I will now officially declare it the most wonderful time of the year. I do love Christmas music, but I don’t like it playing until I’ve eaten my turkey and my pie. Now with 18in of snow on the ground and Thanksgiving officially passed. I’m dreaming of those magical sing-a-longs where the Night Before Christmas was always read, music filled your ears, and hot cocoa and cookies were a plentiful. I’ll always miss those, performances were always a rewarding time. I got to see my students show off their hard work to all their family and friends. Music is so much performance anyway, each show was like the end of a chapter and beginning of another.
You might see the same show a hundred times, but its always different based on the music teacher that puts it on. We all have our different strengths, one might be good at props, one might be a master at stage movement, me? I was a pro at the digital portion. I could whip together movies, cut tracks, project in the coolest ways. It sort of upped the level of performance. I focused on the singing first and foremost but it was all up in the air after that. I had extensive experience as the Tech Director for my Mom’s Sign Language chorus she did for several years, so I took my knowledge from what I did there and experimented with my own shows.
There are 3 main categories I had of digital extras in a show: Projection, Lighting, and Audio.
Projection Ideas: It’s so easy to get creative with just a projector. Some of these ideas can translate so well into your classroom too.
- Back projection: Did you know you can flip your screen around and project backwards? No need to have that clunky projector out front and have to weave your way through the crowd to operate it in the middle of the show. Keep the projector behind stage and out of sight,put up a thin white sheet as your screen, and it will give you a cleaner image and not get into your performers eyes.
- Split screen: I did this once with a little help for a performance. Two projectors, two screens, projecting from one computer. It was fantastic, and let the audience on both sides of the room see the picture clearly without straining their necks.
- Backdrops: Instead of taking all of those hours painstakingly painting sets that may never be used again or feeling the pang of guilt asking a friend or colleague to do it for you, why not project your backdrop on to your curtains instead? Saves those long nights and you can change up the background for each song if you like!
- Black lights: You can do some pretty cools stuff with black lights and white clothes or glow in the dark paint. One year we had all white gloves and blacked out the gym, with the blacklights on, the students did a killer sign language routine just showing their gloves dancing by themselves. You can have masks, clothes, even puppets grooving along.
- Shadows: Creating an eye catching focal point by putting a screen up and having students dancing behind it. Change the colors, make it flicker, it will create a one of a kind experience.
- Cutting up tracks: A perfect way to alleviate the stress of playing piano during the actual show or trying to find an accompanist who can play at the same caliber as you can. If a song I was having the kids perform didn’t come with a backing track, throwing it into audacity and inverting one of the channels to take out or quiet down the lead vocals was always the way to go. You can find instructions here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq_i18n?s=editing&i=remove-vocals
- Remixing: Putting together medley’s, showcase student work, be able to create your own back tracks for your show. More than once did I put together student compositions to play as people were walking in and redid some classic songs to give our show a new twist!
As you go through your own holiday performances, think, can I use technology to make my life a little easier before the holiday break? Think simply, think creatively, and be festive!