“Holiday Pops Concert”
Roxbury High School Band
Each year, the RHS Honors Wind Symphony hosts a short holiday concert for our community. Designed with families in mind, we perform approximately 30 minutes of holiday music representing several winter holidays and featuring several holiday character guests. Our youngest audience members are encouraged to get up and dance and have fun while the band performs. Afterwards, members of the RHS band program and our parent organization host a reception filled with treats and holiday crafts. Admission is free or charge but we do collect goods to donate to social services to support those in need in our community.
The goal of our Holiday Pops concert is multi-faceted. One goal was to create an annual family friendly event that was free of charge and that would become a community “staple” year after year. Additionally, we want to engage our community on multiple levels to showcase the students in our band program. By gearing this concert towards families with younger students, we engage parents at the elementary or even pre-school level who would otherwise be uninvolved with our high school band program. For those parents and young children, we want them to experience all the wonderful opportunities our band program offers and we want them to be looking forward to getting involved with music and the band program as early as possible in our school system. This concert allows us to further expand our “reach” to the community to highlight our amazing students as well as the value of music education. Our goal is to build allies and advocates from the earliest stages and to showcase the benefits to not only the performing students but to our entire community of a well supported music education program in our school district. Additionally, after the concert, we host a reception and holiday craft fair for attending families. We use student volunteers from throughout the band program to help run that event, giving all students in our band program a chance to participate and give back to the community.
Our goal was to target families, especially those with younger children, to engage them in a musical activity that is free, fun, and appropriate and accessible for even the youngest audience members. We want to build allies, and advocates throughout our community from the earliest possible moments so that our community can appreciate and value not only our band program but the immeasurable benefits of a strong music education.
We begin sight reading music in late fall. In early November, we begin publicizing the concert through fliers, emails, local press release and district alerts. Students and parents hang fliers in their place of work and other local businesses. In mid-November, parent volunteers sort through materials for our holiday craft fair and secure additional resources for the event. On the day of the concert, band parent volunteers set up our cafeteria with snacks and crafts. After the concert, student and parent volunteers, along with staff members, help run the craft fair and participate in the clean up.
Overview of Planning and Execution
As the director of bands, I take on a large part of the responsibility of planning and securing dates and facilities, preparing music, helping to secure student volunteers and coordination our parent participation. Our BPA President, Mr. Dan Masi, also helps to coordinate parent volunteers, updates our flier, and coordinates our purchasing of snacks and materials for our craft fair. Our District Community School Director/Community Relations Coordinator, Ms. Ann Rhodes, also helps by sending out our annual press release to local outlets and families. Most of the time commitment come on the day of the event from our volunteers, about 4 hours total!
Marketing and Promotion
In early November, we begin publicizing the concert through fliers, emails, local press release and district alerts. Students and parents hang fliers in their place of work and other local businesses. I ask students who babysit to share the flier with those families as well. Additionally, a strong social media presence from our Band Parent Association as well as our students help to “spread the word” about the event. Finally, I think “word of mouth” also really helps us with the event. We were able to bring this event back to the public after a COVID hiatus for the first time in December of 2021, and last year in December of 2022 we more than doubled our audience size!
We spend only about $250 in supplying snacks and materials for our reception and craft fair that follows the performance.
The largest challenge was “re-starting” this program again after a forced hiatus in December of 2020 due to COVID. I had to get this event running again to kids, band parents, and community stakeholders could once again enjoy the music and the community of this event. As I said, our audience size more than doubled from our first post-COVID event in December of 2021 to last year’s event in December of 2022. I think the community felt safe and was eager for an event that would allow them to share a few of hours of holiday festivities and community positivity!
I firmly believe that by hosting this community event, having it staffed and run by volunteers, by making it free to our community and by collecting goods for social services, I am allowing my students to experience and share in the knowledge that giving back and sharing their time, efforts, and talents, is one of the greatest gifts they can offer and helps to build a strong and positive community. On a community and district level, I get to share our gift of music and community with so many who would not ordinarily be present at a high school band concert. We are making deep and meaningful connections at the earliest phase with parents and children who are excited about music and what our district has to offer. One of my great joys is meeting families after the concet
Advice for others?
I think the best advice would be to make sure you know your community and design and program that fits and reflects the needs/desires/demographics of the various stakeholders. Also, patience is the key to ensuring that this event grows and endures over the years.