I don't know about you, but this time of year tends to be the least stressful time for me. I don't get wrapped up in heavy spending, I keep in mind the true reason for the season, I don't go crazy with decorations, and I find peace in the holiday music (as long as it starts after December 1st). But there's just one thing as a music therapist in a school that can't start to get to me: the Holiday Show. I love to see children performing in the spirit of the holidays just like anyone else. I know it brings smiles to everyones faces, and believe me, I'm included in that everybody.
The problem that I find is that the process of it tends to stress out the staff (including myself) more than it makes the kids happy. Sometimes our number are more crowd control than musical. Sometimes our staff does all the work and the kids just stand there dressed up. Sometimes the staff puts in their all, a whole 200% into their students number, just for it to fall apart the day of the show. All of this work throughout the start of the year for a few days of showcasing, and believe me it's worth it. Although I believe shows can tend not be therapeutic for the children who are not fully cogniscent of what is happening, I always try to see the positive in everything and find the joy within chaos and stress. Here are a few positives to shows within a music therapy program:
1. Watching your students shine- For those students who are aware of what it means to be in a show, you get the chance to see them embrace any talents they may have a shine on stage. Letting them show off a skill that they may not get to show off regularly or watching them take on a new challenge, no matter what you get to see them in the spotlight and loving it.
2. Giving your students a voice- One of my favorite things to do with our shows is to allow the students to choose their own instrument for the show. I even allow my students to vote for the song that they want to perform to for their class. I give them each a list of songs and ask them to number them 1-10 as a class. This allows the students to work together and learn about voting!
3. Community Building- One of the benefits of our shows in particular is that they are open to the public. Although we do not advertise this to the community through flyers, we allow anyone to attend our shows, including district representatives, extended family, case managers, and anyone else who would like to come to the show. This allows everyone to see how hard the students work and how great of an arts program we have to offer.
4. Showcasing talents- Many of our students have unbelievable musical talent that do not often get to be shown to friends and family. Through shows, our students that excel in a specific instrument or skill get to show the world what they have to offer. This is also a way to build confidence in students who may be lacking.
Last but not least (actually, it's most important!)...
5. Parent pride- When I plan my shows, I always think "If that were my kid, would I be happy to see them doing that?". This allows me to step outside my director and therapist role and see the breakdown of the show for what it is: Entertainment for the parents. If my answer to the question is yes then all is fine. If my answer to the question is no, then I know that I need to add an element to the performance whether it's a solo, or a special feature, or just something a bit more difficult or challenging.
We all know that shows, especially around the holidays, can be stressful on those directly involved in putting it together. But it's important to look past the chaos and remember who the shows are for: the parents. The ones who deserve a break. The ones who work hard to provide for their children. The ones who take off of work every chance they get to see their kids in a parade or a show or an awards ceremony. These parents are why we do the shows. To make their holidays even brighter and to bring a smile to their faces on even the darkest day. So if you are putting on a show this holiday season and you are feeling stressed or pushed to your limit, remember the reason why you do what you do. Write it down. This is something I do when showtime gets into full swing in order to keep me from loosing my head. So now I want to know, what do you do to keep yourself from getting the school show blues and why do you do what you do? Let us know in the comments below!
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