On March 15, 2017, I planned and organized my students to perform in the IB and IGCSE Music and Drama Celebrations. As IB and IGCSE Students in Music and Drama, they must perform in public and be filmed/recorded as specified, but to make it more interesting for the audience, we decided to have the performances surrounded by audience members throughout the performance space.
Change in Performance Format
The performance areas included an orchestral area, a string quartet area, a piano solos/ensembles area, a band area, and finally a theatre area. The audience was engaged through questions following each act to ensure they stay focused during the performances. Performances included original work by the students across all ages.
Students even wrote works for the senior orchestra members to perform as part of their coursework requirements.
The purpose of this change would allow for more audience engagement and response to the pieces of music they heard. More and more students raised their hands to answer questions as the performance went on.
The change of performance style meant that more leg work prior to the performance needed to happen, including blocking off areas of the hall, making sure students would bring in their own pillows to sit on, having the performers prepare questions and also prepare to introduce their own pieces since the screen cannot be seen anymore.
Ordering the pieces so that there is a good flow, working within the time frame given for the performance time, and also managing the MC system now that performances are happening in all corners of the stage.
The students were told of the questions before hand, and so when it came time for the performance, the teachers and students worked together to solve the questions presented. Some questions included ‘how did the music portray the picture of a forest in this piece?’ and ‘what do you think was represented by the end of the piece?’
Primary students who came to attend the concert also participated in the Question and Answer part of the show. One of the goals of this setup was also to ensure that the younger Year 7 students would stay engaged and stay with their tutor teachers.
That was successful and all the performances were well focused on. The students enjoyed this new setup and the audience members were thoughtful in their answers to the questions.
Upon reflection, this setup was a big hit for the audience members and made it more special for the performers as well. The students had a different type of lighting this time, and it was difficult to move between sections due to the audience sitting in the middle areas. Next time we can work on better lighting inbetween the acts and perhaps not having the lights go on and off as frequently as they did.
As for the performances, they were varied and prepared and that does not need to change.
The double piano performance was a big hit as well, although it took a lot of work to arrange for the pianos to be moved and tuned in advance, while working with the PE teachers for coordinating the placement of the pianos in that hall prior to the performance time.