Making the Most of Student Performances

varandah freedigitalphotos

Image courtesy of varandah / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For many teachers around the world, this is the time of year when students perform holiday songs at school. For me, I’m busily preparing my students for a performance, too. What are some things you do to prepare for this event?

  1. Choose a song that students are able to perform. Look at the vocabulary. Check out the grammar structures. Is there enough repetition for young learners? Does the melody stay within a comfortable singing range?
  1. Now let your students listen to a few different songs that fit these requirements. Which one do they like best?
  1. To teach a song, I make sure that my students understand the background and the vocabulary first. I use visual images when possible. Creating a rebus reading with pictures and sight words is an easy way to begin learning a song.
  1. Next, I add simple movements to help students remember the words. Young learners are especially successful with this approach. If you are new to using movement with your students, you may need to show them some movements first.

*To build creativity, ask students for their ideas for movement. For example, in the song “It’s Christmas Time,” students have words for senses, such as hear, see, smell. I show them a picture, and ask all of my students to share an idea of how they might show these words. Then we look at the nouns, such as jingle bells, Christmas tree, and gingerbread. Can we make a pose or movement? I might say, “A few people, like Kenji and Yuta, are moving like this. Let’s try it.” Students are so proud when we choose their movement.

  1. I often have a “slow” practice by saying the words and doing the movements. Students stand on “double dots”– a place where they will stand and sing. I use two of the same colored dots or colored tape. I write down where each child will stand.
  2. DSC00021Then we speed things up with the music and the movements. I stand in front of my students and lead them in singing and moving. Model enthusiasm!
  1. Finally, we take turns. Half of the students perform while the other half becomes the audience — their mommies and daddies. The audience practices clapping. The singers practice bowing at the end. (Bend over: I see my shoes. Stand up: I see my mom and dad.)
  1. Throughout this time, you must be thinking about simple costumes that will make your song come alive. Asking students to come dressed in one solid color makes it easy to add things like a small picture hung on a ribbon around their necks, or a string of sparkly garland on their heads. If your students are getting dressed in costumes at school, make sure that everything is labeled with each child’s name.
  2. DSC_0314DSC_0312Now have a dress rehearsal. Here’s where I bring out a bunch of stuffed animals and put them on chairs. Practice introductions. Take a video and show the students. Make sure that the costumes work.
  1. Prepare a simple program. Our students often prepare their own art for the cover.
  2. Check to make sure everything is ready — music, chairs, instruments, programs, microphone, etc.
  3. Now it’s show time! Make sure that each child goes to the restroom beforehand. Give parents time to take photos and keep students calm.  Enjoy the moment!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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