What to Do AFTER the Concert: A Follow-Up Guide
I think that we can all relate to the “sigh of relief” that comes with finishing up a big concert with students. You no longer have to worry if those 20 kids are going to show up to say all of their lines, if the parent volunteers will finish the set on time, if your technology and speakers will work, if anyone will pick their nose or push another kid or fall off the risers in the middle of the show. There are so many things that you can stress about when planning for a concert. It’s a great feeling when it’s done and you can finally relax, put your feet up, and enjoy a nice beverage of your choice.
After the final bow and the music stops, it’s natural to want to just MOVE ON and be done! However, I would suggest that there are a few things that you can do to really make your performance great and memorable for students, parents, administrators, and yourself. Here are five quick and easy ideas to help you as you wrap up and move along to something new.
#1 – Concert Evaluation for Kids
It’s always a good idea to take a class period and help students think through and evaluate their performance. We spend so much time rehearsing and learning and not nearly as much time reflecting or thinking about past performances. When I first started teaching I loved the idea of concert evaluations… but I had no clear plan of how to work evaluations in and what to do with students that was developmentally appropriate and would still keep their attention. Here are a couple ideas that can help increase students understanding without creating a lot of work for you.1) Use the video. If you record your concert, then plan to show that video to students the following day. This makes things REALLY easy for you in a way because the day after the concert your lesson plans can be to show the show. But, instead of just watching the concert the whole way through, stop and talk briefly after each song. Ask what went well. Ask them to think critically about what could have been improved. You can even give students some prompts before you watch and write some ideas on the board to keep them focused as listeners. Are all students singing? Did we do the actions all together? Can you hear all the parts (if there are harmonies). Do you understand the words that everyone is singing? Etc. Try to avoid calling out specific students and instead to think more generally about what we (as a group) can do better.
2) Use a concert evaluation worksheet. I loved the idea of having students sit down to think critically about their performance, but I definitely didn’t know how to focus that writing/reflection. I was especially confused about how to help younger/pre-literate students with this reflection process. What do you do with kindergarten to help them write about their performance… if they aren’t even writing sentences in class?
I was talking about this issue with my friend Cori Bloom, and she showed me the reflection sheets that she uses. For K-3 she uses several worksheets (depending on the class) with quite a few pictures and icons. This gives kids a chance to reflect and think about the performance and not worry about reading/writing words as much. For older grades she uses some writing reflection worksheets but also gives kids a chance to rate their performance using a numbered scale. Check out some images below or click here to learn more. Cori’s stuff is amazing!
#2 – Write Thank You Cards
After a performance I always make sure to write thank you notes to all the people who helped me pull off the concert. There are a ton of people who help you with costumes, rehearsing lines with kids, sending out communication to parents, setting out chairs, and lots more. A quick hand-written note really means a lot to folks! Here’s a very general example of what I might write to a homeroom teacher.Thank you so much for helping out with the second grader’s “Big Chill” concert this week! I really appreciate all the ways that you went out of your way to make this concert great! I know it’s a pain to change the normal class schedule to make concert practices happen and take time out of the day to run through lines with kids. I’m sure you’ve also been fielding questions from parents and kiddos this whole last month. There are so many things that you do to support the kids and support our music program here. Thanks for all the many things you do!
I write some of these thank you letters in advance of the concert so that after the concert I can relax a little and focus on other things. I buy greeting cards/thank you cards during end of season sales. You can pick up some generic thank you cards pretty cheap if you look for them at the end of graduation season or at the end of summer/wedding season. You can also buy some really fun, themed thank you cards in the post-Christmas sales. Stow them away and use them after your Christmas concert NEXT year!Another fun detail: I always buy those nice Dove brand chocolates and use tape to secure them on as the “stamp” on the letter. Teachers love the hand-written note and they really love the chocolate.
Here’s a list of who you might consider writing a thank you to: principal and other admin, homeroom teachers for the kids who performed, specials teachers (art, P.E., library), secretaries and office staff (they field a lot of phone calls for you!), custodians (putting out chairs, cleaning up after the show), anyone who took pictures for you during the show, any parent volunteers, paraprofessionals who helped out, etc.
#3 – Rethink and Replan for the Future
After a concert I take one day after school to go through everything that worked and everything that I would like to change. I leave myself notes for the future in case I end up doing this show again. Let’s face it, if you do this show again in 8 or 9 years, you won’t probably remember the fun little details that made your performance really great. Write it down to remember it later.For instance, I would write down something like this. With one concert I scrapped all the scripted lines. The homeroom teachers said that they were doing a project inspired by our concert and were having students write essays that went along with the subject matter of our concert. So, instead of doing the scripted lines in the book I had several students come up and read their essays to the audience while I projected the pictures they had drawn to go along with their essay. I make sure to leave myself notes about these little details because I know that if I do the show again in the future I don’t want to have to recreate the wheel!
I also spend a few minutes writing out all the ideas that I had and wasn’t able to complete this time. Maybe there’s a great idea you had for a really phenomenal costume but weren’t able to create. Maybe you had a new idea of prop to incorporate. One time I had a parent come up to me after the show and offer to come and print all the program for me ahead of time. You had better believe I wrote that person’s name down and took their contact information. Write yourself helpful notes that you’ll use again in the future!
#4 – Gather and Put Things Away in a Safe Place
I make sure to gather up all the “important stuff” and put it away in a safe place. I take the time to go through my notebook and write down all the songs/actions that we used so that I don’t have to come up with new things the next time. I also write in little notes about staging and things that I might have changed. I make sure to put accompaniment CDs in a safe place where they will not get lost and I burn a CD of any extra music that goes with the show. If I’ve recorded the show, I usually put a copy of that in this big bundle as well so that I can reference what I’ve done before.
I also pull together all the notes that I sent home and other things that were printed. I usually save a copy to my comptuer and burn to a CD as well so that I have digital copies if needed. I make sure to keep copies of the program that I print and also the notes that I’ve sent home so that I can reuse the formatting and wording that I used should I ever perform this concert again.
Pack up props and pull together special decorations that you use and put them in a safe place! If there are any extra books/CDs that you use, either leave a note about where they are or bundle them all togehter. Save yourself stress later and just keep it all together now!
#5 – Parent Contact and Follow-Up
This is something I’ve started doing more recently and it has really been a wonderful addition to my concert checklist. I email parents after the concert to thank them for coming and also reiterate how well I think the concert went. I talk a little about how proud I am of the students and the great work that they’ve done. This time I asked parents to send me an email with any photos they took during the concert. I made a quick little “show review” bulletin board where I had the names of the songs and pictures of kids singing. It really made them feel like superstars and was a fun way to remember the concert.Contacting the parents after the concert is a great way to make good publicity for your program. Remind them how great their students were and slip in a little about how the students learned. In my last email to parents I said something like, “Often students get a little too excited on concert night and forget some things but your children were amazing. They were singing harmonies, performing part songs, remembered the actions, and were amazing listeners. What great work!”