This past month we have been preparing for our Annual Concert. There is a great deal of preparation and thought that goes into organising each of these concerts. Each year at Novar Music, we host two large concerts in addition to the other performance opportunities I’ve written about previously¬†here.

Throughout the years of planning and hosting student events there are a number of strategies I have put in place to make things run as smoothly as possible.

Annual Concert

Start Planning Early

  • What format will your concert take? For our school, these Annual Concerts are formal, hosted events and take place in the evening.
  • Choose your ideal date and then choose a secondary option.
  • Get to know the venues in your area that would be suitable for your concert. Go to your first choice and see if those dates work for them. Over time I’ve developed a relationship with the venues we hire each year. I contact them in June to book the dates for November concerts. If your first venue choice isn’t an option, go to your next and so on.
  • Do you require any catering for the event? If so, now is also the time to start booking that in. If you are doing the catering yourself this will need its own plan.
  • Once the dates are set with the venue (and caterer if required) inform all teachers, parents and students.

In The Lead Up (several weeks out)

  • At our concerts we give awards and prizes. Ensure you have discussed with teachers (or decided for yourself) who will be receiving these. Then arrange the prizes. If you award each student with a trophy or medal you will also need to order your prizes to ensure they arrive in time. Our students receive print music appropriate to their level and a certificate.
  • Commence writing any documents that may be needed:
    • Program
    • Running sheet
    • Awards list
    • Signs for entry doors
    • Reserved seating sign
    • Host outline for the evening
  • Confirm booking with venue and caterer

On the Home Stretch

  • Complete all documentation. Ensure you have checked spelling of student and composer names in addition to the title of pieces. Then print everything required.
  • Put the host speech into a nice folder with a program and a pen.
  • If you have prizes and certificates now is the time to wrap and write those. Put them all in a bag ready to go.
  • Know what you are wearing. It takes makes getting ready on the day much easier.
  • We have several teachers perform at each concert, so in the days prior I arrange flowers and chocolates to be presented to them after their performance. The flowers are collected the day prior to each concert.
  • Start collecting all of the items to be taken to venue in one place. Do you need a camera? How about a bottle of water for yourself?

On the Day

  • It is likely that you will receive phone calls and emails throughout the day in regards to the concert (this can depend on the size of the concert). Leave time to deal with this.
  • Try to be at the venue at least an hour before the concert. People will start arriving 20-30 minutes before the start time and you will want to be organised before that happens.
  • I work with an event time sheet. I work backwards from the concert start time. If it is a 6pm start, I need to be at the venue by around 4.45pm. Which means I need to leave home by….. you get the picture. Allow time for you to get ready, eat something and load your car with the things to take to the venue.
  • If possible, have someone who can help you. I have a wonderful family who are very helpful and this year my mum was my right hand. She helped me at the venue, took photos and generally did everything that was needed.

Concert Time

  • So you are at the venue early, you have everything you need and you have a helper? Congratulations, you have hit the jackpot.
  • Set out everything you need. Host information and folder on the lectern, piano and seating arrangements checked and area for supper checked. Oh and the toilets, a quick check (and prayer) that they are tidy. Arrange the prizes near where you will need them when announced and the flowers for the teachers performing before interval and at the very end of the concert.
  • As people arrive, tick them off the Host’s program to know that they are in attendance.
  • Try to commence on time. I normally allow 5 minutes after the start time to get everyone settled and then commence.
  • Go with the flow. Once the concert commences, any number of things may change. The host’s job is to roll with it and keep the concert well paced and moving forward. One year my caterer didn’t turn up. That was a very ‘interesting’ hosting experience. We had no choice but to roll with it and in the end we had a lovely supper at the end of the concert (thanks to some very quick thinking and quick-moving by my dad!).
  • Enjoy it. Take time to listen to the beautiful music your students are creating.

At the end of the concert after everyone departs, collect up your things and back into the car everything goes.  And you are all ready for your next concert. Well in my case, our first Annual Concert was last night and it went so well. Now we are putting the finishing touches on the second venue concert for next week. In total around 75 students will perform in the 2 concerts.

At the end of the day it is a tiring but such a rewarding part of the year for me. These plans, developed over the years are a sure fire way to reduce the stress involved in concert planning and hosting!