Finishing Strong

August 2, 2017

Strap in.

It happens every year . . . you take the floor for the first show of the season; you push like mad to get the whole show on the floor; you begin refining and cleaning, and then boom . . . out of nowhere, you’re staring down the last few weeks of the season.

Here are some tips to help make the most of the most important part of the year.

With Your Students

  • Encourage them to soak up every moment; it goes by more quickly than they’ll anticipate.
  • Remind them to end the season with no regrets (leave nothing in reserve).
  • Emphasize that these will be the last times this particular group of students will ever perform and rehearse together. This is a galvanizing revelation for most.
  • Begin (or continue) to emphasize “big picture” concepts with them.
    • Don’t belabor details the way you did when you learned and defined the show. Continue to ask them to be vigilant about all the details of their individual performance, but shift the emphasis to macro ideas, whole phrases and movements, horizontal communication, and prolonged audience engagement.
  • Keep things positive and upbeat.
    • Some portions and segments may not end up the way you originally wanted them to; become comfortable with that and don’t let it sour the whole experience for either you or your students.
  • De-emphasize the competitive aspects of the end of the season (if we’re only successful by winning, most will go home losers) and elevate the importance of personal excellence and the fulfillment of individual and/or ensemble potential.

 

With Your Show

  • Assess the state of your show from beginning to end
    • What are your greatest strengths? What are your biggest weaknesses? Does it “work” all the way through? Does it connect the way you want it to? Where should the bulk of your time and effort be spent?
  • Don’t get bogged down in details. At this point in the season the forest is much more important than the trees.
  • Eliminate the negatives.
    • Sometimes simply taking frequently problematic elements out of the show can make a big difference. Don’t over-think troubleshooting.
  • Stand back. Evaluate your program from new angles.
  • Concentrate on the ending.

 

With Your Staff

  • Impress upon them the importance of remaining consistent.
    • Many try to make a host of changes late in the season; this is often counterproductive.
  • Remind them to echo the macro and “big picture” focus.
  • Take pictures, record videos, have fun, document everything. You’ll thank me later.

 

With Your Parents

  • Bring them into the fold as much as possible. Make them a part of the process.
  • Thank them regularly for their support; it goes a long way.

 

With Your Peers

  • Celebrate other ensembles and programs
  • Congratulate peers on their accomplishments
  • Learn from others
  • Encourage your students to do the same (and lead by example)

 

The final few weeks are always the most memorable part of the year, for everyone involved with your program. Push yourself, your staff, your parents, and your students to achieve more than they previous thought possible, but try to keep everyone focused on realistic and attainable goals. Enjoy the process and make the most out of every moment. It’ll be over before you know it.