/, Cultivating Choir Culture, Holiday & Caroling/The Final 8 (Last Minute) Things to Avoid To Ensure a Smooth Concert

The Final 8 (Last Minute) Things to Avoid To Ensure a Smooth Concert

If you didn’t read my previous article, please click here and read it first. There are 17 things to avoid to ensure a smooth concert. My last article gave #17 through #9 and this article concludes with the final 8!

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, all 17 things are frequently overlooked and as a result, end up impacting the experience that our audience members have.  These final 8 things will instantly improve the flow of a concert.

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After months of great rehearsing, here are the remaining…….

Here are the 8 Final (Last Minute) Things to Ensure a Smooth Concert:

8) Throwing out the “first pitch” in a sloppy manner

All students should be able to find their opening pitch from one given note. If well-trained, groups may not even need a starting pitch. Do not allow students to hum the pitch. The time it takes to find a pitch should be virtually instant. If the pitch is needed, it should be given once, followed by silence.  This allows for anticipation from the audience, and focus from the ensemble.


7) Unintended, unprofessional behavior from performers in between songs

We may be transitioning from song to song but the audience is still there watching us. This is not a Broadway Musical where the curtain come down between scenes. How we look in between songs is part of our performance.

6) Wasting time and awkward transitions when instruments/props are brought on/leave the stage

Any changes to the set-up that occurs in front of an audience needs to be rehearsed. This also includes tuning of instruments. Don’t waste the audience’s time, and don’t distract them from a free-flowing concert.

Alternative Concert Assignment – for students who miss the concert

5) Soloists missing their microphone cues

When solos are in the middle of a song, practice the exact moment that a soloist leaves the ensemble and the moment when they return to the choir. If the soloist begins the piece, it is important to figure out how they can be featured in an empowering visual effect. They should be able to walk out with confidence and start immediately. Don’t forget practicing how students return to the choir as well.

Post Concert Self-Assessment – have students self-assess personal performance AND the entire group

4) Not preparing appropriately for all necessary lighting cues

If we have any semblance of lights, we should utilize them with prepared cues. We are putting on a show. Simple cues can be immensely effective at setting a mood and maintaining audience interest. Turning on holiday lights for a concluding piece, or creating a slightly different lighting effect for a song can make a difference in the audience’s ability to connect to our performance. All cues need to be rehearsed.

Holiday Caroling Packet – for Christmas and Hanukkah!

3) Forgetting to properly recognize the appropriate students

If we choose to recognize student accomplishments, we must be organized and keep it quick. When we recognize All-County students, All-State students, student leaders, seniors, we must be succinct and remain on task. Prepared note cards will keep it moving. Have the audience applaud AFTER all names are said, and speak into the microphone.


2) Rambling to the audience with an unprepared and disjointed “thank you” speech

Thank everyone in one brief speech. Keeping it concise is important. If we are well-prepared, we will not leave people off of our list or ramble (custodial staff, administration, colleagues, parent organization, etc). Who are we thanking and why?…….it’s that simple!

Dreidel (SATB); Caroling Version – available as performed below or shortened to accommodate caroling

AND THE #1 Thing to Avoid

1) Overlooking the perspective of the typical audience member 

While it is not our primary job to “entertain” our audiences, our audience members are attending our concert, expecting to be entertained. It is important to recognize our audience members who have given up their night to witness our students, their children, perform for them. Understand what they are seeing from beginning to end. Know that they will most likely be unaware of wrong notes and wrong rhythms. When we hit concert season we must look at the big picture and understand the details of what a parent can see and hear. While we all want our choirs to sound perfect, it is far more important to have a well-planned, fast-flowing, visually stimulating, and engaging performance.

Happy concert season!


By | 2018-12-02T08:54:53-05:00 December 10th, 2017|Concert Season, Cultivating Choir Culture, Holiday & Caroling|

About the Author:

Adam Paltrowitz is a master educator, composer, conductor, and clinician. During his 21-year tenure as the Director of Choral Activities at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in New York, his groups have toured throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. He also has pioneered a philosophy that every student is a soloist. Adam's choral program has also gained great acclaim for the cultivation of eight student-run a-cappella ensembles; some of these ensembles have performed on national and local television programs. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by choirs around the world. Adam earned his B.S. in music education from New York University, M.A. in vocal pedagogy from Columbia University - Teacher's College, and Ed.M. choral conducting from Columbia University - Teacher's College. ​Adam resides in Manhattan with his wife, Blair Goldberg, a professional Broadway actress, and their daughter, Lyla, and son, Nolan.


  1. Sharri December 12, 2017 at 6:15 am - Reply

    Thank you! This was very helpful. Most of what you listed is what I’m practicing! Yay me! It’s gives me confirmation knowing that my concert etiquette is just as important as my students concert etiquette.

    • Admin December 12, 2017 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      You are quite welcome!

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