November 2021 – this post has been updated! Check out some new ideas on how to complete this project.
I started doing the Thanksgiving Concert project a few years ago with my band and orchestra students. While I don’t believe in giving “homework” over long breaks, it is great when students can still play their instruments during that time. The Thanksgiving Concert is a completely optional, yet fun, way to achieve this.
I encourage the students to perform a “concert” for family and/or friends over the Thanksgiving break. I give them a blank “program” to list the pieces they play and a place for the audience members to sign their names. In my experience, both the students and families have had so much fun with this! The kids are very creative finding their audiences too – everything from a large group at Thanksgiving dinner, to playing for grandma over the phone, and even including the family pets. This is not a required project, instead I tell the students they will get a surprise upon returning to school with a completed program – a candy cane or something similar.
There are several ways to complete this project. Instead of filling out the paper program, student could record their performance on Flipgrid and take a selfie with the audience! Another option is to use Padlet or Jamboard. Have students share a list of the songs they play along with a picture of them playing, a selfie with the audience, or something similar.
My theory is, whatever I can do to get kids playing their instruments at home and involving their families is a good thing. The parents enjoy hearing their kids play, and the kids love sharing their music. It’s a win-win!
Here is a link to the blank program – one version for Thanksgiving, another for Winter Break! If you would like to try this with your students, just make a copy of the Google Doc and edit as needed. I’ll also include a link to what the Flipgrid topic would look like. Be sure to let me know how it goes!
Looking for more fun activities for young musicians? Check out 5 Ideas to Try After a Concert for suggestions!