January 16, 2016 by morningcamequickly
You know, you can try and do everything yourself to get a musical production together, but folks you are going to run yourself in the ground. The musical is probably a big part of your job. No pressure, but hundreds or even thousands of people are going to judge you and the job you do based on the one performance they see. This is not the same as a classroom teacher giving a standardized test and the results being mailed home over the summer. This is a public performance…LIVE. So, how are you going to manage that reality and get everything done? You need to build yourself a team. Here are 5 tips for building a successful musical production team.
- Select a drama director and choreographer who you are comfortable with. Again, you can’t do it all. Teaching all of the music is a big enough job. And, unless you were trained in theatre and dance, you just don’t have the skill set to do all this well. My students have seen me dance (you know, the celebratory, “I can’t believe you sang it right” sort of dances behind the piano) and I always add, “Aren’t you glad I’m not the choreographer for the show?”!
- If you have a volunteer, use them. Ever heard of a teacher complaining of having too many volunteers? Of course not. If you have a willing heart, you need to use them. Allow people to work in an area that is comfortable for them. They know their talents best. Plan for the future and allow parents with younger kids to shadow team leaders so they learn the ropes and can eventually take over.
- Allow parents to co-chair an area. You know how kids form close bonds with other kids in the music program? Chances are that parents do the same thing. Allow them to work together and share responsibility. It is no harder to send an email to one person, than it is to add in two other email addresses. A lot of parents really enjoy a lot of behind the scenes stuff.
- Communicate expectations up front. When you are advertising among parents and teachers what help you need, tell them what they will have to do. You don’t have to include every single detail, but an overview of the expected job can help them decide if they have the skills to manage the job.
- Once you have your leaders, recruit as many other helpers for each of them. Check back at tip #2. You need to build future leaders, so get others involved. You will also find that some parents don’t want to lead, but boy are they some hard workers and ready to just do what you ask them to without question.
I’m really lucky, PK is my drama director. Trained in NYC at AMDA he loves theatre and takes the huge burden of blocking and developing characters off of my shoulders. The musical really becomes a family affair as my kids pitch in to help too. I was also fortunate to find a choreographer who has great ideas and works well with the kids.
When I started my job, a team of parents was already in place. As things got rolling, I encouraged parents to help where they wanted to. After all, I told them, I didn’t know what they had done before so I didn’t have them pegged for anything. I think this gave them the freedom and flexibility to really get into an are they liked. You know you don’t want grumpy workers! These parents have been full of great ideas and really help to bring the show alive. Without their help, I’d be swamped.
Whether a parent ends up being a team leader or a helper within the team, they are all a big part in helping to make your school show a huge success. Again, if you try to do it all, you will be wiped out three months before opening night. You need to take care of yourself and spread out the responsibility. Remember the show isn’t about you and your work. It’s about the students and their success and memories and friendships.