17 (Last Minute) Things to Avoid – to Ensure a Smooth Concert!
We’ve just spent many months learning notes and rhythms, memorizing lyrics, working on balance and blend, shape, and internalizing meaning. But now it is concert season and our priority needs to shift from how our ensemble sounds to what our audience sees and hears.
Believe it or not, most of what the audience members see and hear have nothing to do with how well our ensemble sings. Regardless of how talented and well-prepared our ensembles are, these 17 things are frequently overlooked and as a result, end up impacting the experience that our audience members have.
After months of great rehearsing……
Here are the 17 (Last Minute) Things to Avoid – to Ensure a Smooth Concert!
17) Performer’s sloppy concert attire
Have all choir members bring or even wear exactly what they are intending to wear for the concert several days in advance. A real dress rehearsal is a great idea. Even if your choir wears uniforms, there’s always something “extra” some performers may try to get away with.
16) Performers entering the risers in an unprofessional manner
Don’t just expect this to happen correctly at the concert. It is an important part of the flow from the lens of an audience member. We cannot expect students to know what to do because we told them in class. These things need to be rehearsed over and over again until it looks smooth and fluid. Where do they stand in terms of formation? Do they stand with set windows? Do they know exactly where they stand in correlation to the physical riser? What speed do they get on the risers? How do they walk up to the top row? What do they do when they get to their place?
Alternative Concert Assignment – for students who missed the concert
15) Performers leaving the risers in an unprofessional manner
Have we practiced a specific cue to start the process? What speed do they leave? What is the order of rows that leave? Where do they go once they vacate the risers?
14) A malfunctioning microphone
Microphones need to be tested. If it is wireless, new batteries must be put in before each show. Just because it worked 30 minutes before the show doesn’t mean the battery isn’t running low. While we are at it, let’s have some extra batteries.
13) Speaking to our audience without using a microphone
Every time we speak to an audience, we must use that microphone. Do not assume the audience can hear us, and do not ASK them if they can hear us as we shout at them without a mic. Use the mic!
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12) An audience that has not been informed about proper concert behavior and etiquette
The most important aspect about the opening of the concert is explaining to audience members when they can talk, when they can enter/leave the auditorium, if/when they can take flash photos, how and when they can respond to our ensembles. It also helps if we give a brief overview of the length and vision of the performance.
Dreidel (SATB); – available as performed below or shortened to accommodate caroling
11) Assuming our audiences have the tools to understand and appreciate our program
It is our job to set our audience members up to be able to appreciate our concert. We can list details about the piece in our program, but setting up a potentially comical piece, preparing a piece that’s a musical “stretch” for the ensemble, or diffusing the potential religious perception of a piece by explaining its rationale within the program, are all examples of times when speaking could be important.
10) Assuming our choir knows how to acknowledge the audience after each song
Does the ensemble perform a cued group bow, or do we bow by ourselves in front of the ensemble? Do we walk to the side of the group? How do we visually acknowledge our accompanist, instrumentalists, and soloists? Develop a routine and teach it.
9) Poor, lengthy transitions between songs and sets
Students need to envision their change in body language, texture, emotion, as well as the opening cue for each piece. This is something that must be practiced several times before a concert. This will eliminate downtime for the audience between pieces, create an authenticity to each selection, and ensure our programming itself is fluid.