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A resource for music therapists, music educators, and other professionals who work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and care providers.
This topic has been on my mind recently, as I organized and directed performances for an open house last week. Determining the ideal order of pieces for a concert never figured into my college coursework as a music industry studies and music therapy major, but after several years of practice, I feel like it comes down to two principles: EFFICIENCY and ENERGY. When possible, try to keep these concepts in mind when initially selecting pieces.
For those of you who aren't sure where to start when it comes to developing a program or setlist for a show, read on...
Efficiency is about considering the requirements of each piece in order to ensure that performers, instruments, costumes, props, and sets are in the right place at the right time (depending on the type of show, you may have less or more factors to worry about). It's kind of like Sudoku. Unless the songs are part of a pre-existing storyline (such as a musical), this approach can loosely dictate a general order for your show.
Energy is about balancing interactions between pieces. You may want to group pieces that are similar, or separate them to create contrast. It is important to consider the flow of energy throughout the program.
Energy is influenced by the individual character of each piece. Some features of different energy levels are listed below; however, there are always exceptions.
Energy is also influenced by the connection between each piece and the audience. Are attendees familiar with the song, or is it new to them? What is the mood of the piece? Lower-energy pieces might evoke feelings of sadness, solemnity, or calm, while high energy pieces might express happiness, excitement, or anger.
When I think back to every show I have ever directed or performed in, there is a pattern when it comes to energy. In general, concerts:
Remember that developing a program or setlist is a creative process, just like composing and performing the music itself. There are numerous configurations and some will seem better or worse according to your purpose. Go with your gut, and remember that nobody else is likely to be analyzing or judging your final decision.
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