How To Create A Smashing Sing-Along With Your Orchestra
A sing-along orchestra performance is a great way to gain community involvement for your show. Whether you want to boost donations or get an infusion of volunteers in your school, a sing-along provides parents and other children with a great way to engage with the orchestra that more classical music styles may not provide. Here are a few tips on putting together a sing-along with your orchestra that will really hit the mark.
Choose a Theme
Any good sing-along needs a great theme. The most successful sing-alongs will focus on a specific film or musical that is already familiar to your audience. For instance, during the holidays, Handel's Messiah is a great opportunity for the audience to join in. In addition, choosing a musical like The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, or The Wizard of Oz is a good place to start. For younger children, a Disney movie like The Lion King or Pocahontas will give you plenty of familiar music to choose from.
Start Picking Songs
Once you have a score picked out, or even just a theme, you can start to narrow down which songs you want on your list. You need a good variety to work with. In addition, you want songs that feature different tempos and playing styles so each of your audience members can find something to love. If you are following a popular musical or movie, the songs are probably already in an order that takes the crowd up and down through emotional highs and lows.
Provide the Lyrics
While we may all be familiar with your chosen sing-along songs, most people don't know every word. The best way to pull off a great sing-along is to put the lyrics to each song up on a projector screen so that everyone can participate. This goes a long way toward giving people the confidence they need to go for it. Make sure that your text is legible and the lines are broken up in a way that makes it easy to keep up with the pace of the music. Of course, you can also pass out sheets of lyrics as well.
Invite the Choir
Another great way to bring energy to your sing-along is to have your choir participate as well. They can be on stage, or they can sit with the audience and encourage those around them to join in. The more kids get involved, the more parents will be at the show. Your choir can even add to the music with special effects and odd instruments that accent the music. If you really want to go all out, your theatre department may want to get involved with costumes, set designs, and more.
Make Sure Your Host is Full of Energy
When parents arrive at an orchestra event they plan for an evening of just listening. If you want to knock your sing-along out of the park, consider having a host who can get everyone in the room up to speed right away and excited to join in. Whoever is doing the talking needs to build the energy in the room and let parents know that this is an open invitation to jump in whenever they like.
Plan Some Musical Interludes
Your students will have practiced to play all the way through the show without a break. However, your audience will not be as prepared. As you plan out your music for the evening, make sure you add a few musical interludes and breaks that will give people time to recover between songs. Otherwise, you might lose your engagement halfway through when everyone's voices tire out – or they need a bathroom break!
Have Snacks and Drinks Ready
Concessions can be a part of your fundraising effort, but having water on hand is a great way to ensure everyone keeps singing throughout the show. Don't forget snacks to keep the energy level up throughout the performance.
These steps should have you well on your way to planning your first sing-along event for your orchestra. If you aren't sure which theme to choose, put it up for a vote with your students and give them a chance to show you which songs they most want to play and sing. With a little bit of planning, you can get your whole school involved.
Top photo: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's sing-along to Hayden's The Creation, courtesy of cbso.co.uk