Top Tips for Surviving the Christmas Concert Season


In the last of our 10th anniversary ‘top ten tips’ blogs, Dr Liz Stafford offers some advice for music teachers on surviving the Christmas concert season.

  1. Start taking Lemsip now. I don’t care if you don’t have a cold, you will do by the time the last day of term comes round and by then you’ll be too knackered to recognise the symptoms.
  2. Remember that John Rutter is a lovely, lovely man with an immense amount of talent. It’s (probably) not his fault that your choir can’t sing in tune, so try not to harbour murderous thoughts every time you hear the introduction to the Star Carol.
  3. Also remember that other Christmas music composers do exist – Bob Chilcott, Will Todd, George Fredrick Handel, The Pogues…
  4. Insert some earplugs. There are going to be a lot of performers having crises of confidence; but if you can’t hear them, then there isn’t a problem. In fact, why not leave the earplugs in during the concert. They never watch you when you’re conducting, so why should you listen to them?
  5. Never, EVER operate a backing track yourself. It’s bound to go wrong and leave you in the firing line of an angry parent whose little darling didn’t get the chance to shine. Instead, give that responsibility to your least favourite pupil – if you happen to teach at the school that your own children attend, that would be ideal.
  6. Resist the temptation to shout at anyone who calls it ‘The’ Messiah.
  7. Resist the temptation to shout at anyone who asks why you didn’t do the Hallelujah Chorus in your performance of ‘The’ Messiah. Bide your time until Easter Sunday, turn up at their house at 6am and play ‘The’ Messiah at full blast on your car stereo.
  8. Never get involved in the ‘Staff Performance’ – remember that you are a professional, and you don’t want your musical credibility ruined by accompanying the rest of the staff as they belt out a questionable rendition of ‘All I want for Christmas is You.’ Less ‘Love, Actually’ more ‘Cringe, Actually.’
  9. Remember that Christmas is a joyful time of giving and sharing and you should be grateful for every… no sorry, I was just testing to see if you were still reading.
  10. Don’t eat the post-concert mince pies – they will inhibit the mulled wine from getting into your bloodstream. Nobody needs slow release alcohol after suffering through ‘It was on a starry night’ 476 times in three weeks. In fact, why not get to the buffet table early and take the entire drinks tray – you’ve earned it.

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