I have to hold my school music concerts off campus at a nearby high school or middle school. When our elementary school was built it wasn’t made for the high volume that we now have. The building was originally made for 200ish students or less, but with our construction a few years ago we’re now at about 500+ and of course with the physical addition to the building they didn’t upgrade the gym, stage, or performance area. So that means that to have any sort of concert I have to hold it off campus at the closest place that can hold all of our kids/parents. There are pros and cons to this. I really can’t do any scenery or big props or crazy staging (this is a pro and a con :D). It also means that kids don’t actually get to practice in the space because we can’t go and visit until the night of the show. More than anything, it means that I have to really plan ahead so that I take everything I need from my school and have all the supplies that might be needed on hand. I came up with a “concert checklist” to keep myself on track and make sure that I’m covering all my bases. You can download that free checklist on the Downloads page of this website.
One of the things about having a concert off campus is that it’s much harder to get kids to actually show up to the concert. I have to plan ways to get the message out to parents that this concert will not be at our school and that they should plan on attending at the new location. Remember also that my students come from pretty poor families and so many of our parents work nights. Some families have only one car and if one parent is off working that night that means that my kid might have their other parent home but are stranded without a car. I have to be sure to tell kids and parents far in advance so that they can plan to take off work, to play for transportation, to plan to go to another place and not our school, to think about what they should wear, etc. Here are some of the things that I do to help get the word out about upcoming concerts.
Notes Home. Send lots of them.
Print the note on colorful paper (bright and noticeable!). I get those “Astrobrights” colors from OfficeMax so that my note doesn’t just go home on white paper (those white notes will easily get lost). Even the normal pastel-colored papers that you can sometimes get from your district are good, but I love to go with the extra bright stuff.
If you’re at an ELL school you must must MUST get the note translated. I usually do one side English and one side Spanish and limit myself to a half sheet of paper. This works out really well and communicates the important information while still saving paper. Keep in mind at an ELL school that if there’s some sort of wordplay in the name… my translator has told me more than once that wordplay doesn’t translate well. “Bear-y Merry Holiday” turns into “Festival of the Bears” and “Holiday Moosical” loses it’s ring when it becomes “Musical Party for the Moose.”
Send home two notes! I send one note out a month away from the concert and then send another a week before the concert. The month away note is a “save the date” sort of note and tells a little about what will be happening. It also tells parents what I want kids to wear so they can start looking. For the older grades this one asks parents to help with memorizing lines if the older kids have lines. The "it's next week!" note reminds parents of the specific time kids need to be at the school, what exactly they need to wear, directions to the location, and the phone number of our office in case they want to talk to someone and get directions.
Upcoming Attractions Bulletin Board
On the board, make sure you include the date of the concert, the time of the concert, location of the concert, and what grades are involved. I also like to do a “countdown” that I change every day. This makes kids see that the concert is coming ever closer and gets them really excited when they see the numbers hit single digits. My principal always gives me crud about how many ways that I remind kids. “How many days, Mr. Row?” She asks with a wry smile. She usually asks that when I post signs all over the board saying “Tonight! Tonight! Tonight!” Hey, if it helps them remember then I’m happy.
I then changed the posters the alien was holding and took the whole thing to our concert. He ended up saying "I survived an Alien Invasion" and parents and kids could take photos with it before/after the concert. It was pretty hilarious to see people taking their photo as the alien. They liked it for sure, but who doesn't like a crazy photo op moment!
Love Bugs – K & 1st 2014
O, O, Overboard – K & 1st 2013
Space Invaders– 2nd & 3rd 2013
Bear-y Merry Holiday – 2nd & 3rd 2012
Holiday Moosical– 2nd & 3rd 2011
December Round the World – 4th and 5th 2013