Well, I hope everyone had a really fun Halloween and are now turning their hearts to the gratitude of Thanksgiving. In the midst of turkey songs and Thanksgiving hymns, it is time to work on the Christmas program too—especially if you are like me and only see your students twice a week. So hopefully you have planned the theme of your program. . . maybe even purchased one of my seven great little plays that will give you a great base to start from. . . .and chosen the music you want to use. Now what’s next?
1. Well, I thinking scheduling is key. I am blessed to be able to change the music schedule around at Christmastime so that I can have the singing groups together for practice. (For instance, taking all the second graders at one time instead of the regular music schedule where they come at different times.) Check with your principal first! Then don’t just tell the teachers about the change—type up a schedule and attach it to an email and then print it out and display where teachers will see it (above the copy machine always works well!) It is difficult to work around PE, library, and special reading classes, but do your best. The new schedule should give you some extra time then to continue planning and to meet with your cast or other special groups.
2. Engage someone to be your accompanist or to run your sound for you. If arrangements need to be made to pay them, be sure and check that out.
3. Arrange a time for auditions for your actors or soloists. Because my fifth graders are the ones who do the play, I hold auditions during their music class. Not only do I choose them on the basis of their acting ability, I look at their overall behavior. Talent is one thing, but loud talking and acting out backstage will kill a program. Pick responsible people!!
4. Once your cast is chosen, send out a letter to parents regarding costumes. Our Santascenes playbook has a sample letter to parents for each play. Parents are usually so delighted for their child to be chosen for the cast that they are incredibly helpful about finding costumes. That being said, I encourage them to borrow or come up with something from home. If they need to purchase something, I think colored sweatpants and sweattops can be the basis for lots of costumes. Just be flexible.
5. You will want to have great props/decorations for your stage or performance area, so enlist some teachers to help you! I just put a sign that says the Harmony/Deep Rock Decorating Committee is meeting and then I type up a general idea of what is needed for the stage and some props. Then let the teachers fill in all the details. I’ve found that when you get other teachers involved, there is more ownership and everyone enjoys the performance much more.
6. Begin your rehearsals in plenty of time, so that you aren’t stressed and the children are sure of themselves when they perform. Don’t shoot for perfection. . . aim for a memorable performance for your kids!
So I wish you a wonderful performance! You’re on the right track. Don’t leave out Thanksgiving with your students. All of us need to ponder the blessings God has gifted us with! Talk to them about it!