Concert Programming

Like many of you, I’m feeling the pressure of upcoming Winter Concerts. Can anyone out there relate?

I teach at three schools, each with beginning and intermediate level Band and Strings, so 4 ensembles per school multiplied by 3. Some of these groups have been doing well and are prepared to perform. Others, on the other hand, are still struggling just a few days before the proverbial curtain rises.

So now I’m faced with the decision about making last-minute changes to the selections some of these ensembles will perform. In the process of doing so, I can’t help but question whether I selected music that was too difficult, or if it was simply an issue of the students not rising to the occasion.

I’m curious how you make your final decisions on concert selections. Do you ever make changes two or three weeks before a performance? Have you had to bail out on a difficult piece and substitute a much easier one?

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2 thoughts on “Concert Programming

  1. I just had this situation myself and decided not to pull the piece and unfortunately it did not work so well. What are your thoughts on this matter?

  2. Justin: Just to clarify, you thought about cutting the piece but you didn’t, and you wish you had?

    Whether or not that’s a good decision depends on a variety of factors. If you’re performing for a festival or some other structured situation, you might not have the option of cutting a piece. However, if it’s a school concert or similar event where you have some freedom, then I would suggest doing whatever possible to help the students sound their best.

    In a way, this goes back to the “cat in the window” analogy. With a school concert, your parents probably won’t go home thinking, “Wow! Mr. Johnson chose a Grade 3 piece and really pulled it off!” But they would remember if you had to stop and restart a piece in performance.

    I think it’s important when planning what music to include in your students’ folders to include music at a variety of difficulty levels. If you need to make a last-minute cut, you will have more options on hand.

    I hope things work out better for you next time!

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