Promoting Your School Performance or Concert
The stage is set, students prepared, lines learned, costumes hemmed, sound system set up, programs printed, and clock is ticking. Now everyone just has to show up! With all the hard work that you do to make the concert great, you want to make sure that everyone knows about the upcoming program and makes it a priority to attend! But how should you promote your performance?
This post is about prepping for a concert and some different ways to communicate with parents and the community. Families are pulled in every direction with after-school sports, evening jobs, multiple kids, and more. You want to make it easy for them to remember the upcoming concert and really look forward to the event. In this blog I’ll talk about sending effective notes home, signage and posters you might consider making for your event, and a few other little tips and tricks to promote your upcoming school performance.
Off-Campus Concerts – My Situation
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 The building was originally made for 200ish students or less, but we added on to the building a few years ago we’re now at about 500+. The physical addition to our school campus added classrooms and a bigger media center but 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 having your concert off-campus. I really can’t do any scenery or big props or crazy staging (this is a pro and a con) since I can’t get into the space until the day of the performances. It also means that kids don’t actually get to practice in the space before the concert because we can’t go and visit until the night of the show. More than anything, having the concert in a different venue 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. Check out this blog post for my concert checklist and a few more ideas about what you might want to do as you prepare for a performance.
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. 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 plan 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.
Send Notes Home – Tips and Tricks
If you’re at a school with a high population of English Language Learners (ELL) 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. Also, be thoughtful about what you’re trying to tell parents. My school 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.” You can’t always control the name of the concert but you can control all of the other information you include.
Add some pictures/clip art to dress it up. Adding images behind the words or next to the words. You can do this in Microsoft Word and then make the image “partially transparent” to make it look like stationary or a watermark. To do this, there should be a “transparency” slider under the “format image” toolbar (check the picture to enlarge and see detail about this). Or if you don’t want to mess with that transparency stuff, you can add the images next to the words or include a fun border to make your note stand out from a typical note home.
Send home two notes! I send one note home to parents 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.
Send Students with Stickers!
A couple of years for my K & 1st program I printed out stickers on return address labels and gave a sheet to each teacher in Kindergarten and 1st grade. I saw the people from LifeTouch (the company that does our school pictures and yearbook) do this same thing the day before “Picture Day” and I thought it was a great idea, especially for the younger kids.
The only downside to this idea is that it takes a lot of time to make the stickers and then each classroom teacher has to “stick” the kids before they leave. If a classroom teacher forgets then you’ve spent all that time for nothing. I tried it a couple times and it worked pretty well, but it does take some investment of time and planning.
Bulletin Boards to Promote “Upcoming Attractions”
What to Include: On the board, make sure you include the date of the concert, the time of the concert, location of the concert (if it’s off-campus), and what grades are involved. Then fill in and decorate with whatever you think fits! I love to use elements from the concert’s theme so snowflakes for winter, planets for a space them, bugs for a Spring concert and so on.
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 jokes with me 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.
Photo Opportunity as Concert Reminder
This year I did a “face cut-out” photo op for kids to help them to remember the concert. It was really fun and I was able to put it out next to the 2nd and 3rd grade rooms during a parent teacher conference day. Students and parents would come by for their conference and then would stop to take a picture. My hope was that this little picture would help kiddos to remember that their concert was happening soon!
For the photo op during parent teacher conference the little alien man held a sign saying the location and date of the concert. I then changed the posters the alien was holding and took the whole thing to our concert so that it could also be a photo op on the night of the 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!
Click here to learn more about the process and how I made it work!
Here are links to a couple of the “Upcoming Attractions” boards I’ve done in the past to give you some ideas.
Yard Signs at the Drop Off/Pick Up
A few years ago I used VistaPrint (an online print service) to make up a few yard signs that look a bit like the signs you’d see politicians giving out during election season. Every year on a program week I get up a little earlier to go to school and stick them in the grass next to the “drop-off/pick-up” lane so that parents see them as they drop off kiddos each morning.
These signs work well to remind kids and parents and are one side English/one side Spanish so that they’re easy to see and read. Every time I start putting these out my secretary jokes “Are we selling the school? Is that a realtor sign?” or “Which political candidate are you backing this time?” Speaking of that, if you make signs like this on VistaPrint the sign itself is pretty cheap but the metal holder to stick it in the ground comes separate and is $5+ a pop. Ask around for old yard signs after an election to see if you can get the metal part of the sign for free! Then if you get the stand you’d only have to make your sign to put on the stand.
One Last Thing – Signs at the event space
Because our concert is off-campus at the local high school or middle school I try and put up signage when I get to our event space so that parents know where to go when they get to the new place.
For instance, I had this banner sign made (to match the VistaPrint yard signs) so that parents knew that while they were technically at Argentine Middle School that they were at the right place for the Frances Willard Elementary Music Concert. This hung outside the main auditorium on the night of the show. It’s a little touch, but it helps.
These are just a couple of my little tricks to keep kids and parents excited. What do you do to prepare for the concert? Leave a comment below to share some of your wonderful tips. I’m always looking for more ideas to help get as many kids as possible to the show!
If you want to see more of my ideas for concerts (before, after, and during the concert) then click the “concerts” tag below or in the sidebar to see everything I’ve written about school performances!