It’s that time of year.
Festivals are behind us.
Assessment is over.
Marching band preparation is in full force.
And we are preparing for the final presentation of the band for the year.
Many may consider this the “fun” concert. However, in the eyes of the parents, administration, and your colleagues, this is final concert is the culmination of all you have been working on for the year.
When planning for the final concert, there are several things to consider. However, it is important for the Wind Conductor to take in to account this public perception of the final concert. As you prepare and begin finalizing the program for the final concert, think about the audience and their enjoyment of the “culmination of all you have been working on for the year.”
To answer your question… No. We don’t lower our standards to appease the audience. However, it is important that the audience grasps the event for what it is.
Here are some idea to think about when selecting repertoire for the final concert.
It’s okay to show off a bit!
Your students have been working hard to tackle some challenging concepts. If intonation has been the focus of the ensemble, select a beautiful, lyrical piece that illustrates the concept of playing in tune with beauty and control.
If you’ve been working on technique, choose a flashy piece that highlights the technique you’ve developed over the course of the year. Bombard the audience with those incredible woodwind runs and acrobatics of the brass and the racing skill of the percussion section.
These are things you’ve been working on all year. Let your parents, administration and colleagues see the success you’ve accomplished with your band!
Draw the audience in.
Some of my most popular performances have been a bit out of the box. One year, I performed Robert W. Smith’s The Great Steamboat Race with my concert band. I asked a some of the drama students to write a “play” for the storyline. It was great and the audience loved it!
Some other great ways to dram in the audience is to is to program a narrated piece. Or you may consider creating a visual element like many have done with Eric Whitacre’s Godzilla Eats Las Vegas. When I performed it, I had some of the wind ensemble’s seniors make the slide show and they recruited band members to pose for the pictures.
FSU Concert Band - Godzilla Eats Las Vegas
Another great way to draw the audience in is to program a great surround-sound piece like those of Jesse Ayers.
Educate the audience.
This in my opinion is one of the biggest responsibilities of an educator-conductor. I know there is differing opinions on the subject of narrating between pieces; however, I personally feel it is important to use our platform to teach our audience what to listen for in the music. In an era of diminishing classical performances, our society is losing its ear for art music and we have ability to teach a small portion of society how to listen with a discerning ear.
Don’t preach. Teach.
When you’ve selected the repertoire which showcases the concepts you have tackled with the band this year, explain to the audience those challenges and why they prove to be difficult for students. Point out the techniques they should listen for in the performance. Let them hear how far you have come. If they have no understanding of the challenges of performing high-level artistic music, they cannot fully appreciate the performance of the students. Remember close to 70% of your parents were never in band and they have no clue about the work that goes into a successful performance. Use your platform to educate them. When the audience learns what you are doing, you will gain renewed support for the program and all that you do for the students.
Every few years it may be worth a demonstration of why an “A is Not Enough” for band. Check out this video featuring the James Clemens High School Wind Ensemble under the direction of Keith Anderson:
Tell us about your final concert preparations below!