What is your best advice for concert and contest day preparation? – Readers’ Collaborative Post
In our recent survey, we asked Band Directors Talk Shop readers, “What is your best advice for concert or contest day preparation?” With hundreds of responses to the survey, we came up with this categorized list of your answers. Thanks so much to all of our readers who took time to fill out the survey. Keep an eye out for more Readers’ Collaborative Posts in the future
What is your best advice for concert or contest day preparation?
- Breathe–deeply and often. Make this day an exciting one–pump the kids up and get them excited. There is a difference between excitement and nervousness. Excitement comes from a place of confidence.
- How you and your students do is a consequence of all the prior rehearsals and routines. Stay calm, always. If routine is broken, your calmness will help the students stay focused.
- Don’t stress. I try to feel like a head coach on those days. I don’t do much, if I’m done my job from the beginning, it just runs smoothly. Section leaders/seniors, drum majors handle the majority of things. I just oversee
- Don’t wait until the last few days to freak out, it won’t fix anything, and will only rattle the students. If they need a fire lit under them, make sure it is soon enough to make a difference.
- Don’t show you are nervous to students.
- Have some great jokes to tell to keep the kids relaxed.
- It is what it is – make it fun, set high expectations, but don’t stress the kids out.
- Relax and let the kids play. Cheerlead and catch them doing things really well.
- Things will happen and everyone will be fine. Remember it is very important that the students are calm, having fun and feeling successful.
- To ease nerves, I have the students do a little counting game. You count up to 50 and down from 50 simultaneously. 0, 50, 1, 49, 2, 48, 3,47.
- Keep it simple. Stay focused on doing what you have done on a daily basis. You don’t have to try extra hard. Enjoy the performance.
- Let students know that if something goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world. Mistakes happen, that’s part of the excitement of live music-making. A performance with passion and energy (but a few mistakes) will always be more exciting/rewarding than a flat performance of “perfection.”
- When we’ve finished the warm-up I ask them to silence themselves and just think about being in the “the attitude of performance.” It helps them focus and wards off the jitters.
- Be ready the day before, no final set up or preparation the day of. You can’t control everything so just go with the flow and trust your teaching.
- Make a list of everything you need to bring. (See this suggested list for an emergency kit.)
- Have a check list of all equipment, especially percussion. Have the copies of this list to section leaders, have them take ownership.
- Have them prepared for every aspect in advance.
- Prepare students for EVERY ASPECT of the day/event. I go over what they will wear, report time, and those types of things but also let them know and rehearse things like being nervous in front of an audience, the awkward silence that happens at adjudication, etc. I am a highly anxious person and this has helped me and my students tremendously.
- Plan, go through the concert several times in class.
- Plan ahead, and make sure all judges scores/logistics are organized at least two days in advance. Earlier the better!
- Plan your logistics well in advance and plan EVERYTHING as if you won’t be there.
- Be sure you’ve numbered the measures in your judge’s scores well ahead of time – neatly!
- Practice the performance 2-3 days in advance – lights, entering/exiting, the whole shebang.
- Pre-plan. over-plan, Pre-plan, then take good notes.
- Put a written program on each stand for students.
- Be organized. Think through all of the details well in advance BUT be prepared to be flexible. Make it a positive experience for your kids!!!!
- Have a checklist and multiple copies to delegate responsibilities.
- Have a crew help set up, make a list on the board about what needs to be done so kids can be self sufficient in setting up.
- Invite students and parents to help with setup and takedown.
- Make a list and delegate to section leaders or parent helpers.
Things to Bring
- Have a “go” bag with reeds, tools (mouthpiece puller, etc.) electrical tape, extra music. (see here.)
- Extra music!
- Have a backpack with everything in it. Always fill it up the day before so you don’t forget anything in a panic the day of. Make sure it has paperclips! You never know when the AC is going to blow your front row flute music off the stands in the middle of the concert.
Other Helpful Tips
- Keep things as close to your normal routine as possible.
- Mondays will be bad rehearsals. And usually the rehearsal 2-3 days before the event will also be bad. Kids are scatter brained and the more you accept that, the less frustrated you’ll be with that bad rehearsal.
- Send multiple reminders through different formats.
- Use the rule of three—ask three students, one must be a first chair before you ask the band director.
- Choose music that you know your students will be excited to perform.
- Trust your students.
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