The good news: today nearly everyone has access to a portable device capable of shooting high-quality video and audio. The bad news? Today nearly everyone has access to a portable device capable of shooting high-quality video and audio.
It’s hard to not be disturbed by all the people trying to document their child’s performance at school events. At Bay Shore High School we addressed this problem by promising parents access to audio and video recordings of concerts that would be superior to what they would get on their personal devices. This encouraged them to be quiet during performances (as they knew we were making recordings), allowed them to better enjoy the moment, and minimized the disruption of cameras and phones being held up and blocking the view of fellow concert goers.
Utilizing a couple of video cameras and some video editing software like Apple’s iMovie or Final Cut X, you can put together a multi-camera/multi-angle video that will be of great quality and interest to you, your students, and their families.
You may have a video production class in your school that can assist in the project. If not, and you’re unsure about your video experience, there are likely students in your group who can help. Students love having creative opportunities and influence over projects like this.
Start with a Plan
For best results, start by creating a shot list and scripting out the interesting angles and specific performers you want to capture prior to the performance. Set one camera as your wide establishing shot of the whole group (likely on a tripod). Have a second camera move from location to location for tighter shots or sections playing, solos, and the conductor. Make notes specific to your program so your camera operator(s) know when to prepare for each successive shot.
Introducing a third camera will provide you with even more options when it comes time to edit the results. Soon you’ll be watching televised concerts and programs like Great Performances with different eyes, learning new shots and techniques you’ll want to try.
Share the Results
You can share your final product with your parents and students and administration in many different ways. You can create your own channel on YouTube or Vimeo and password protect your files for your communities’ use.
Burning a DVD is another option. While it adds some additional costs in the production, some schools sell the DVD as a fund raiser for the music department. Many parents would prefer to have physical media to archive their student’s childhood, and you may be surprised how many households purchase multiple copies to share with other friends and family members who may not be able to attend your concerts.
Recordings of concerts go a long way in development of your performance groups. Seeing and hearing what works and doesn’t work can be a real eye opener for many students.
Having past performances of your ensembles to reference and share with incoming students helps establish an expectation and legacy of great music making and the desire to be as good as or better than the class before. In addition to reviewing your students’ performance, you can review your conducting, stage presence, pacing, and more.
Still not certain you can tell all parents to turn off their devices at your next concert? Then don’t: shoot your video around them, edit the results, and then make your proposal for next time based on this success.
If you have any questions on how to produce a video of your group’s next concert, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]: I am glad to share with you my knowledge and experience in this area.
Ted Scalzo is a veteran teacher of 36 years, including 29 years as the band director at Bay Shore High School in Long Island, New York. His wind and jazz ensembles have received numerous awards. Ted has used Finale to arrange for marching band since version 1.0, and taught music composition/theory and a multimedia class that he designed for Bay Shore students. A fervent advocate of technology in the classroom, Ted was honored as an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2005, was twice appointed to the NYSSMA Music Technology Committee, and teaches a course on music education technology at Hofstra University.