What Is A Music Informance? [Detailed Guide]

image what is a music informance?

A few years ago, I started to hear about this new term at a conference and went around asking people: What is a music informance? 

A music informance is an alternate way to run a musical performance. Where a performance is about showcasing the end-product of a specific series of songs or show, a music informance is meant to show off and inform the audience of the learning going on in the music classroom. A music informance can be done in a classroom setting during the school day or in an auditorium-style setting. 

Read on for more details about this growing trend including a comparison with the standard performance, suggestions for planning one, and examples of music informances I’ve run. 

Informance Definition

An informance is defined as a performance that can entertain but also educate. The informance is more common in music concerts with informational content being communicated to the audience.

The purpose of the informance isn’t to just put on a show, but tell the audience something. In music, it’s often to educate the audience about what learning and what work has taken place in the classroom.

Music Informance Vs. Performance Comparison

In this section, we’ll compare the music informance with a standard performance. Take a look at this quick chart comparing the two.

ElementsMusic InformanceMusic Performance
SettingIn your classroom or auditorium/gymnasiumAuditorium or Gymnasium
Content/SongsSongs and activities already done in classSongs specifically learned for the concert
FormatTwo main options:
Example Informance - Parents watch a music class
Help File Informance - A grade level combines and performs the songs and activities from class
Varies - may include:
Musical
8-10 songs around a theme
3 songs per grade level with rotation
PurposeShowcase the students’ learning of musical elementsShowcase songs learned for the concert
Time To Prepare2-4 weeks depending on what exactly you want to do6-8 weeks, may be more depending on frequency of music classes
ProsSaves curriculum time
Emphasizes students’ learning
Educate parents on the importance of music
Inform parents on what happens in your class
No new songs are needed
More audience involvement is possible
More traditional
It’s what the parents expect
Often a big hit
Musicals can be purchased for easy planning
ConsA few parents may hold out that it’s “not what they used to do”Takes more time out of curriculum
Forces you to teach additional songs
Needs recorded music or a piano accompanist (unless you have great piano skills)

How To Plan A Music Informance

Planning a music informance isn’t hard at all once you’re used to it, but there are some basic steps to follow which may help you. These steps include: 

  1. Choose a format
  2. Pick a venue/setting
  3. Select Songs
  4. “Dress up” the songs
  5. Get the word out!  
  6. Rehearse activities
  7. Prepare your room
  8. Run program

Read on for a quick rundown of each step.

#1 Choose a format

First, you need to choose from one of two basic information formats. 

Example Informance – In this type, you invite parents into your classroom or auditorium to watch a single class (not whole grade level). 

During this time, you run a normal music class with all the elements you typically work on. The purpose of this format is to give an example of what your class usually consists of. 

Note: I say “normal” music class. But I usually make the songs and activities a little showier for the parents (as described in step #4). 

Help File Informance – In the type, parents come and see multiple classes or a whole grade level in an auditorium and gym. You perform songs and activities adapted for a large group and the space you have. 

During this informance, you (or the students) describe the concepts and elements these kinds of things develop in your students. 

I call this the Help File Informance because you’re sort of putting a normal performance, but you’re providing helpful explanations for a bigger context of the songs. 

#2 Pick a venue/setting

After you’ve picked a format, you need to choose your venue. Often, you’re two choices are your own room or an auditorium/gym. 

If you don’t have a room (at one school I do, but on the other I don’t), your choice is easy: auditorium/gym. This is a good choice if your room is small. 

For those looking at the Example Informance, your classroom usually provides the best experience.  

#3 Select Songs

You need to select the songs and activities now for your informance. Part of how many you pick depends on how long of time you’re spending on the informance itself. 

While you can go as long as your music class usually is, I recommend keeping it between 20-30 minutes. Parents actually have a harder time paying attention than the students do, so shorter is usually better. 

I try to pick 6-8 songs from throughout the year or semester that demonstrate the main musical concepts we’ve been working on. When you teach with authentic folk songs, this is easy to do.

Here’s an example of the types of songs I look for: 

  1. Warm up activity
  2. Song demonstrating part-singing or singing challenge
  3. Song/activity demonstrating rhythmic elements
  4. Movement game w/song, folk dance, or play party
  5. Song to help demonstrate pitch concepts and solfege singing
  6. Song/chant with instruments of some kind
  7. “Cheesier” crowd-pleaser song

#4 “Dress up” the songs

Now, I still recognize the parents will be expecting something a little flashier than just Closet Key. So I try to make these songs seem a little fancier. 

Here are some things you can do to dress up your songs a little: 

  • Perform in canon
  • Perform as a partner song
  • Add ostinati 
  • Do movements
  • Alternate between boys and girls
  • Sing with different timbre of voices each repetition (squeaky, whisper, low, Batman, tongue out, etc)
  • Add instruments 

#5 Get the word out!

As with normal performances, you need to get the word out about the program. If you’re going to do the informance during the day, this is extra important. 

Getting the word out around 1 ½ – 2 months before the show will help parents take the day off if possible. 

I find that putting it out there earlier makes them forget it easier. If you do put it out there earlier, be sure to send a reminder at this mark. 

Here are my normal timeline for informing parents about an informance: 

  1. General timeline for the next year
  2. 1 ½ – 2 months out
  3. 1 month out
  4. 2 weeks out
  5. Night before all-call or email 

Note: When possible, I have the information sent home as a flyer, in an email, posted on the school’s Facebook page, and on the school website.

See my sample note home in a later section on this page.  

#6 Rehearse activities

Depending on what you’ve chosen, you may want to begin practicing as early as 4 weeks out. 

What you’re rehearsing at this point are the ways you’ve dressed up the songs. The students should already know the songs and activities you’re doing before you plan the informance. 

You also may want to focus on audience behavior.

#7 Prepare your room

Make sure you clean up your classroom or auditorium and prepare it for the parents coming. I put away any extra things we aren’t using. 

Pro-tip: Get a few of the kids to act as ushers and lead parents to their seats to watch. The parents will eat it up. 

#8 Run program

Then, all you need to do is just run the program! 

Please include attribution to DynamicMusicRoom.com with this graphic.

8 Steps To Plan A Music Informance

Examples Of Music Informance

I’ve done music informances using the Example format and the Help File format (see above section). Both work well, and in this section, I’ll describe an example of each I’ve performed to help you get a better idea. 

Example Informance Format Example 

Grade Level: First Grade

Time of Year: Spring 

Format: Example Informance 

Venue: Classroom 

Repertoire: 

  1. Siren Cards Warm up
  2. Charlie Over the Ocean 
  3. Bow Wow Wow
  4. Noble Duke of York 
  5. Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle 
  6. Johnny Works With One Hammer 
  7. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad 

Script/Flow: 

  1. Siren Cards Warm up 
    1. Welcome parents. Explain the purpose of warm ups. 
    2. S. use hands to sing shapes on Siren Cards. 
  2. Charlie Over The Ocean 
    1. Explain how we start with singing games and challenges.
    2. This song develops solo singing. 
    3. Play a few rounds of the game. 
  3. Bow Wow Wow
    1. Talk about the rhythm elements we learn in first grade.
    2. Sing the song in an AB repeating form with the “B” being reading rhythm patterns from flashcards.
  4. Noble Duke of York
    1. Discuss how we connect with music of the past by singing and moving. 
    2. Also, mention how music supports other areas such as reading its rhyme schemes and form. 
    3. Do Noble Duke play party movements and have S. create new endings. 
  5. Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle
    1. Talk about pitch elements we learn in first grade. 
    2. Have students echo sing, decode, and then read (the last reading pattern is Ickle Ockle). 
    3. Play Ickle Ockle. 
  6. Johnny Works With One Hammer
    1. Discuss what makes a percussion instrument. 
    2. Play Johnny while adding in different percussion as we go. 
      1. Rhythm sticks, egg shakers, tambourines, boom whackers, drums
  7. I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
    1. Share how we end class with a book or video that helps us to explore different cultures and ensembles including America’s own history. 
    2. Mention briefly the history of this song. 
    3. Sing with the kids and book (or just guitar). 

Help File Informance Format Example 

Grade Level: Fourth Grade

Time of Year: Fall/November

Format: Help File Informance

Venue: Gymnasium 

Repertoire: 

  1. Star Spangled Banner
  2. Slide Whistle Warm ups
  3. Au Claire De La Lune
  4. Button You Must Wander 
  5. Alabama Gal 
  6. Hot Cross Buns/Go To Sleep
  7. Follow The Drinking Gourd 
  8. This Land Is Your Land 

Script/Flow: 

  1. Star Spangled Banner
    1. Welcome to concert (near Veteran’s Day).
    2. Open with SSB accompanied by high school chamber group. 
  2. Slide Whistle Warmups
    1. Discuss warming up and head voice. 
    2. S. move to show warm ups with head voices copying the slide whistle. 
  3. Au Claire De La Lune
    1. Discuss diversity in classroom and singing challenges. 
    2. Sing Au Claire with the following form 
      1. Unison
      2. Half sing with bass line 
      3. Switch
      4. Sing in canon – 2 part, then 4 part 
      5. Unison finale 
  4. Button You Must Wander 
    1. Talk about rhythms learned in fourth grade. 
    2. Sing in unison. 
    3. Sing song with layered body percussion ostinati. 
  5. Alabama Gal 
    1. Discuss music’s connection to history.
    2. Class comes to gym floor in sets and sings and plays Alabama Gal play party. 
  6. Hot Cross Buns/Go To Sleep
    1. Discuss pitch elements learned in fourth grade. 
    2. Discuss recorder and its benefits. 
    3. Perform each song with words, solfege, and recorder. 
    4. Perform as a recorder partner song. 
  7. Follow The Drinking Gourd 
    1. Share about the history and class discussion of the piece and how it supports classroom learning in a meaningful way. 
    2. Perform with barred and non-pitched percussion accompaniment. 
  8. This Land Is Your Land 
    1. Sing with high school chamber group accompaniment. 

Sample Communication To Parents

In this section, I’ll share my (mostly) foolproof method for sending home descriptive flyers for parents using what I call the 5W method. 

The 5Ws stand for:

  • Who is the concert for?
  • What is an informance? 
  • Where is the concert taking place? 
  • When is the concert taking place? 
  • Why should parents attend? 

There are other things you could add to the notes, but, as a parent, I know there are tons of papers coming home. Things get lost easily. 

I love it when an important note comes home on a half sheet of colorful paper, so I can just stick it up on my fridge. With the concise information of the 5Ws, your parents will also be able to get at a glance all the important facts they need. 

Overall, my notes are usually a half sheet of paper (usually blue) and have the following information: 

  1. Title of Concert
  2. Date/Time of Concert
  3. Picture
  4. 5Ws
  5. (Optional) Another “what” can talk about what to wear. 
  6. (Optional) Link to teacher site for more information

Pro-tip: If you want to go into details on the informance, include a link to your website and have an FAQ on concerts. 

I also have an image flyer posted to the school’s website and Facebook page. This flyer contains all the same information in a very colorful format. 

I personally use Canva to create these. They have templates available where all you need to do is change the text. Super easy! 

Conclusion 

I hope you found this information on what a music informance is helpful. If you want to minimize curriculum disruption and showcasing specific learning, a music informance may be just what you need. 

Do you already try music informances? What has been your experience? 

Let us know in the comments! 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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