The First Rule of Public Performance.



Early in my teaching career, we used to bring all of a particular kind of group together for a singular concert. All the bands would play or all the choruses or Both! As my program grew and these concerts started pushing 1 ½ – 2 hours, I started hearing about them, not directly from parents but through the kids. I would be sharing the dates of all the concerts at the beginning of the year and the students would ask “Is that the one that lasts like 2 hours” and comments like “its so hot”, and “it goes on forever” would spontaneously erupt throughout the room. After one particularly long concert on the hottest day of the year in gym, I decided something had to change. We began by limiting the length of the songs for each group. That pared down our longest concert to an hour and 15 minutes. (9 groups limited to 6 minutes each – throw in set up changes and talking…..)


This brings me to the First Rule of Public Performance.


Always leave the audience wanting more.

You never want the audience saying “Oh my God, When is it Going to End”.


Following this simple rule will also improve any public speaking event: ie. power point presentations. Any time you have a “captive” audience, I guarantee, if you leave them Wanting More – you will have a much happier audience. Wouldn’t it be great to present to people who will actually want to see you again?

Meet your audience where they are and take them with you on a joy ride.


Seems simple, but many times we forget that not everyone in the room is an expert in our professional field, so how do you make that exciting? Even a short presentation will drag when most of the room is lost.


Is it late in day? Is everyone walking in exhausted and dragging? Are they excited and chatty? Do they Have to be there? Notice and take stock then……


Meet your audience where they are and take them with you on a joy ride. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and even if they are not into the subject matter, they can still be into YOU. Be Infectious. People like to be around a good time, so Be The Party!


The Joy of ½ hour concert!


I recently finished a two night run of choral concerts. 2 different Groups per night each performing about 15 minutes of music laced with choreography, solos, small groups, and high energy middle school antics. These shows started promptly at 5:30pm and by 6:05 I was shaking hands with over-joyed parents who absolutely loved the show. These are busy professionals who love seeing their children singing, dancing, and smiling. They love hearing them sound amazing. They love being entertained. We all know what it is like to sit through a dragging lifeless performance, so I make a special effort to make my concerts entertaining. After all, it is a show! So I treat it like one. Would I want to come to see this?


Unfortunately, many new musicians and music teachers think of their show last or not at all. This is a huge mistake in my opinion. This is YOUR ADVERTISING and YOUR PUBLIC EVALUATION. A Great Concert isn’t just about how it Sounds. It is also about how it Looks. So, take the time to figure out the Logistics. When is set up and sound check, make sure the gear and lights are working, if you have a paper program – proof read it so every student’s name is spelled right, what is your group going to wear, how are you going to line up and walk on and off, how and when will you take a bow…….


I’ll share my trick for group bowing – I stand to one side of the group and with my right hand I cue the bow – as we are bowing down we are thinking “Did I shine my Shoes Today” and then on the way up we are thinking “Yes, I shined my Shoes Today”. Put that to a groovy rhythm and have the kids say it a few times out loud while you practice. A concise bow from a group is like the cherry on top, it’s a small touch but the impression is big and yummy, especially if the performance was really tight.


For your next concert how are you going to leave them wanting more?


Share your ideas and comment!


Thank You for reading!