Monthly Archives: September 2014

Selecting an Elementary Musical for December

Anna WentlentBy Anna Wentlent

There are many factors to consider when selecting a December musical or program: music, script, overall length, specific casting requirements, ensemble size, and—probably the most important—subject matter. As we see it, you have five options: Winter, Santa, Multicultural, Traditional, and Sacred.

Winter

To avoid all mention of the holidays, choose a musical about winter. The choice is especially appropriate for the month of December, when everyone is hoping for the first big snow fall (and snow day). An excellent example is Bring On the Snow!, a variety show of songs and sketches for a “snowlarious” winter. Skits include a pair of wisecracking reindeer, a snowflake ballet class, and a directionally-challenged family of geese. Songs include “Blizzard on the Way” and “Hot Chocolate!”

Santa

A Santa musical will appeal to almost every member of your audience by highlighting the secular aspects of the holiday that we all loved as children—Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the rest of the gang at the North Pole. Crazy Christmas is a series of nine Santa-themed songs that can be programmed individually or staged as a complete program using the optional script. Songs include “Santa’s Job Is a Snap” and “The Reindeer Rock.”

Multicultural

A multicultural musical in an inclusive and educational option for December. This choice allows you to acknowledge the “reason for the season” in a broad way with an overview of all of the holidays—Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. The plot of December Nights, December Lights centers on a group of young students who learn about the ways that people celebrate with their families in different cultures. Songs include “Light the Candles (For Eight Nights)” and “La Fiesta de la Posada.”

Traditional

If you teach in a conventional school district in a predominantly Christian community, consider programming a traditional musical that tells the Christmas story with an educational (rather than worshipful) approach. Our Annual Christmas Pageant is a classic story about the frantic final rehearsal and last minute auditions before the annual Christmas pageant. The score is comprised of traditional carols, such as “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings.”

Sacred

For Christian schools and churches, a truly sacred musical is appropriate. Funny yet touching, Miracle at the Christmas Café tells the Christmas story from the perspective of Polly Porkchop at the Christmas Café in Bethlehem. Songs include “Everlasting Light” and “The Hope of All the World.”

As you make your decision, remember that one of the reasons for producing a December musical is the feeling it will bring your students and audience members. What type of musical will leave a smile on their faces as they walk out into the snowy night after your performance? You know your own school or church community. Choose accordingly!

Additional Recommended Musicals for December

Winter:
Freeze Frame!
The Big Chill
Snow Way Out
Stormy, the Singing Snowman

Santa:
Broadway Santa
Santa’s Rockin’ Christmas Eve
Santa’s Stuck in the 50’s
A Christmas Line

Multicultural:
Fiesta! The Legend of the Poinsettia
A World of Christmas
December Gifts

Traditional:
The Christmas Dove & the Woodcutter
The Shiniest Star
A Minibeast Christmas

Sacred:
Noel Critter Motel
The Christmas Cobweb

Building Community Support During the Holidays

Anna WentlentBy Anna Wentlent, Managing Editor of
School Choral and Classroom Publications

Your room is organized, classes have started, and now you’re looking ahead to the first concert of the school year. For most teachers, that concert will be in December, a month of holidays, stress, performances, stress, and PR opportunities! Over the course of the month, you will encounter administrators, other teachers, new students, parents, and community members. Take advantage of this opportunity to showcase your program! Here are a few suggestions for building school and community support during the upcoming holiday season:

  • Invite a community ensemble to participate in your December concert. They could perform in the lobby beforehand, between school groups while the stage set-up is being adjusted, or even in a joint performance with your students.
  • Ask audience members to join in a sing-along at the end of your concert (a Christmas carol, the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, or similar well-known work).
  • Visit a local nursing home to sing carols or perform selections from your upcoming concert.
  • Invite members of the community to speak to your choirs and classes about the holiday traditions of their culture and/or religion.
  • Plan an “impromptu” flash mob performance by your high school jazz, a cappella, or show choir in the hallway or cafeteria.
  • Organize a weekend caroling event (stay at a set location, such as a square or park, or go door-to-door if you’re feeling ambitious). Choose familiar carols in simple arrangements to avoid extra preparation time.
  • Take a few select students to perform at the local elementary school. Many elementary schools have a “morning program”—the perfect opportunity for a short performance of one or two holiday songs.
  • Invite senior citizens to attend your final dress rehearsal for free. Carry the event one step further by following the performance with coffee and cookies in the cafeteria.
  • Stop by a meeting of the booster club, PTO, or school board to wish the members a happy holiday season in song with your small ensemble.
  • Create a concert display or handout that explains the many ways in which a student can be involved in your school music program. Oftentimes, students are unaware of the opportunities available to inexperienced musicians. And even if they are in the know, they may fail to communicate those options to their parents.
  • Ask a student to write and submit an article to local newspapers and blogs about the upcoming December performances at your school.

Have another idea? Share it below in the comments section!