By Anna Wentlent
School has begun! 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 choir, band, or class about the holiday traditions of their culture and/or religion.
- Plan an “impromptu” flash mob performance by your high school jazz, a cappella, show choir, or band 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, PTA, 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 performances at your school.
Have another idea? Share it below in the comments section!
Anna Wentlent is an educator, music editor, author, and piano accompanist. She attended the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, York St. John College, and Boston University. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a choral and classroom music editor for Alfred Music and taught choral and general music in both New York and Massachusetts.