//What NOT to do IN CLASS the day AFTER the concert….

What NOT to do IN CLASS the day AFTER the concert….

When it comes to rehearsals immediately following a concert, there are two things that irritate me beyond belief:

  1. When teachers give their students a free period or a period to do nothing, as everyone sits on their cell phones.
  2. When teachers put on a video or audio recording of the previous night’s performance, as everyone sits on their cell phones.

These two things are essentially the same thing. When students watch or listen to a recording of themselves from the previous evening, they are mainly disengaged.

Your students are not too tired to participate. They don’t deserve a break.

The day after any concert has the potential to be a truly inspiring rehearsal. It can be one that is memorable, productive, reflective, unifying and motivating.

A successful post-concert rehearsal takes VERY LITTLE PHYSICAL EFFORT on our part or the part of our singers. We do not need to prepare any elaborate lesson plan, nor do we need to exhaust our singers.

There are two parts to my lesson plan for a successful post-concert rehearsal and they occur in the order listed below:

  1. Give a post-concert self-assessment
  2. Facilitate an effective group discussion

1. Post-Concert Self-Assessment

A post-concert self-assessment can evaluate both a student’s performance and the group’s collective performance for the entire evening. This is an assessment on all aspects of the evening from punctuality and proper attire to engagement during their actual performance. While it is most effective to prepare our singers with the post-concert self-assessment both before and after the concert, there is still plenty of value in just handing it out afterwards.

If you are interested, I offer a copy of my post-concert self-assessment. I’ve listed below all of the specific things that my self-assessment addresses.

Here are the things that are on my post-concert self-assessment:

INDIVIDUAL EVALUATION
I was on time to the concert (arrived before the call time)
I was fully prepared and dressed appropriately
I was focused from the very start of the warm-up
I demonstrated proper body alignment/posture throughout the performance
I acted appropriately between songs during the performance
I demonstrated consistent eye contact throughout the entire performance
I conveyed a positive attitude on stage
ENSEMBLE EVALUATION
Ensemble entered the risers/stage professionally
Ensemble exited the risers/stage professionally
Ensemble was focused throughout the entire performance
Ensemble remained professional in between performing each song
Ensemble sang with tall, refined vowels
Ensemble sang with great usage of dynamics 
Ensemble sang with emotion/connection to the music
Ensemble conveyed a positive attitude on stage
Ensemble was respectful and professional when not performing

After the students have properly evaluated their individual and collective efforts at the concert, they are now ready to have a group discussion.

Post-Concert Discussion

A post-concert discussion is essential to building a strong choir community. It offers all students the opportunity to express their views and feelings about their experience in our program. While the discussion is mainly focused on the concert, it is also directly related to how they rehearsed, the chosen repertoire, their level of preparation, etc.

The discussion should have 3 distinct parts:

  1. The WINS
  2. Constructive Criticism
  3. Improvements for the next concert

By separating the discussion into three separate topics, students can dig deeper, be specific, and build upon each others’ responses. This specific order allows students to recognize the positives before being critical; this is an immensely important life-skill.

THE WINS

The wins are any aspect of the concert or preparation that they believe was successful. It could be directly or indirectly related to the actual performance. Here are some examples of varied types of WINS:

  1. everyone showed up on time to the rehearsal
  2. we started right on time
  3. we sang a really interesting and diverse program
  4. we loved singing the closing number
  5. we felt a strong connection to one another on stage
  6. there were lots of laughs from the crowd during a comical piece
  7. it was the best we ever sounded on a specific piece
  8. we filed onto the risers in a professional manner
  9. that one piece was especially powerful

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – What Could’ve Been Better?

Sometimes it’s hard to hear constructive criticism when it is related to our teaching choices, but we need to learn to allow our students to speak without getting defensive. We must encourage students to communicate the things that they believe could have been better. Should we disagree with their assessment, we can respond another day.

It is our job to ensure students articulate appropriate feedback instead of just saying they didn’t like something or that something was bad.

Here are some examples of constructive criticism:

  1. the concert felt too long
  2. my mom said she didn’t like all the slow songs
  3. we weren’t focused on stage
  4. we sang through a cut-off in a specific song
  5. we didn’t sing a specific song as well as we had in rehearsal
  6. we had too many songs that weren’t in English
  7. the audience seemed disengaged and on their phones
  8. it was super hot on the risers, I nearly passed out
  9. I don’t feel like the audience really understood the meaning of a piece

IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE NEXT CONCERT

This is where we synthesize our wins and constructive feedback in an effort to improve future rehearsals and concerts. Here are some examples of improvements for the next concert:

  1. we should include a pop or Broadway song
  2. we should engage the audience with a sing-a-long
  3. we should have a song in another language
  4. we should have a men’s-only piece
  5. we should practice our processional a lot more
  6. we need to practice our alumni piece with the alumni prior to the concert
  7. we should know the order of our concert program better
  8. we should train our audience to behave better

We are the Facilitator

Facilitating a discussion means we do not share our opinions. We help students express their opinions, and we encourage them to dig deeper than “I liked” or “I didn’t like” something.

One suggestion in facilitating the discussion is addressing the different areas of the experience that students should be thinking about. It’s up to them to decide the wins or offer constructive criticism. This is where filling out the self-assessment first becomes a reflective exercise and prepares them to formulate deeper thoughts.

Perhaps it may be a good idea to have a list of different topics on the board; they do not all need to be addressed in the discussion and students may have additional ones to add. Here are some ideas:

  • dress rehearsal
  • behavior when not singing
  • focus on stage vs. focus in our rehearsals leading up to the concert
  • choice of repertoire
  • audience response
  • highlights of the concert
  • getting on/off risers
  • overall performance of our ensemble/specific pieces

What we hope to accomplish

Being collectively positive, collectively constructive, and then collectively looking ahead toward the next concert is something that ignites a choir. Their individual words become a collective inspiration that everyone can draw upon for the next concert. When we choose to “drill” something more than usual, we can bring it back to the post-concert discussion. When we add a “Broadway” piece, your singers know they were heard.

This conversation builds trust, connection, respect, and understanding.

By | 2019-12-11T05:58:34-05:00 December 10th, 2019|Concert Season|

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.

One Comment

  1. sponzani December 10, 2019 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the post, Adam!

Leave A Comment