Your child will have their very first band or orchestra concert soon! Playing on stage in front of an audience can be a life-changing experience for anyone. Most students performing in a beginning band or orchestra concert will find the experience both exciting and terrifying at the same time. We have compiled some tips to make sure your child is concert ready!
Tip 1: Practice the Concert Music Daily
Daily practice at home is essential so your child feels confident in the music they are going to play on stage. Your child’s teacher will communicate the specific performance songs at their rehearsals and lessons. Expect the communication about a month before the show. Parents should ask their student what music they will be performing to help stay engaged with their progress. Ask your child to play the music they will be performing at the concert for you during their daily practice sessions so you can pick out their part out during the concert!
Practice should include more than just playing the notes on the page. Listening to a recording of each tune or song is very important for the musician to understand if what they are playing everything correctly. In the beginning stages of learning an instrument, your child will start with a beginning method book. Most modern method books include online resources to help the student progress. These resources include recordings of each exercise. Here are some popular methods:
Many students will try to cram in all of their practice time right before the concert. It is strongly recommended they get in the habit of practicing regularly, and well in advance of their concerts, to reinforce good muscle memory. We invite you to read our blog about setting up a practice space in your home to help inspire them for practice.
Tip 2: Attend Rehearsals
In addition to your student’s weekly individual or small group lessons with their teacher, musicians should be attending group band or orchestra rehearsals. This rehearsal is an opportunity for all of the students performing together to specifically prepare for the concert. In these rehearsals, they learn more than just the notes! Students will learn performance etiquette and the choreography that goes along with performing in a school band or orchestra.
The last rehearsal before the concert is called the dress rehearsal. Your student will not need to dress up for this rehearsal! The phrase “dress rehearsal” originates from the theater where performers would have their costumes on and perform the show as they would in front of an audience. With school band and orchestras, the emphasis is not on wearing their concert attire, but performing a run through of the songs and choreography of movements. This important rehearsal will give them the information regarding what, when, why, and how of their upcoming performance. The students will practice getting on and off stage, run through the concert in order, and ask any last-minute questions that may arise.
Tip 3: Get Your Concert Attire
It is essential to have the right concert clothes in advance of the first performance. Each music teacher will have a different set of guidelines, so it is essential you find out details about their expectations. Common concert attire for elementary school band or orchestras is to wear nice clothes, avoiding jeans and sportswear. In middle school, teachers will often ask their students to wear solid white shirts and solid black pants or skirts. In high school, many directors will have “concert black attire,” which is a tuxedo or black dress. It is common for these uniforms to be issued by the school. Each ensemble is different, so make sure you have the specific communication from your student’s teacher.
Expert Tip: If your student is wearing a skirt to the concert, it is recommended to be aware of the length of the skirt. The stage will be well lit and often the audience in the front few rows will be looking up at the musicians on-stage.
Tip 4: Is there a Charge for the Concert?
Each school district has different policies on ticketing their school concerts or cover charges at the door. Some schools will not charge at all, or some will require you to pay. Your school band or orchestra teacher will communicate this to you. If they do not, it is helpful to ask them and let them know that the other parents with student beginners would appreciate this information.
Tip 5: Dealing with Stage Fright
The exciting thing about performing in a band or orchestra is that you are part of a big group! While we all try to avoid making mistakes, they do happen, and your child will not be alone! The nice thing about a group beginning concert is that no one knows it was them if he or she happened to make an error!
If your child is nervous about performing on-stage, let your child’s teacher know they are feeling insecure. The teacher may be able to seat them on the inside rows of the ensemble, so they do not feel as exposed to help put them at ease.
Tip 6: Be On Time
Your band or orchestra teacher will let them know exactly what time they need to arrive to prepare for the concert. This arrival time is known as the Call Time. It is crucial your student is on-time so they can get tuned, warmed up, and oriented before their first performance. The call time will be earlier than the performance time. The performance time is when the show will start, and you should be in your seats ready to see your student perform.
Expert Tip- show up early, sometimes these beginning band and orchestra concerts can fill up quickly.
Tip 7: Invite Friends and Family
Just like you may do for sports games, invite your friends and family to attend your child’s first concert! Your student will appreciate the support. The first concert is a once in a lifetime event, and it is exciting to share this opportunity with your family and friends.
We hope your child has a spectacular and memorable first concert experience! Make sure to take lots of pictures and videos to document this exciting experience. The first concert is tons of fun and will certainly motivate them to keep playing and having fun!
Katie Senn is the Content and Community Engagement Manager for West Music. Her background is in music education, with an emphasis in orchestral directing and cello. She performs regularly around the midwest with her all-female folk band Awful Purdies. She serves her local community as a board member for the following organizations: Iowa City Music Auxilary, Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child, and her children’s before and afterschool program.