Thursday, December 17, 2015

Turning a Gym Into a Concert Hall

Our school was renovated about 6 years ago. Unfortunately, they demolished the stage in order to make the kitchen and cafeteria larger. All my performances must be in the gym. Not much can be done to improve the acoustics, but I have worked hard over the years to improve the aesthetics.

Here is a picture of the concert set-up before our performance this afternoon. 

Last year, the PTO raised funds to purchase 12 Wenger Flip Forms to be used as a portable stage and also as risers. I think the students feel more professional and are more focused when they sit on the stage instead of the gym floor. I have a few instruments on rolling carts which remained on the gym floor behind the stage, along with two basses which use chairs to sit. 

The black curtain backdrop is actually 4 king size flat sheets sewn together. A parent volunteer created these and sewed button holes in the top. We used individual binder rings to loop them into an industrial steel wire which was installed by our maintenance department.  The curtain can easily be pushed over to a corner when not in use. It does collect dust very easily, but I simply take a lint roller to spot clean before any performance. 

For this performance, I used safety pins to hang snowflakes as a decoration. I borrowed from the PTO. They have lots of decorations which are used to make our lunchroom festive for the Sweets With Santa event each year. 

The projector and screen were installed with money from the renovation. I make a slide for each song and also a slide to introduce the Orff Ensemble and the Choir. If I use audio tracks to accompany the choir, I embed them into the Powerpoint so that they play immediately when the slide is advanced. Since I can't dim the lights, I choose contrasting colors and a large font to make sure the words can be read well. I also test slides in the gym a few days before and make adjustments if needed. 

If you also have to perform in a gym, I would love to see how you transform your space into a performance hall. You may follow this link to Facebook to add your pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

DIY Flameless Candles

At the last minute, I decided I would like to have a prop for one of the choir songs. I wanted the students to hold a candle during "One Little Candle". I ran to the Dollar Tree and picked up some LED flickering tea lights. They came 2 in each pack for $1. During dress rehearsal, I realized the candles were too short and the audience would not be able to see the candles in the middle and back risers. I used some cardstock to form a cylinder to elongate the candles. The flame still seems small, but it worked for a last minute prop. Follow my simple instructions below to create your own.

Step 1: Gather materials--tape, pencil, scissors, LED tealight, and heavy construction paper or cardstock. 

Step 2: Roll the paper to form a cylinder   The same size diameter as the tealight. 

Step 3: Secure the paper with tape. This will be the back of the candle. 

Step 4: Mark a line about an inch long on the tape just below the base of the tealight. 

Step 5: Cut two vertical slits down to meet the edges of the pencil line. Fold along the pencil line to make a tab that leans into the center of the cylinder. 

Step 6: Turn the tealight on and place it in the top of the cylinder. The tab should prevent it from slipping too far down the center of the cylinder and also make it easy to access the tealight to turn it on or off.