8 Ideas to Try After a Concert
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Eight Creative Ideas to Try After a Concert

May 2024 – It was time for another update!

There have been a lot of posts on social media from music teachers asking for suggestions on what to do with the time after a concert, of what to do when class is disrupted because of testing. So, if either of these scenarios resonate with you, or if you are just looking for something different to try during music class, here are five ideas that will motivate learners, tap into creativity, and help you move towards a more learner-centered environment.

8 ideas to try after a concert


Reflecting is an invaluable tool that we do not use enough – with our students or as teachers – but the fact is, it’s essential for a learner-centered environment. If reflecting is not already a part of your routine, following a concert or performance is a great time to add it. Students should reflect not only on their performance but also on their preparations leading up to it and how it will impact their future learning. This process of “thinking about thinking” is known as metacognition. It allows students to take their learning to the next level.

If your students are new to reflection, begin with sentence starters to as guidance.

  • “I was good at_____.”
  • “Next time I might_____.”
  • “I still struggle with______.”

You could also try providing students with graphic organizers such as a PMI chart: Plus, Minus, and Interesting. Students fill in items for each category. Remember – when reflecting, thinking about the process is just as important as the product.

For more ideas on how to incorporate reflection in your music classes as well as free downloads, check out these resources:

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey

Student Leaders

violin students lead the class

For many teachers, especially those with ensembles, most of our rehearsal time is teacher directed. After a concert is a great time to try giving students the opportunity to stand in front of the ensemble. I have had students conduct our performance pieces, run warm-ups, teach new skills, or introduce lines from the method book. And they love it! Students should have their voices heard, and allowing them time in front of the ensemble gives them a new appreciation for how an ensemble works outside of their sections.

Learn more ways to incorporate student leaders here: Use Student Leaders to Empower Your Musicians.


The Makerspace movement has been finding its way into classrooms around the world, but how many music teachers have tried it? A Makerspace project is an excellent choice for a day when playing instruments is not an option. For those that are new to the Makerspace concept, it is primarily intended for students to create, invent, and learn. Some Makerspaces are very involved, including things like 3D printers, electronics, and computer software. Others are more simple and contain found objects and art supplies, such as cardboard tubes, rubber bands, string, etc.

One year, I created a Makerspace Instrument Challenge for my students using everyday materials and recyclables. Their task was to create an instrument that could produce a sound. Students had 5 minutes to look at the materials and plan their instruments, 1 minute to “shop” for materials, and 10 minutes to create. I enjoyed watching the students work, and their creativity was evident throughout the project. Here are the project details: Makerspace Instrument Challenge. I guarantee you will love the results! Pair this with an exploration of sound or instruments families to make it a more cohesive unit. For more ideas and a free download, check out the Makerspace Challenge from Pass the Baton.


I love having students work on composition projects. Composing is an essential part of being a musician. It’s also another way to build creativity and give students ownership of their music making. There are many ways to do this. Start by thinking about the skills and techniques students have been working on in class. Then, encourage students to compose a melody based on those concepts. For example, students could compose a melody based on a specific scale or rhythmic pattern.

Mash-up Compositions

A mash-up composition takes several existing musical ideas and reworks them into one. For student musicians, this could mean anything from mashing short melodies from a method book, or simple, well-known folk songs. One benefit to a mash-up project, as a first composition project, is that students are seeing and copying the music notation correctly. It forces them to follow the rules of music notation, which doesn’t always happen with young musicians.

A Snowball Fight

Looking for a quick and easy composition activity? The Snowball Fight has always been a favorite for my students! The basic idea of a snowball fight is that students create something together, so multiple students contribute to the final product. This allows individuals to focus on small parts, rather than a larger whole. It’s a fun activity that you can use in a variety of musical settings. Learn more about the Snowball Fight and how to use it in your music classes here: How to have a snowball fight.

The LAUNCH Cycle

One year, I took my composition project in another direction and incorporated a Design Thinking strategy, the LAUNCH Cycle, by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. The finished products had some similarities to previous years, but using the LAUNCH Cycle, students started the process with empathy and conclude by receiving peer feedback and making revisions based on that feedback. This document explains the details of the project: Music Composition Project – Using the LAUNCH Cycle.

Teaching Composition Through Performance

The Teaching Composition Through Performance series was created by composer Jodie Blackshaw. It’s a great way to get kids thinking, creating, and performing during rehearsals! There are resources for students of all ages and abilities. I definitely recommend checking it out!

Creating Accompaniments

Students work together to create accompaniments in GarageBand

Student-created accompaniments are another fun, creative way to engage students in the weeks after a concert! Using GarageBand, or a similar tool like Soundtrap or BandLab, have students create accompaniments or backing tracks for songs they play on their instrument or sing. For example, my students in band and orchestra learn a lot of folk songs. These simple songs they can both sing and play were perfect to add accompaniments.

Students first created a drum beat to accompany one of their favorite songs. Next, with my help, the students created a bass line. They loved it! The students said they felt like professional musicians. We even had the students record themselves playing along with this backing track, so they had a final product from the activity. It was great for the students to experience the different backgrounds and experiment with what they thought sounded good. They could adjust things like style and tempo, making the piece their own. And the benefit for me was that as a result, they ended up playing the song multiple times throughout the class as they experimented. This activity would work best with small groups, each group having a device. I could see it also working with a large group and one device, but you would not have as many students involved in creating.

Recruiting and Promoting

Most music teachers have to recruit students or promote music department events at some point. Why not have students help? These could be a low-tech or high-tech projects!

  • Students can create posters, promoting upcoming events or music activities. Encourage students to incorporate descriptive, yet brief, details about why someone would want to attend or participate. They could do this on poster board or using a design program such as CanvaGoogle Draw or Adobe Express.
  • Students can create promo videos advertising events or activities. Videos can be more descriptive than posters. There are many video creation programs, such as WeVideo and iMovie. iMovie even has a built-in “Movie Trailer” feature, which is fun to use.
  • Students can create videos encouraging younger students to join the band, orchestra, chorus, or any other ensemble. This would be a great project to use Flipgrid, since each student could contribute their own video to a larger work.

There are many directions you could take a project like this, it just depends on your goals and timeline. It is important that whatever students create, you use! And make sure students know this. Projects with an authentic audience are most meaningful to students.

Inquiry Projects

Inquiry can sometimes seem like another edu-buzz word, but I see its value in education today. In fact, when Kathryn Finch and I wrote about the Qualities of an Empowered Music Student we specified “asks questions” as one quality! An easy way I’m incorporating inquiry this year is through a Wonder Wall in the classroom. Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt introduced this idea in their book, “Inquiry Mindset.” The Wonder Wall is a place in the classroom where students can contribute their musical questions! After the concert, we will dedicate some class time for students to research, experiment, and dive deeper into their musical wonderings.

Genius Hour

“Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.” A.J. Juliani

Building off student inquiry, Genius Hour is an opportunity for students to work on something that interests them. Something they are passionate about, or something they wonder. In music, especially ensembles, students are usually working on music chosen by the director. With a genius hour project, that is not the case. The students get to pick what they learn, research and create. How can this work in music? With a little imagination and some planning. While this is probably the most complicated idea here, I think it could also be one of the most rewarding.

The Genius Hour project I completed with my 5th-grade band and orchestra students was called “Mozart Minutes.” The students had four weeks following the Spring Concert to work on anything they wanted relating to music. I write about that in these two posts: Mozart Minutes and Inquiry and Mozart Minutes. Amy Rever, a middle school band director, has tried it with her students on more than one occasion and has great things to say on her blog, The Noisy Room Down the Hall. I think if you are ready to try something big, this is the perfect challenge!

Have you tried any of these ideas in your classroom? Have suggestions for other things music teachers can try? Be sure to let me know! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Give the students choice, encourage them to be creative, and take risks of their own. The results are worth it.

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