The Holidays are a busy time of the year for music educators because of winter concerts and beginning preparation for spring concerts. While getting your students and the music ready is the most important part in the concert process there are many behind the scene organizational tasks that you can’t learn by reading a book during your undergraduate career. Below are some of the skills required of music teachers to successfully prepare for concerts.

Concert Preparation

  • Time ManagementConcert preparation takes a lot of time and energy so learning time management skills early is very important. When concert season rolls around music teachers are extremely busy and don’t have much extra time. In order to have a successful concert it is necessary to plan ahead by starting to prepare for your concerts months ahead of time, use your time efficiently, ask for parents to help advertise, pass out programs etc., and ask students to help with tasks such as setting up the stage.
  • OrganizationPreparing for concerts as does all aspects of teaching requires a lot of organization. You have to make sure the programs are printed, the stage is set, the concert is advertised, extra rehearsals are scheduled if needed, the students know what to wear and what time to arrive for the concert and most importantly you have to make sure the students are prepared. Some ways to stay organized are to document everything, keep old concert programs for reference, file everything by subject or categories, etc.
  • Communication Skills- Concert preparation requires a lot of communication skills. You must communicate with your students, parents, other teachers, administration, and community members. It is important to have good communication skills for multiple reasons such as sounding professional and eliminating confusion. Having good communication skills will help to make your concerts more successful and run more smoothly.
  • Keeping PerspectiveConcert preparation can be a very stressful, challenging and time-consuming process so it is important to keep perspective. Even though concert preparation requires a lot of organizational tasks the music needs to stay as the top priority. It is important to master the skills above necessary to have a successful concert, but what takes place inside the classroom is more important. Even though all the organizational tasks must be taken care of a concert can’t happen without music. It is important as a teacher to strike a careful balance between dealing with the organizational side of concert preparation and actually preparing the music.

How can I get Experience in Concert Preparation?

I believe it is important for music education undergraduates to get as much experience as possible in concert preparation before they get their first teaching job. While a lot of concert preparation is learning as you go there a few ways for undergraduates to get experience while they are still in college.

  • ProgramsMaking programs seems like an easy task, but it takes a lot of practice to get them to look professional and pleasing to the eye. Looking at different types of concert programs is a great way to see different ways that programs can be formated. Another way to get experience in making programs is asking if you can help to make one. For example if your college has a chamber ensemble concert you could volunteer to make the program for it. Some undergraduate method classes require their students to make a sample concert program. This is a great way to practice making programs and get feedback from professors and educators to help you improve.
  • Attend Concerts Attending concerts can be a very beneficial way to get experience in preparing concerts. As a music education undergraduate it is important to attend concerts with the mindset of an educator not just a spectator. By attending concerts you can learn a lot about the organization that goes into preparing concerts. You can see first hand things such as advertising for concerts, programs, how the stage is set up, what type of literature is performed etc. Another great way to learn is to talk to the director after the concert and ask questions. Most directors are more than willing to talk to undergraduates and give them advice. This is a great time to ask any specific questions you may have or to learn the basics of concert preparation.
  • Student Leadership- Leading small ensembles is one of the best ways to gain experience in concert preparation. While this is on a smaller scale than preparing a concert as a teacher it is still a valuable experience. When leading small ensembles you are in charge of things such as picking music, planning performances, scheduling practices, communicating with the other members and professors, and possibly making concert programs. All of these tasks are very similar to the tasks involved in concert preparation as a teacher. I am the leader of multiple small ensembles at Grove City College and through that have learned a lot about not only leadership, but also about preparing for performances and concerts.
  • Student TeachingYour student teaching experience is one of the best ways to get experience in concert preparation as an undergraduate. Most of the time cooperating teachers are more than willing to let you help prepare a concert and conduct a few pieces. Even if you don’t get to help prepare the concert you get to see a lot of the background tasks that take place. Your cooperating teacher is also a great person to ask questions to and ask to ask them about there experiences when it comes to preparing for concerts. I am very excited to get to start this experience in a few weeks. My cooperating teacher has already informed me that besides conducting a few pieces on the February concert I will also be helping with organizational tasks such as creating the program and setting up the stage. I hoping helping with these tasks will help prepare me for my first concert as a teacher.

Concert preparation is a challenging and daunting task for all music teachers and can be especially intimidating for beginning teachers. Gaining as many of the skills listed above and getting experience in concert preparation as an undergraduate will help greatly when preparing for your first concert as a teacher. A lot of concert preparation is learned through doing, but any experience you can get now as an undergraduate will be helpful in the future.