Back in September I started organising a pupils’ end of term concert. In previous years, a friend who’s a retired piano teacher had had a Christmas concert in her home and had very kindly invited my pupils to play. This time, however, she decided to do something different so I decided to organise a pupils’ concert myself.
I first checked with a possible venue to find out availability and cost. Then I asked all the parents if they’d come and if their children would like to play. All the families said “yes” although one family later found themselves accidentally double-booked so didn’t come after all. I didn’t know what to do about a day / time, whether to have a weekday evening or a weeked daytime but one of the parents suggested the last Saturday afternoon of term. Some of the children had swimming / football etc. on that Saturday morning but the afternoon was fine and the venue was available so I went ahead and booked it, carefully checking the terms and conditions of the contract before I signed it.
I helped the children to choose what they were going to play (my adult pupils had a panic at the thought of performing to an audience and so chose not to come). Some chose carols, some chose jazzy pieces, two wanted to play their own compositions, one chose to play duets with me and two sisters also played a duet, all in all a good variety of music, something for everyone to enjoy.
I then started typing up a programme on the computer (I prefer to use PagePlus for this – a program designed for this sort of publication rather than, say, Word in which I get cross when items move round the screen when I don’t want them to because I’ve moved something else). I listed the names of the players, titles and composers in a table for the inside of the programme. Two pupils volunteered to do pictures for it. The first was unfortunately unusable as it was a montage of pictures from the internet and so were copyright so the child drew a picture to go with the music he was playing, very detailed, which went on the front cover. The other child also drew a good picture to go with her own composition, so that went on the inside of the programme.
When it came to printing the programmes, I took them to the public library to print as I knew that the printers there are very quick and print well in colour. Unfortunately, some of the programmes (I did them in small batches) came out single-sided on two pages instead of double-sided on one page which was annoying but I didn’t think any of the audience would really mind. Apart from that I was pleased with the way the programmes came out.
I decided to make a small charge for tickets to cover the cost of venue hire and refreshments but also to have a collecting tin for a local charity so I needed to get a tin and check I didn’t need a permit (I didn’t, I think because the concert wasn’t open to the public(?). My father emailed me a template for tickets and, when I’d emailed them back to him, he kindly printed them on green card and neatly cut them up into separate tickets.
For the refreshments, the grandmother of the duettists offered to bring cake but I also brought extra (I cheated and went to Waitrose from where I’d had a delicious chocolate cake about a month previously).
I knew that one family was vegan so I managed to find a vegan Danish apple cake, which I think was appreciated, but didn’t think to take soya milk for the tea on the day.
The church had requested that I use Fairtrade refreshments so a couple of weeks before the concert I went to the church’s stall during one of its Wednesday morning coffee mornings and bought tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate-chip biscuits. I also went shopping and bought some orange squash plus some plastic cups for the younger children.
I made a list (rather longer than I expected) of everything I needed to take to the concert. Apart from the refreshments, this included copies of all the music the children were playing (and of the one short piece I decided to play myself at the beginning) as I thought somebody was bound to leave their music at home (I was right!), my own height-adjustable piano stool as the stool that is used with the church piano (a Technics digital, with full keyboard of 88 touch-sensitive keys and three pedals) is a fixed height and too low for the younger children, an extension lead (which I didn’t need in the end) and some parcel tape in case I needed to tape the piano mains lead out of the way. Also my footstool so that the smaller children were stable and their feet weren’t hanging in mid-air when they played, and the programmes.
On the day, my brother kindly drove here especially to help me get everything round to the church and set it up. The chairs had been left set out the day before so it was lovely not to have to do that. I checked the location of the fire extinguishers (as it said in the contract) (I already knew the exit locations as I’d been to concerts in the church before) and first aid box.
I distributed the programmes round the chairs before anybody came so I didn’t need to hand them round as people came in.
I’d invited the families to come early, which they did, the children trying the piano before the concert and everybody eating the delicious cakes which the duettists’ grandmother had very kindly home-made, and chatting as most of the families didn’t already know each other. (Sometimes there are surprises such as “Oh, hello! Didn’t your daughter go to the same nursery as mine?” etc.)
The concert itself went very well. One mother commented afterwards that next year she would invite her children’s grandparents as it wasn’t too long to be listening to other people’s children play!, something I’d not thought about. Another parent told me she thought it was well organised. Good!
After everybody had gone, with the help of my brother again I cleared everything up and left it all as I found it as instructed.
The families went home happy. Here’s to the next pupils’ concert!