Get in Tune with your Elementary Music Concert Programs: Creative Ideas for Your Book-Themed Performance

Does the idea of concert planning completely overwhelm you? Are you looking to create your own concert programs around a unique theme? Well, you're definitely not alone! When I started teaching in 2015, the pre-scripted concert programs you could purchase from Music K-8 were a literal life saver. Over the past few years though, I wanted to challenge myself to create a concert program that was unique to my students, facilitate discussions on topics that were relevant to our current situations, but didn't take so much time away from class. I'm here to reassure you that you can create a memorable and engaging concert experience for your students! 

The Symphony of Literature: Why Book-Themed Concerts?

Picture books are not just for story time in the classroom (although, I truly believe that no one is ever too old for a read aloud!). Picture books can also serve as inspiration for elementary music concert programs. Book-themed concerts allow you to create a perfect blend music and storytelling to create a magical experience. 

So, why should you consider a book-themed concert? Not only do they provide an opportunity to select music that is appropriate for your students but, it allows you to incorporate stories that may not necessarily have a direct music tie-in. It challenges you, your students, and the community to explore literature in a new light. 

Making the Perfect choice: How to Select Your Book and Complementing Music Pieces

Selecting the perfect book and music pieces to complement your book-themed concert is crucial for creating a captivating and cohesive experience. So, where do you start? When in doubt, go to the library!

If your school is lucky enough to have a librarian, they are a WONDERFUL place to start and wealth of knowledge. Our school library always has a display of new books the school has ordered and I love to peruse the books. The scholastic book fair is another great place to look through books and see which stories interest students and families. 

While perusing through books, there's a few things you'll want to consider... 
  • The length of the book: Depending the length of your concerts and the amount of rehearsal time you have you'll want to pick something that is long enough to incorporate the number of pieces you'd like but short enough to keep families engaged during the performance on the story. 
  • The theme of the book: This is where I love using books! What is the message of the book trying to say? There have been so many great books that tackle social-emotional learning challenges, different cultures, and challenges that are unique to our students generation! 
  • Theme words/ideas in the book: What are the sub themes or theme words that you can pull from to inspire your music selection?

Illustrating Narratives Through Melody: Integrating the Book into Your Concert

One of the most exciting aspects of incorporating a book into your program is the opportunity to bring the narrative to life through melody and harmony. 

Start by breaking down the narrative of the book and identifying key moments or scenes that you want to highlight in your concert. Consider the emotions and moods that are present in these moments and choose pieces of music that capture those feelings. This was the "messy" part for me - looking through every songbook and collection I had that could tie into these moments. Whether it was folk songs, composed songs, or popular music - look through it all. You can even have students contribute to this process by asking them what music do they think of at this point. 

Once you have chosen the music pieces, think about how you can tell a cohesive story. Will your students narrate the text? Will you have students act out the book? Will you give a synopsis of the program prior to?

Key Takeaways for Success: Quick Tips and Strategies for Your Book-Themed Concert Planning

Planning a book-themed concert can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some quick tips and strategies to ensure success:

1. Start Early: Begin your concert planning well in advance and allow ample time for song selection, rehearsal, and coordination with other teachers and staff. I personally plan all my concerts for the next school year at the end of this school year. 

2. Collaborate with teachers: Reach out to the classroom teachers for suggestions and opportunities for cross-curricular integration. This can help create a cohesive and meaningful experience for students. 

3. Involve your students: Get your students excited by involving them in the process. This can include in put on song choices, creating artwork, props, etc. for your performance!

4. Consider logistics: How many rehearsals will you have with your students? What are your students doing in their concert? Are they just singing, or will you have instruments? skits? How long is your program? 

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite programs revolving around books! In the mean time, happy planning!

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