Tuesday, 27 March, 2018 - 14:15

End of camp concert – usually in the form of a talent quest – is a highlight for many students and teachers. We offer our top tips to ensure your camp concert is one to remember.

Our tips for a top concert

Camp is coming to an end, but there’s still one big event to go – camp concert!

The school camp concert is a favourite among teachers and students alike. It’s a chance to relax, unwind, get creative and show a different side of ourselves. And teachers can get in on the fun too. Know how to juggle? Love singing your own compositions? Tap dance in your spare time? Now is the time to strut your stuff, bond with your students, and have a laugh at the same time.

A well run concert will keep everyone enthralled from start to finish. But like all well run operations, it takes a little planning and lots of practice beforehand.

Quick Tip - Stagger your acts so singers are interspersed with dancers, performers and musicians. This will keep interest levels high.

Costume magic

Half the fun of camp concert night is letting creative juices flow – and that means costumes, fake moustaches, glasses, wigs, make up, glitter and funny hair. In the weeks leading up to camp, ask students to start thinking about their act – and what costumes and props they might need. If you have time in the lead up to camp, set aside a couple of hours to make masks, posters and other simple props. Or, this can be a fun evening activity the night before camp concert. If your school has the resources, it’s a great idea to collect and store a ‘bank’ of costumes, wigs, magic wands and hats that can be used from year to year. Remember – the bigger the costume trunk, the more opportunity for students to be creative and have fun.

Practice makes perfect

Your camp concert will run more smoothly if you work out key logistics long before the curtain is raised. Where will acts wait until it’s their turn? Who will work out what props will be needed for each act, and how they will get to where they need to be? Who will be in charge of stopping and starting the music? Who will keep track of time for each act? Will you have a half time break with refreshments? If yes, what will you serve and who will serve it? Who will be in charge of making sure students are ready for their act? Who will help younger students with costumes/make up/wigs? Will you have winners? If yes, how will the winner be judged? Who will be responsible for clean up?

Backstage buddies

Not everyone wants to be in the limelight. If you have students who steadfastly don’t want to perform in the camp concert, or can’t because of cultural or other considerations, ask if they’d like to form part of the ‘concert support’ team. They can get to work on designing posters and flyers, serving refreshments during the concert break, helping with set-up between acts, writing songs or acting as a costume director.

Teacher talent

Students love to see teachers joining in the fun, so if you have a budding singer/dancer or performer amongst the camp teaching team, consider adding them to the performance list (with their permission, of course!). This is a great opportunity to encourage shy students to join in the fun; they can act as back-up singers or actors in role play with the teacher as the ‘lead’ performer.

Mine host

Behind every good concert is a good emcee. Rather than emcee the evening yourself, ask an outgoing student to act as host. Better still, employ an outgoing student duo – one student with the maturity and confidence to announce the acts, and the other to pepper the time between acts with jokes and small talk (which in turn will allow stage hands time to setup for the next act). Encourage the emcees to dress up with costumes and hats to add another element of fun and drama to concert night.

Check 1,2

If you have time in the afternoon, run a dress (and technical equipment) concert rehearsal. Get students to quickly run through their acts in sequential order, so that students on the support team know when to get the music going, plug in a microphone or add a stage prop. Encourage the support team to write reminder notes for each act, so that they can ‘prompt’ students if they forget their lines, get stage fright or lose their way during the ‘live’ show. Now is also the time to give the sound system a final check, decorate the stage and set up lights and seating.

Think outside the square

Your school camp concert can be as creative as you allow. If the traditional singing/dancing/musical instrument performances leave some students cold, suggest they think outside the square and consider a magic act, a comedy routine, hula hooping, basketball or soccer tricks, a gymnastics performance, juggling or a poetry or short story recital. You can also encourage students to share music, dance and traditions related to their cultural heritage.

Wired for sound

Good sound needs a good sound system. If your school doesn’t have a sound system you can use for camp, ring camp management to see if they have a sound system on site. If not, consider hiring or borrowing one for a few days.

Practice makes perfect

A poorly organised concert will soon see students’ interest and engagement wane. And as any teacher well knows, bored students will start mucking up. So set some time aside at school or in the days (or even hours) leading up to the concert for practice. If you see that certain acts are having trouble, help students adapt and modify their performance. The more confidently students can perform, the better the show.

Double act

Do you have two students who want to perform a recorder, voice or guitar solo? Suggest they perform as a duo – it will cut down on repetition and keep the concert moving along. It’s also an ideal way to encourage shyer students to get involved. Or, get all your musical students together and see if they want to create a ‘band’ for the night.

Short and sweet

Camp concert is traditionally held on the final night of camp. It’s a great way to farewell a wonderful camp, but keep in mind that many students many be tired from the preceding few days. The secret to keeping everyone engaged during concert night is to keep the program rolling along – which means short and sweet presentations. Time presentations during practice sessions, and guide students on how they can cut excess time off their act if necessary. A good idea on the night is to have a member of the camp concert support team stand to one side of the stage with a stop watch and let students know when their ‘time up’ is nearing.

At the end of the day, your camp concert will be as individual as your student group.

The secret to success is not necessarily in polished performances, but rather because everyone – including teacher and parent supervisors – had fun organising and performing in the concert.

So don’t obsess about getting it ‘right’. Instead, concentrate on keeping things simple, spontaneous, fun and enjoyable for everyone. A successful concert night will come through enjoyment, preparation and confidence.

Hot Tip - For your school camp concerts - If you want a truly professional show, supply the support team with lyrics and words – so that if a student forgets their lines on stage, they can be prompted to continue.