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. Many of us frequently overlook these 17 things and as a result, end up impacting the experience for our audience members.  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

We need to rehearse any changes to the set-up that will occur in front of our audience. 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. We must rehearsal every cue that we use.

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. We must speak directly into the microphone and ask your audience to applaud AFTER all names are said, and speak into the microphone. Also, be sure not to turn away from the microphone while speaking; I have seen many conductors turn toward the person the wanted to acknowledge and as a result, the ending of what they were saying would be inaudible.


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

Thank everyone in one brief speech. Keeping it concise is important. Make a list of who we are thanking and why (custodial staff, administration, colleagues, parent organization, etc). It’s okay to briefly improvise but the clarity of who and what will be at the forefront of what you are saying. 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!