Yup. Backwards. When I first started having to do concerts, I was super caught up in picking music, then picking parts, then picking this and that, etc. But I never saw where I was going. After a couple times through the wringer, and a few years feeling panicked about the deadlines, I started something new. Planning backwards. So let’s talk about how to plan a concert backwards.

It’s like curriculum planning

When you plot your curriculum, you start with the end goals in mind. What do you want your students to know at the end? What do you need them to be able to do? With a concert, you do need to have some goals when you start planning, but they can be similar. What do you want the performance to look like? What do you want them to do/play/sing/dance/etc? Answer these and then start looking for music.

Pick your music

Once you have your goals, pick your music. Pick the theme, the non-theme, the musical or whatever you’re doing. Now you are ready to go backwards! For help with that sort of planning, check out this post.

Set Your Dates

  • Pick your concert date
  • When you want to start polishing material
  • To start teaching choreography if you have any
  • When something memorized (break down big songs to things like refrains, verses, transitions, etc)
  • For when you want to have the correct words down while looking at the lyrics
  • For when you need costumes/sets/props ready to go.
  • To find teacher/parent help.
  • When you need the program ready to go.
  • To request things like custodians, tech, accompanists, etc
  • Setting auditions, distributing music, sending out letters, reminders, etc
  • Prepping a day of bag/supplies/outfit and backups for things that might go wrong.
  • Teaching students your non-verbal cues for what you night need to communicate in the moment.
  • Ordering shirts/distributing uniforms, etc

Set your dates. and plot them in the calendar starting with what needs to be done LAST. EX: Schedule the concert, the program printing, the program proofreading, then the memorization, the introduction of the song in that order. When you do this, you’ve given yourself a deadline and know when you need to start the previous step to get there.

Your calendar will be backed up 2 to 3 months. And it should be. The more involved the concert, like a musical, the more backed up it will feel.

Once you have everything in a calendar, write it down in order with due date in the margin or on the left so you can easily scroll through it. Post it in your room, put it on a clip board, or leave it on your desk to easily look at when you are planning lessons every week. Even though I’m a fairly digital person, I like this list on paper so I can cross off things!

The key to this is making sure you give yourself enough time to do the task correctly, fully, and without needing to extend deadlines. This might mean that you give yourself three weeks to work on a task when it may only take students two. You build in extra practice time, can move ahead, or add in other activities but the students will be ready. And you’ll take into account things like snow days, field trips, or something else that may pop up.

If you need some serious lists to help you plan, check out my Music Teacher Checklists with a huge list of pre-concert tasks.

I hope this has given you a few ideas on planning your concerts backwards!

Melissa Stouffer-1

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