On Monday and Tuesday in chorus, we'll listen to the concert and write some reflections. But my community and I had a very good discussion today about the concert, and I want to address some concerns, in case I forget once I smell the pizza...
1. The Audience
A) Student reactions: Some students in the audience were there to do their music assignment. Of this, Peter couldn't have put it better, "If you go to Bigelow and care about chorus, you're in chorus, not the audience." Whatever their reaction to the concert, realize they were there for THEIR education, and to expand their minds, not because they're huge chorus fans (with some exceptions- hi, Claire and Henry!)
B) Student behavior: One of the best things about conducting is I don't have to watch the audience misbehave. Bummer for you guys, though. Many students who attend a middle school concert have NEVER attended a concert before. They have no idea how to behave. While it's a big part of the music AND drama curriculum I teach, even in class, ten seconds after we discuss the rules for watching a performance, kids forget. I will make a curtain speech at our concert to remind students of the rules, though. But you reminding your friends that it's distracting to YOU when they text/talk etc. is even more effective.
2) 6th Grade Chorus Behavior: 6th Graders, you sang beautifully. but when you weren't singing, a lot of you were talking. EVEN onstage. Guess what? The audience noticed. It looked bad.
3) Performance, Bad Cop
A lot of you felt terrible about your performance. That's good.
It wasn't awesome. We were not as prepared as anyone would have liked.
Some of that was due to factors we had no control over, like snow days. Some of it didn't actually show- the mistakes in J'entends and Kang Ding were not noticeable if you didn't know the piece.
But a lot of it was due to factors we did have control over. 7th/8th grade chorus has had almost no breaks this year, due to poor behavior. Alas, that extra 5 minutes of rehearsal can't make up for all the wasted time. 6th grade chorus had more than enough rehearsal time- but didn't look over their music in the days leadingup to the concert. 5 minutes of practice at home would have fixed all the 6th grade issues. 10 minutes a week of practice by the 7th/8th graders would have fixed many of the 7th/8th grade issues.
Students new to chorus, or to 7th/8th grade chorus, had some excuse. But now you don't. You've all been in chorus a half a year, minimum. If you aren't doing the work that's required, you know exactly how our spring concert will feel.
If you feel disappointed with how our concert went, that means you care, and that you're a good enough musician to recognize mistakes. And that's fantastic. It's 80% of the battle. Now act on it, and our chorus will, I promise, blow the roof off in the spring.
4) Performance, Good Cop
In truth, I was blown away by the concert itself. Largely, against all odds and efforts of Nature, you pulled it off. It wasn't flawless, but it was very good. J'entends was about the best we'd ever done it. Instructions was gorgeous. O Come, O Come was better than I'd even imagined. El Grillo was crickety. Everything was incredibly energetic and joyful. From all reports, the audience loved it. It was, as Molly's dad noted (now on his 5th chorus concert), far and away our most ambitious concert ever. We're gonna keep swinging for the fences, and I look forward to being continuously surprised, impressed and delighted by how high we soar.
With thanks and pride,