Junior School Concert Program
This year my school's major performance was a Junior Concert for all students in Prep - Year 3. This was the first time I had put together a gala concert rather than a scripted musical and at first I was a little stuck for ideas.
I knew that I wanted it to have more structure and coherency than simply getting each class up on stage to do a song & dance, but I also didn't want to go the whole hog and stage a full theatrical production - can you imagine getting 60 prep kids to memorise lines?!
It was then that I stumbled upon this great program idea from the wonderful Mrs. Miracle (you can read her post about the program here).
It was based upon the book "You Belong Here" by M. H. Clarke, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. The book features gorgeous illustrations and each page has a 4 line rhyming stanza about particular creatures, people and plants and the various places they belong. It is a beautiful reaffirmation of every little thing having it's own place in the world - a place to call home.
I auditioned a number of Yr 3 students to be our speakers and they took it in turns to get up and read a passage from the book and introduce a class who would come on and perform a song/dance/instrumental piece that was related to the passage.
Here are the pieces my students performed - many of these were taken from the program provided by Aileen Miracle, but several others I changed to fit the group of students I was working with. We have 3 classes at each year level, so a total of 12 classes to perform. These classes were also split in two in order to have 2 separate performance nights and allow for enough families to get adequate seating in our venue.
After a Yr 3 student read the passage from "The pines belong ..." up to "winds start to blow"
one class performed "A Grizzly Bear" in very cute costumes with bear ears I sewed myself! They performed the song twice, with a chase sequence in the middle where they did a lap of the stage pretending to be chased by a grizzly bear! I had some of my senior students design a simple backing track on Garage Band with the chords I provided and it sounded fantastic!
Another class performed "Here Is The Beehive" with some flitting & buzzing choreography. I was super proud of these guys as they had perhaps the most complicated stage movements of the whole cohort and they performed them well! Once again, some senior students designed a backing track, but there are several out there you can listen to.
The third prep class performed "Three Little Fishies"
One class performed John Feierabend's dance to "Aquarium" from Saint-Saens'" Carnival of the Animals". We made some very effective Jellyfish costumes by attaching blue crepe to some elbow-length ball gloves, but I've also seen a very cool effect done with glowsticks! Take a look here for that cool effect
Another performed Funga Alafia. - Take a look here at my post on using this as a welcome song. It comes with a fantastic book and is the gift that just keeps giving. I'll dig this song out again in future to introduce high do and also syncopa. Plus, it's just a fun song to sing! MusicMap have published an excellent book accompaniment that features some elephants pitch-patterning the song in the middle of the book!
We also had an all-boys composite class that have been a little reluctant to sing in the past, along with several focus issues. At first I was struggling for ideas, until I tried out this hand drumming book and the boys really responded to the piece One to Four - once we added instruments they absolutely loved it! They've been expressing their disappointment that they won't be able to keep practising it once the concert is over!
One class performed the folk song Love Somebody based on this excellent arrangement from Beth's Music Classroom TpT page. It features 6 different percussion ostinati (both rhythmic and melodic) which was a bit much for this class, so in the end we simplified it a little, but it was still super effective!
Another class performed Kaeru (a Japanese folk song about frogs) and added in a rhythmic ostinato on these frog guiros:
The third class performed an accumulative action song called "My Aunt Came Back". As students sing about the various souvenirs their aunt has brought back from her many trips abroad, they add one action after another (eg. a waving fan from Japan, wooden shoes from Holland too!) so that by the end of the song, they are rocking and flapping all over the place!
We also designated one souvenir to each student. When their verse came, they would parade the item along the front of the stage, then rejoin the company at the other end of the line.
This was the song that ate up my props budget the most!
Our Year three students have been working hard on their part-singing abilities, so I really wanted to show this off with a number of rounds.
One class performed "Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree" in 4 part canon (!!!) along with this backing track and some simple choreography (wings flapping etc)
Another performed Senua De Dende (an African song about a mother calling her child home at the end of the day) with an accompanying clapping pattern (all quavers): clap hands / tap right shoulder with right hand/ tap left shoulder with left hand / clap / tap R shoulder / tap L shoulder / tap R thigh / tap L thigh. This pattern is a great way to practise syncopation and it took a while to get everyone coordinated, but it looks incredible once it comes together.
Finally, our third class arranged Who Has Seen The Wind with an accompanying Orff-inspired spoken ostinato. I based a lot of the steps of this arrangement off this blog post although the beauty of children's creativity is that the finished product turned out quite differently.
We had a child off stage playing wind chimes to signal each group's turn to move onto the stage, swirling in an imaginary wind. Then the students sang, a few played the melody on xylophones, they sang again and echoed the melody, then added a rhythmic ostinato based on words inspired by the song ("autumn leaves, hibernating, hot chocolate, ice = ti-ti taa, ti-ti ti-ti, taa ti-ti, taa saa).
It came together so well and I got chills watching it being performed!
What ideas do you turn to for concert inspiration? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!