TABLE OF CONTENTS
Schools all around the world have an end of the year concert, so when you hear your school announce that there will be an end of year show you are not too worried as you have been in several yourself and know what to expect. Be warned – forget all of your experiences and expectations and start all over again as an end of year concert in Vietnam is drastically unlike concerts in the rest of the world.
What is an End of the year concert?
The first major difference is the attitude towards the concert. In the West, the concert is very much about showing parents how far pupils have progressed, how they now have teamwork and cooperation skills so can sing and dance together. There are homemade costumes made from random pieces of cardboard and cloth and the emphasis is on the children doing the best that they can.
In comparison, in Vietnam, the end of year concert is all about achievement – showcasing what pupils can do and how they are excelling. There needs to be coordination (even from the lowest level) and full participation, with the performances being sleek and professional. Costumes are typically made especially for the performance by parents working long into the night or professional tailors.
In order to achieve this perfection, preparations for the end of year concert starts very early – usually as soon as Tet is over in February or March at the very latest. There is typically a set theme with all performances revolving around this theme. Each class (even the class of 2-year-olds) are expected to get onto the stage and perform so at this time you need to start preparing your performance.
End of year concerts in Vietnam are an organised and professional event
Choose an idea for your class’ performance
Choosing the right activity is essential, so the general guidelines are:
Avoid just one child speaking alone – this is a very dodgy thing to do. All it takes is a case of nerves and your piece is destroyed. Instead, try to have a group of pupils so that there are backup children.
Have supplementary distractions – in order that parents are not only looking at the child speaking and fully focussing on how well ( or poorly ) they are doing, have things to distract, such as accompanying PowerPoints projected onto a large screen, other children holding up large examples of work and walking across the stage to aid explanation etc.
If you can avoid speaking and have dances then take this option – even if you know nothing about dancing it is much easier to work with a dance than with children speaking. When choosing music, make sure that it has a good steady beat so that you can get the parents to clap along to it.
Once your performance has been chosen, then it is essential to rehearse continuously. The expectation is that the performance is perfect, so it is worth putting in the time and effort as you will be judged on the performance. When working to practise it is very useful to:
Send the music/words home with the children for homework (along with instructions in both English and Vietnamese)
Share your ideas with your Vietnamese counterparts – they will know what you are aiming for and will be able to guide you
Break down the performance into easily manageable steps so that children only have to remember a short number of instructions at any one time
End of year concerts are held in large auditoriums and event halls
Now that you have decided on the performance and started practising, the next things are the costumes and props. With costumes, the more ornate and sparkly they are the better – add sparkles everywhere you can and make sure that the base costume is a strong colour that will look good from a distance.
In relation to props, it is important to make the props large, as the children will be on a stage and thus need to be easily visible to all. Make sure that the props whilst performing will not distract the children and if you are unsure, then opt for freestanding props that can quickly be placed on the stage before the children walk on.
On the day itself, it is important to be prepared. Make sure that you have tissues and wet wipes at hand as well as water for any stains that have suddenly appeared. Costumes inevitably disintegrate at the last moment so make sure you have sticky tape, a sewing kit and a stapler for any last-minute repairs.
If you are having your end of year concert at an outside venue then make sure you take something for the children to sit on (e.g. a large piece of plastic sheeting) and something to keep them occupied whilst they wait their turn – something easy and clean but time-consuming is recommended such as colouring or blocks.
Make sure that all of your equipment works before the programme starts and the volume is loud enough, as it is better to be too loud than too quiet.
On the day, itself do your very best to remain calm and cool – if you are relaxed and calm then the children will calm down and this, in turn, will result in a better performance. Remember that although you have been practising for months, at the end of the day it really is only a show and you have done the very best that you can – so push the darlings onto the stage and watch in wonder as they perform the end of year concert to the very best of their ability and make themselves and you – their teacher – proud.