Celebrate Music: A Concert Theme

Hi everyone! This is Jamie, and I am in full concert preparation mode with my second and third graders. Each year, I try to pick a theme for my concerts to help me stay organized, and I thought I’d share my process of selecting materials with you.

Before choosing a concert theme, I think about the following questions:
1.     What kind of song literature do I want to use?
a.     I try to pick themes that are broad enough to use many different types of songs. I like to include the following in my concerts:
·      Song tales
·      Pieces that includes partwork
·      Folk dances/movement pieces
·      Pieces that include an instrument accompaniment played by students
·      Multicultural songs
·      Expressive/beautiful pieces
·      Pieces that include a component that has been created by the students (composition)
2.     Does the theme allow for me to still teach my curriculum while preparing for the concert?
a.     Let’s face it. Preparing and planning for a concert can eat up A LOT of class time. Since I only see my students for 30 minutes twice a week, every minute is important to me. I try to include songs in my concerts that the students might know already or songs that they will learn later for a melodic/rhythmic concept. I also try to include skills on the concert that meet my curricular goals.
3.     Does the theme allow for student input/extra student opportunities?
a.     Concerts are a perfect time for students to take leadership roles. I try to include pieces in which groups of students can perform on instruments or show the audience the movement/game for a song. The students could also write a description of a piece and introduce it to the audience.
4.     Does the theme allow for audience involvement/teach the audience about the music program?
a.     When I have families come to a music concert, I want them to enjoy watching their child, but I also want them to leave with knowledge about music and the music curriculum in my district. This can be accomplished through including the audience on a particular piece or by explaining the concepts behind each selection.

With that said, this year I have chosen a “Celebrate Music” theme for all of my grade levels. Students will learn and perform songs utilizing different components of music.  For each component, I will choose one song/piece for the students to perform. Here are some examples:
·     Music is Joyful 
·      Music is Historical
·      Music is Movement
·      Music is Multicultural
·      Music is Creative
·      Music is Playful
·      Music can have Multiple Parts
·      Music expresses Emotion
·      Music has Melody
·      Music has Rhythm
·      Music has Form
I’m sure you could come up with even more!

I’ve used the component, “Music is Creative,” in my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade concert programs. Here is what I’ve done:

2nd Grade
The second graders will perform the song, “William He Had Seven Sons.”

At the concert, several students will come off of the risers. Each time the song is sung, one of the students will create a 4-beat motion for everyone else (including the audience) to copy. After each repetition of the song, everyone will repeat all of the previous motions (making the movement cumulative).

3rd Grade
My third graders just started learning recorder in February. They have learned the notes B, A, and G, and they are ready to create their own music on recorder. For the concert, each class will compose their own 16-beat song. We will go through the following teaching process:
1.     Choose a form to follow. I have found that when students compose to a given form (Ex: A Av B Av), they are more organized in their writing.
2.     Compose rhythm (we will only use the rhythms ta, ti-ti, and rest in the compositions)
3.     Add in the letter names (BAG)
4.     Finger through our composed song
5.     Play the composed song
6.     Make any alterations that the students feel necessary
7.     Play the composed song again
8.     Write the song in the music staff
9.     Continue practicing the song until it is memorized

This process will take SEVERAL class periods to get through. At the concert, each class will present its’ own piece to the other students and the audience.

4th Grade
My fourth graders had their concert earlier this school year. At the time, we were reviewing the do pentatonic scale. Each class added an 8-beat melodic interlude on xylophones between the verses of the song, “Firefly.”

Here is the teaching process we went through:
1.     Create 8 beats of rhythm (we only used the rhythms ta, ti-ti, rest)
2.     Add in the solfa sounds under the rhythm (do re mi so la)
3.     Inner hear the composition
4.     Sing the composition out loud
5.     Make any alterations that the students feel necessary
6.     Sing the composition again
7.     Write the composition in the music staff
8.     Perform the composition on xylophones
9.     Continue practicing the composition until it is memorized

At the concert, all of the students sang the verses of the song. Then, between the verses, students who wanted to perform the melodic compositions played on xylophone. During the singing of the verses, the students who were playing passed on the mallets to the next performer.

This was a great experience for the audience, the students, and me! The fourth graders took ownership of their creations, and the audience members could see the hard work that went into creating a piece from scratch.

I also created a music advocacy bulletin board that features the different components of music.  It’s called “Owl” About Music, and it’s available here at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. This bulletin board could be used at any time during the year and would be a great addition in any music classroom. Here are some pictures from the kit:



Have a good week!


Unknown said...

Love your verses for Firefly! I have never heard those particular verses before! I would have loved to have heard the B section that your 4th graders came up with! GREAT ideas! Thank you for blogging!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Debbie! I wish I would have recorded my fourth graders back in the fall. I'll have to remember to do that in the future!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie,
Do you have your concerts at night? How often do you see your students each week? Thanks for sharing!!

Unknown said...


I do have my concerts at night. I've debated this over the years, but I think it works best in my district. Most of the parents in my district work during the day and this is the only way they would be able to see their child perform. I see my kids (k-4) twice a week for 30 minutes.

Back to Top