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At the beginning of my first year of teaching, I got a great idea. We should do an elementary musical.
I needed some microphones, applied for a grant, and forgot about it.
And then I got the grant. And because it was now January and I was significantly more worn out than I was in September, I thought, “Great, now we have to do a musical.”
An elementary musical.
Great idea, Becca.
I am actually really glad that we did it. It ended up being really great—the students were really into it. They did a wonderful job, and it was fun for me too. Some days, rehearsal was the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.
On the way, I learned a lot, because when I started I knew NOTHING. Like, nothing at all about an elementary musical.
So none of these things are from a textbook or wonderful pedogogy. These are all things that I learned on my own. I hope that they help you!
If you are curious, we did this musical: It’s a Jungle Out There. It was perfect– 30 minutes long, catchy songs, lots of different parts. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are new to directing musicals. I liked it so much I ordered a new one for this year: Once Upon a Lily Pad.
1. Do Hold Auditions
For some reason, in elementary schools, teachers are hesitant to hold auditions.
Why should you hold auditions? It makes it more fair, prevents favoritism, and surprises you.
Y’all. There was so much talent in my choir that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. Some of the people that did the best were complete shocks to me.
I was truly impressed by how well the auditions went. I was so glad that I made them audition.
I used a song that we had just performed, so they already knew it well enough to be comfortable singing it. I had them do it in front of each other, to make sure that they would be ok in front of people.
But make sure that you talk to the students about how the auditions will go, and how to be proper audience members. I used a point system, and told them that any rude comments, laugh, etc, would take a point off of their audition score.
I have a post coming about auditions, so make sure to subscribe so you do not miss it!
2. Do Plan Rehearsals
This was something I was so relieved about. I went through each rehearsal and wrote down what I wanted us to go through each time. And I was so glad I did, because it helped us stay on track, and ensured that we had enough time to do everything.
It doesn’t have to be crazy (like Monday we will work on measures 1-5 of this song….) but just general. Like: on Monday we will work on the second song and learn the words to the third song.
Just make sure your expectations are realistic.
3. Do be Creative with Rehearsal Times
School schedules can be crazy, so it is helpful to be creative with rehearsal times. During rehearsal season, we did have after school rehearsals. I sometimes kept kids during my lunch (after testing was over, so their teachers would relinquish control!), before school, etc. All of these little times helped add up to students who knew their stuff.
Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room
4. Do Draft Other People
You will be surprised about how much talent there is in school. I could not have done the musical without help.
I only had one person who helped with rehearsals—not many rehearsals, but anything is helpful. What I found most helpful were the people that helped with costumes and sets. People found random things all over the school that were so helpful when it came to costumes and sets.
I also got someone to help run lines during recess, which added some more help to the arsenal.
Ask if you can make an announcement during a staff meeting or send an email asking people for help. You will be surprised. One of our teachers had a degree in Theater—and I had no clue!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it is difficult, but do it anyway.
5. Have fun!
Both you and the kids need to remember to have fun. Rehearsal get stressful, kids get tired, but if you are not having fun, it will not be fun. And if they are not having fun, it will show.
To have fun, try switching up the activities part of the way through. Usually about halfway through, I would have them sing and dance however they want to our songs, or have them get into groups to work on their lines. The change of pace helps to keep things fun.
Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning
Have you ever had an elementary musical? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!