Yesterday we had our Fall Concert at the Farm. Hundreds of people came out and about 40 students performed. It was an amazing day but it didn't exactly go as planned. To fully appreciate what happened yesterday, I have to take you back a few years.
***CUE SPACEY TIME-WARP SOUND***
Our studio has been open for almost 3 years. Before that, I spent about 6 years at a large church where I grew my studio from about a dozen guitar students to 70+ students in guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, drums, and more. I had group guitar and drum classes. We had 4-5 bands perform at each recital including songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Living on a Prayer (those are 4th-6th graders in the video below), and Don't Stop Believing. It was BIG. And I did it all myself.
I don't say I did it all myself to brag,
but to let you know how much of a control freak I am.
I wanted everything to be perfect and I thought that
no one knew how to do it that way except for me.
I would start prepping for the recital months before. I meticulously worked on the program to get it perfect. We even had themed recitals. 2012 was an all-Beatles recital and I loved introducing kids to one of the most important bands of all time. I would spend weeks working on the formatting, font, size, and style of the printed program, even having talented high school art students design the cover. I would make the copies and fold them myself. Hundreds of them.
Lessons were consumed by the recital. It was in May and we would spend the entire Spring semester working on music. I would spend November and December picking music for all of my students to give them options and make sure we had a great show. My students were amazing. They knew their music and were well rehearsed. We would spend the last few weeks doing multiple dress rehearsals during their lessons each week so they were prepared and ready to perform. One year I had a Practice-A-Thon where we raised money for Charity:Water in an effort to help increase practice time. I would start setting up the physical space a few days before the recital. It was a large room used for kids ministry in the church. I would set up 300 chairs. Each one perfectly in line. I would adjust them over and over, sitting in multiple seats to assure the best viewing angles.
I had rooms set up for students to get set up and tune in: "Green Rooms", where they could hang out before the recital.
Parents gathered in the main room where I had carefully crafted a playlist of themed music and created a powerpoint slide with trivia about the music being played by our students and news and upcoming events in our studio. I set up the stage and spent hours on set and stage design as well as compiling tech sheets for lighting and sound cues since we had so many different instruments performing.
For the recital itself, sometimes I would MC the entire performance. Other times I would stand behind the sound guy or run lights to make sure everything was perfect. I often had an older student getting students ready to go on stage including one student always waiting just off stage 'on-deck' to be ready to play to ensure seamless transitions. I had pre-planned music for the very short setup times between each student. We would squeeze in 60+ students in about 35 acts in under 2 hours. It was a well oiled machine and it was the highlight of our entire year.
Our concert yesterday was....different.
To start, instead of having my studio defined by one night this was simply an overflow of everything that our studio currently is. It was a fun-filled day with students performing all day, a petting zoo, games, food trucks, and a costume contest. Families could either sit and watch students perform or take part in the other activities. No matter where you were you could still see and hear the performers. It was a lot of fun and felt much more like a fall festival than a recital, which is exactly what I wanted.
I delegated early and often. I let our drum instructor handle running sound, though I helped him to pack and set up. I let our teen teachers handle checking students in, getting students set on stage, and announcing students as they performed. My wife handled our info table and other instructors greeted people and helped in other ways.
We only had an hour to set EVERYTHING up because the venue had two birthday parties scheduled before us. It was a bit frantic but we got it done. We had some technical difficulties at times and it took longer than we thought to get students set up. By the end we were running almost an hour behind schedule! BUT, a lot of people signed up earlier in the day and almost none towards the end so everything worked out.
Here was the real kicker though....I woke up sick that morning and stayed in bed until about an hour before we left to set up. I NEVER get sick. I manned up and got through setup, helped get everything running smoothly with sound and students, and even announced students and welcomed everyone and felt pretty good. But about halfway through it all hit me and I had to go and sit down to get some air. I had given my team a heads up that I wasn't feeling well and my wife wound up taking over for me. People had risen to the task so well that she didn't actually have anything to do! All in all, a bunch of teens really ran the whole show and did an amazing job. My wife's mom actually ended up taking me home about 30 minutes before the concert was over because they were afraid I was going to pass out. It was really hard to leave an event we had worked so hard to put together but I knew I had to trust my team. They finished the concert, broke everything down, loaded it up, and had it back at the studio in no time.
It is SO hard for me to delegate but in this case I had no choice. I wanted to let people take responsibilities but in the end I was really forced to let them do everything. And it went better than I could have imagined. Even with everything not going according to plan and not going perfectly it was still an incredible day.
Remember this picture?
It perfectly sums up the afternoon. I worked so hard to make my old recitals perfect and people definitely appreciated it. This one was far from perfect but still very good and people still thought it was amazing.
Know when good enough is good enough and move on!
All in all we had an amazing day and are looking forward to the next one in the Spring. We have already made plans to help it run more smoothly and add some fun new additions. But really, I am most proud of our team. I know that they can handle it and will make the next one even better. The only way that you can grow is to build a team around you that you trust and then let them do their jobs.
My team did so much more than I asked or expected and had a great time doing it!