Do you dread the annual Christmas concert?
Here is a little insight into my experience of Christmas concerts over the years and what I have learnt to make it easier for all involved.
I taught Reception and Year 1 in a primary school. Every year we did a Christmas concert for the parents/grandparents. I remember, even as a musician, it being a very stressful time. As I played the piano I was asked to learn to play all the pieces of music that accompanied the concert, even though there was a backing CD, along with teaching the children all the songs. My main learning point here is if you have a great backing track go with it, don't make extra work for yourselves! ;)
Ready made/bought off the shelf Christmas concerts
The benefit of these productions is everything is there and ready to use: story, songs, script, backing tracks… The music is usually brilliant with lots of jolly backing tracks which the children and adults love.
These may seem like the easy option but they require LOTS… and ... LOTS… of work for everyone involved. The main disadvantage is everything is NEW to the children and maybe the adults too!
When learning new songs the children need to hear the words and the tune. My main advice, if you decide to go with this option, is the adults NEED to learn the songs in advance of teaching the children so they can teach without the need for a backing track. The advantage of having no backing track is the adult can easily stop and start so they can teach a little at a time plus the children can hear the tune they need to sing instead of getting distracted by the exciting backing track. When the children have mastered a verse or two then sing along with the backing track.
Doing your own thing!
Since I set up Musical abc I have also helped with EYFS productions. What I have learnt from all these experiences is the simpler the better; it is easier for all involved, the children enjoy it, and the parents love what they do no matter what!
If you want to do your own thing with the children, brilliant! Here are my suggestions to make your life easier:
Make the majority of the concert based on songs, rhymes and activities that the children already know. Start by choosing from songs and rhymes that you have been learning in your setting; select those the children have been enthused about learning. Then choose a few simple Christmas songs that you can learn with the children; that way you have songs to go along with your nativity scene etc. You can also include responses to music that the children have created. For example movement and art work in response to pieces of music.
By doing this it takes the pressure off learning lots of new songs and activities for the concert plus it is showing the parents/grandparents what they have been learning in your setting.
A Freebie to help you on your way!
To get you on your way below is a link to download a connecting song that I wrote for an EYFS concert. In the concert, the children sang it whenever there was a change of scene/activity e.g.: moving to get ready to do a dance; moving to stand in the nativity scene….
Included is a lesson plan with links to the EYFS, an MP3 to learn the words/tune and a help video to speed up how to teach the song.
Happy music making!