Making It Work: Informance
What Is an “Informance,” and How Do I Do It?!
A growing trend among general music educators is to host Informances instead of Performances at their campuses. Informances are a great way to invite your students’ parents into the classroom and pull back the curtain to reveal the thoughtful process behind what and how we teach their children.
Who do Informances involve?
I have informances for Kinder-2nd, and you should include whatever you think is most appropriate for your school community. You could focus on specific grade levels, or on different clubs that you have at your campus.
What happens during an Informance?
Think of an Informance as “Take-Your-Family-to-Music-Class-Day,” instead of a performance. Familes are invited to join their children during Music Class for a lesson of making music together. Consider choosing activities that can easily involve families. For example, I choose some of the most interactive lessons and activities we have experienced throughout the year, and when we start an activity, the students invite their parents to come join us. If we are doing an activity with drums in a circle, the families join in the circle. If we are sharing group work we have already created, the groups are tasked with teaching the parents about the music they created, and why they made their musical choices. It is also wise to have a wide variety, so you can showcase a broad spectrum of the activities you and your students do. Depending on the grade level, I like to showcase music literacy, small group work, movements, and/or instruments. The list can go on and on!
Why should I consider hosting an Informance?
First and foremost, kids LOVE having their families visit. Informances have become a highlight of the year for my students, and their parents really enjoy them too! It is an enjoyable experience for families to visit multiple years, and see their childrens’ musical growth. Informances help to build a strong sense of community, and hence, support, for your music program.
In my experience, administrators have always been very impressed with Informances, and have given easy approval. There is no schedule change necessary, no before or after school requirements, and it increases community connections.
Finally, Informances are a great way to advocate for the music program. I highlight the Orff approach, and how we learn through singing, saying, dancing, and playing. Instead of hearing about what is happening in my room, parents are seeing and experiencing it first hand, with minimal, but consistent commentary from me so they can understand what is happening.
How do I put it together?
Consider having your Informances during your regular music class time and date. If you divide them up by class, it will take several days (likely at least a week), and will also create a more intimate setting for your students and families. Don’t forget to check your dates with your administration to make sure you aren’t conflicting with any other events that may be taking place at the same time.
Think about the location you want to use. I have always used my classroom. If you are a teacher on a cart, maybe you can host each class in their homeroom. If you have high parent involvement, maybe you need to move your Informance to a larger multi-purpose room, or a stage. If your campus demographic has a lot of working parents, be sure to send out an invitation at least two weeks in advance, so they can arrange to take time off of work (it is also important to talk with younger students about why their parents may not be able to make it, and what an appropriate reaction would look like). It is also helpful to send a reminder a few days in advance as well. I also plan to spend one to two lessons (depending on our chosen activities) reviewing different activities with my classes, so they can be prepared to be “the experts,” and take charge in teaching their parents.
Perhaps what makes Informances so appealing to me is the amount of flexibility I can have when planning them. I am only limited by my own ideas (or lack thereof!), and enjoy constantly trying to think of new ways to engage my school community with the music program. Consider trying to host an Informance at your school. If you are unsure of how you want it to look, try only one grade level the first year, and you can include more grade levels as you gain more experience!
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I’ve done this the past few years and my students, administrator and families LOVE it!! I have so many students that we can’t really do movement or play Orff instruments on stage at our normal concerts, so this was my idea to show the families what we do in a smaller group setting. It has been very successful (although I am EXHAUSTED after 3 days of being in the spotlight!!!)
Great information. At my school (Birch Elementary – Denver Metro area: northern suburb), we do Showcases. Similar to Informances however it includes Art, PE and Music. We “showcase” what we’re doing in our classes during a grade level’s specials time. Specials classes are 45 minutes long and we rotate every 12-15 minutes. Invite parents and they get to see what they’re doing in all three specials content areas. Parents love it and the administration loves it even more!
Thank you so much for this!! I have been wanting to do an informance but haven’t quite grasped how to. I would love to see more information about informances!
Informances have taken the place of grade-level PTA night performances at my schools, and I’m thrilled with the results. Our students and I make a list of what recent activities from music class we’d like to share with our parents, and I select students to lead those activities with parents as the “students.” This kind of student ownership in the process ensures that we have a good number of students and parents who attend that evening.
Great article. Thanks for sharing.
As a volunteer music docent with the non-profit MFMII, I have been doing in class performances with my Kinders over the past few years and always have a part at the end that involves parent participation with their kids. This is usually some easy multicultural dance or two and the kids love to watch their parents participate with them. Most parents make the effort to come and leave smiling. We also invite families to our yearly family music night and often have some come for special music presentations too eg Japanese taiko drumming.