Band Performance Day

What is Band Performance Day?

An opportunity for students to perform:

  • in a positive, non-competitive environment
  • with no criticism
  • at a level that each child can be successful
  • in a setting that encourages leaders to excel

Rules of Performance Day?

  • Everyone plays something
  • Give them about a week’s notice so they have time to prepare and get excited.
  • The student gets to pick what they play. For example – in the method book they can play anything. It can be line 10 or line 100. Whatever they choose.
  • If it’s your last chair player he may choose Twinkle, Twinkle and as long as he plays it well, that’s fine. He may not be successful on what you’re currently playing, but he can at least realize how much better he has gotten since the beginning of the year. He can be successful on Twinkle, Twinkle.
  • If it’s you’re first chair player and they are in lessons they may play part of a solo that their private teacher gave them or a line 5 pages ahead of where you are in class. This will not only give them a chance to “show off” what they are working on, it will inspire others to keep working.
  • I often ask them 1-2 days before what line they are playing. This reminds them that they are supposed to be putting in extra time and effort – not just choosing something at the last minute.
  • Everyone claps after every performance no matter what. Yes, there may be a horrible performance, but everyone will hear that. No one needs to call attention to it. Everyone claps no matter what.

Warning – The only time I would be negative in any way is if a student refuses to play. You need to decide ahead of time if that’s something you’re ok with or not. If your kids are used to playing alone a lot, it shouldn’t be an issue. If it’s uncommon for them to play alone, they may resist. If you’re ok with some not playing, then don’t make ‘everyone playing’ a rule. Don’t set yourself up to be in a tough situation. You want this day to be positive! 

Director Feedback

The director does not say anything negative or positive after any individual performances. After everyone has played I will sometimes give general feedback. But no reaction to individuals. If you give some positive feedback, then the ones that don’t get it feel like you’re being negative to them. Clap the same for everyone.

Examples of general feedback at the end of all performances:

  • “Wow – some people picked really challenging music. I’m glad you were willing to put in that extra time!
  • “Some people chose slightly easier lines, but they sure played it well.  I really enjoyed listening to the performances and that’s the goal, right? So good job picking appropriate music.”
  • “Some of you did really awesome – I can tell you put in a lot of time preparing. But I think some of you just picked a line last night. When we do Performance Days I really want you to put some time into it. We’ll probably have another Performance Day next month. If you didn’t play as well as you would have liked, you’ll have another chance to show us how well you can prepare. I think next time will be much better. Thank you to those of you that really put in the extra effort.”
  • “I really love just listening to you all play. You have improved so much! I love seeing what you choose to play.  I hope you all see how playing an instrument can be so much fun! Performing for an audience is a real gift. Your performance is a gift to everyone in this class.”

The Logistics of Performance Day:

  • Do your normal warm-up/scales etc.
  • You can either just have them play down the row (earlier in the year) or you can make it more involved (later in the year)
    • You can have them stand to play or give them the choice to sit/stand
    • They can introduce themselves and say what they are playing
  • When one student is playing I have everyone else push their stands all the way down and watch the performer. No looking at the music or fingering. They are supposed to just sit back and enjoy the performances. Focus on the music being performed.

Why Band Performance Day is Awesome:

  • If you are able to do performance day once a month, kids start to get excited that it’s coming.
  • Students learn that it really is positive, you’re not going to give them criticism and that it’s fun!
  • They learn it’s ok if some students choose an easy line as long as they play it well.
  • Students learn that it is rewarding to pick a challenging line and play it well.
  • It encourages kids to work ahead (especially if they are in private lessons or come in for extra help)
  • They learn that performing for just for enjoyment is possible!
  • They realize that it’s not about winning or getting a higher chair – it’s about playing a song they love for others who appreciate their hard work.
  • Kids learn how to support each other and appreciate other student’s performances.
  • They become more comfortable performing alone and build confidence as they enter into competitive performance situations like all-region band auditions or solo/ensemble.

My favorite benefit to Performance Day is the way it encourages the most advanced players to work ahead and be leaders. If you do this every 4-6 weeks for a year, kids will start learning new, harder songs just to play at Performance Day. It can really help leaders develop and shine in your classes.

Related Reading:
What is Band Directors’ Workshop?
Teaching Snare Drum Day 1
Lines and Spaces Chant – Quick Tip

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