We did a presentation with Art Club for our Superintendent, who is retiring this year, at our dress rehearsal. Notice my awkward photo-bombing skills on the right side. Hot tip: invite your Superintendent to dress rehearsals...the kids will be REALLY well-behaved!

Choose Wisely

With only four weeks of prep, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you can really accomplish. Given more time, my students could definitely pull off more challenging repertoire, but that’s not what this performance was about.

Here was my concert order:

7/8th Grade Combined Chorus

Phantom of the Opera………………….. ……Andrew Lloyd Webber

                                                        Arr,.Ed Lojeski

 

Try……….......…………………………...as performed by Colbie Callait

Kennedy Vaughn, Soloist

 

7th Grade Chorus

It’s a Hard-Knock Life…….....…………………….….arr. Sarah Zegree

Kelsey Taylor, Zion Hughes, Bailey Johnson, Michael Eddy

Soloists

 

Pompeii………….......…………………………..as performed by Bastille

Kasey Lewis, Soloist

 

Men’s Chorus

I’ll Make a Man Out of You………………...…….arr. Roger Emerson

featuring “Mulans”

 

La Vie En Rose……….....…….….as performed by Daniela Andrade

Katelyn Amick, Soloist

8th Grade Chorus

 

How Far I’ll Go……................…………………………...Lin Manuel-Miranda

Kasey Lewis, Soloist

 

 

Rise Up…………...........………………………….as performed by Andra Day

Bailey Johnson, Soloist

 

 

Women’s Chorus

Audition ( The Fools Who Dream)…………………...……..arr. Andy Beck

Alina Svistunov, Soloist

 

 

7/8th Grade Combined Chorus

 

Country Roads, Take Me Home………..….as performed by John Denver

Clarissa Farr, Evalee Dill , Zion Hughes, Kinsey Bitz, Jayce Walker

Soloists

 

Seasons of Love……………………….............…….………...arr. Roger Emerson

Quinshawn Fernanders, Madison Kelly, Bailey Johnson,

Kasey Lewis

Soloists

Don't Be Afraid to Modify/Simplify

There. I said it.

 

I wouldn’t advise this in a million years if you asked “can I cut this section out of this piece,” if you were performing at some fancy-schmancy competition. But for an end of the year spring concert? Do what works.

 

Some modifications I made:

 

Phantom of the Opera

  1. This arrangement of Phantom of the Opera is written as SATB. I divided the song by grade, so 7th graders sang “The Phantom,” a.k.a the Tenor and Bass part in their coordinating octaves, and 8th graders sand “Christine,” a.k.a the Soprano and Alto part in their coordinating octaves.

  2. I added on to the “ah” section at the end of the arrangement. Holding “ah” on one pitch for 8 beats got boring pretty fast, so I taught them something similar to the vocalize Christine’s character actually sings in the play.

It’s a Hard-Knock Life

  1. I took out several areas that were written as two or three parts, and the kids just sang it all unison. It’s easy to get away with because most audiences identify with the melody anyway.

  2. The middle section became a set of solos. Taking a section and splitting it up into solos really shortens the amount the group has to learn. It’s my way of dividing and conquering.

I’ll Make a Man out of You

  1. I beefed up Men’s Chorus by adding “Mulans.” I needed more sound for the Tenor line, and given the subject of the piece, it was a great reason to get some fabulous ladies to help out my dudes.

How Far I’ll Go

  1. This was a two-part arrangement, which I originally purchased for my 6th graders. It multi-tasked great with 8th grade, and the range was in that sweet spot so that my Tenors could sing the Soprano line down the octave, and my Basses could sing the alto down the octave.

Audition

  1. If I had more time, this arrangement was written BEAUTIFULLY for SSA. But I didn’t, so I cut the entire alto line out for our performance, and made it two parts. I also made a few sections unison to give more emphasis to what was happening in the text.

 

Seasons of Love

  1. Again, turning sections into solo features totally worked great in this piece.

Make a Master Plan

Sorry about the not-so-glamorous picture. My notebook had a mishap involving a coffee cup a few weeks back.

I started out by analyzing all of the pieces for the concert, and listing everything by sections. You can see that list in the picture above. Then, I created a schedule:

 

Week 1: Learn notes/rhythms

Week 2: Solidify notes/rhythms. Memorize

Week 3: Solidify memory. Clean where needed.

Week 4: Clean where needed. (Deal with missing multiple days from testing)

 

I was pretty proud of my master plan. It worked fairly well, and I was able to stick to my timeline.

Feature Soloists

If you don’t want to overload your students with repertoire, but you still feel like you need something else to fill out your concert program, have solo auditions and just let the kids do their thing! This is something I do at every performance, not just this particular one. It’s so much fun to feature student soloists, and it’s a really great option for transitions on and off stage.

You can see the soloists in the video of the performance. I just have them sing in front of the closed curtain in between numbers.

Try not to stress, it's a FUN concert!

Whenever I started to get worried about our looming deadline, simply reminding myself that I wanted this concert to be fun for the kids after all of their hard work made things a lot easier for me. Was it perfect? Nope. But I think the majority of the students and their families enjoyed the end result.

Check out the full video of our 7/8th grade Spring Concert below! Nothing is edited, so everything you're seeing is 100% how everything really went. 

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