How To Organise Your Own (Charity) School Concert

With the festive season coming up, now is the perfect time to organise a celebratory gig for a great cause 🙂

Warning: This is a long and detailed post (1,703 words), so if you’re ready to put on a killer concert, you’d better buckle up!

After organising my own solo recital last year and performing in several of my friends’ shows for charity, I have learnt quite a lot about how to put on a good concert! Whether it’s a classical music recital, a gig or a dance show, there is are a few behind-the-scenes steps that might cause stress when organising, especially if this is your first time.

Here is a step-by-step guide to organising your own concert at school!

1. Pick a Time

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Choosing the right time sets the tone for your concert.

Most concerts start late when people have had time to go home and eat dinner – 7 pm or later is a good time to start. A late concert or gig is usually easier to prepare for, so it’s easier to make it higher quality and/or more serious.

Afternoon concerts are also possible but bear in mind some people may not be free after school. Also, it leaves you less time to set up.

A lunchtime concert is good for encouraging students and teachers to attend, but parents may find it difficult to come. Bear in mind you may have to sacrifice some of your lunch time to set up, and some people may not be willing to do this!

2. Pick a Date

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Make sure your venue is able to let you have your concert on that date!

It should be far enough ahead to give people notice for them to organise practise sessions, sort accompanists and put their acts together. You yourself will probably also need enough time to make sure everything’s in order!

Depending on the workload people have and the quality you want for your concert, at least a month in advance is usually a good amount of time for people to prepare an act.

If you want to guarantee that more people can come, pick a Friday night but it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes a weekday gig is what people want so that they can look forward to it!

Make sure that it is a date where you can book out the school hall or wherever you want to hold the concert. Find the person who schedules these things and ask! Book the hall for the time you have specified above, and if you’re organising a pop gig, an earlier slot of about 2 hours (depending on how many acts you want, see below) so that you can fit in a sound check before the concert.

3. Organise Acts

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Find a way of contacting people who you think would be interested in performing, whether it be through email, Facebook, a bulletin message, through teachers – it doesn’t matter so long as it gets your concert noticed. Make sure you give them a way of contacting you and set a deadline for acts to sign up!

Here’s an example message:

I’m organising a *concert/gig/show* on the *insert date* and I’m looking for *bands/singers/musicians/dancers* to perform. *Put some information about the concert here: for example, if it’s for charity or where it will be*. If you’re interested, *contact/email/message* me on *email address/whatever*.

If you want, you can even ask some extroverted friends to be the hosts for the night!

Once people reply to your message, give them all information about the time, sound checks, accompanist contact details and dress code if it applies. You can also ask them to ask their friends and family to come along!

4. Backstage Crew

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No concert can be pulled off effectively without a backstage crew – this is where your friends come in.

Make sure you have some people on the special effects and tech stuff – the sound (including microphones, backing music, sound effects etc.) and lighting. The sound check rehearsal is the time to get the balance, amplifiers, lighting and effects sorted out. If the concert goes well, nobody will notice the tech crew but if the tech doesn’t work, everyone will. Make sure that they get their appropriate praise too!

You can also get some people to film your concert for you, but to make sure they have the best angles ask them to come along for the sound check as well.

Secondly, make sure you have some as the stage crew. You want to make the transitions between the acts as smooth as possible, so in the sound check rehearsal, get each act to tell the stage crew what they want on stage and where. Also, make sure that they know not to wear anything too flashy – you don’t want them stealing the show from the acts!

Communication is the key to a successful concert.

5. Money Matters

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Usually, your school will let you use the hall for free. If you are doing a charity concert, you can either sell tickets (the safer bet) or just tell people to turn up and pass around a hat to collect money afterwards. You may have to ask someone about whether you are allowed to sell tickets for a school concert.

Ticket pricing for a school concert can vary anything from £5 – £15, but you can also give a discount for concessions (younger people/students).

If you really want to go for it, you can ask a suitable company to sponsor your concert in exchange for some advertisements in your programme.

6. Programmes

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Whilst you’re getting your programme printed, you can ask for posters to be printed too.

Your concert can last anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours – you can decide. Depending on how long each act is (supposing each act is 4 minutes long and leaving 1 minute for the changeover between acts) you will need between 6 acts for a 30-minute gig and 30 acts for a 2-hour concert. Once you have got replies from your acts, you can start organising them into an order and figuring out how long it will take (roughly) and printing a programme.

If your concert runs over about 80 minutes, it might be a good idea to insert a 20-minute interval. If it’s for charity, you can ask some helpers to bake cakes and bring juice and other refreshments to sell during the interval, so that you can raise even more money!

For the programmes, make sure you have all the information you need in it and that the acts are in the correct order before you send it to be printed off. Make sure to include things like:

  • the name of the piece
  • the singer/dancer/band name
  • the composer (birth and death dates included)/artist/choreographer
  • any programme notes you want to make on the pieces and the composers
  • information about the charity
  • acknowledgements (accompanists, technicians, sponsoring companies, your friends who have helped)

When you are sending the programmes to be printed (preferably at school) check that they are the right format and you’ve got the right information printed in! It might be easier to have them printed A5. Depending on the size of your concert, you need to have enough copies printed out. For example, a small, 1-hour concert will probably only need 50 maximum.

Whilst you’re sending the programmes off, you can also send for posters promoting your concert to be printed off too! If you want, you can use this template (also below) to promote your concert.

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7. A Week Before the Concert…

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Get the rehearsal time you need.

  1. Send out an email to the performers to remind them of the concert, time, equipment they need to bring, dress code and sound check rehearsal. It’s a good idea to tell them to arrive 15-20 minutes before the concert starts (so that everything runs smoothly!)
  2. Make sure the programmes are printed, up to date and ready to be distributed.
  3. Put up the posters around your school and even in town! I found that blu-tack wasn’t strong enough usually so use something like masking tape on glass and plastic. Be careful when using it on painted walls or doors because they could leave some horrible sticky bits once peeled off!
  4. Promote your concert via Facebook, bulletin, teachers, word of mouth and any other ways you can think of. All for a good cause!
  5. Get your fundraising boxes, cakes and refreshments for the interval etc. ready for the big day.
  6. Get an idea of how many people will be coming so that you know how many chairs and stalls to set up.

8. The Day of the Concert

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Relax and enjoy!

The sound check will probably be the most stressful thing before your concert. Make sure you stay calm and have people to whom you can delegate tasks: for example, someone to run the tech team and someone else to run the backstage team. Be ready to make notes in your copy of the programme because things never turn out as planned!

If you need to set up the chairs and stalls, arrive 45 minutes to an hour early because some parents like to arrive 15-30 minutes early so that they can get the best seats (so it’s a good idea to have the seats already set up). Make sure that the backstage crew and the tech crew know what they are doing, and thank them as well!

Have a couple of people at the door checking tickets as people enter and handing out programmes. They should also have some spare tickets in their pocket (if it’s not sold out) so that they can sell some tickets at the door to forgetful parents.

If you are also the host, say how wonderful the previous act was and introduce the next act so that you can give the backstage crew some time to set up. Say a few words about the charity or composer or give some context to the piece if you want. At the end of the concert, thank everyone you need to acknowledge, including the crews, your friends, helpful teachers and whoever let you use the printer/hall.

Above all, relax – everyone is there to support you, so enjoy it!

I hope this post was a thorough run through of everything you need for a concert – if I’ve missed anything, let me know! Have you ever organised an event like this? Did you know so much effort went into just organising a school concert? Let me know in the comments!

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