Special Effects for Performances

Special Effects for Performances: Great ideas to add something extra to your musical programs, from flashlights, to scarves, to umbrellas!
If you've ever directed a musical program, you know how those “little” things can really add to a performance. In today's post, I'll discuss some special effects that I've tried for various performances, to add another layer to each musical!

#1: Flashlights

If you are planning any kind of firefly song at your program, flashlights are a really awesome addition! Here is one of my favorite firefly songs, a Japanese folk song called “Hotarukoi.”

A rough translation of the text is:
Ho, ho, ho, firefly come,
Here is some water that's bitter,
Here is some water that's sweet to your taste,
Ho, ho, ho, firefly come.

You could hand out flashlights to all students or just some of the students, and for that song, have the lights turned off. Then, as they sing the song, they randomly turn the flashlights off and on! It's a really cool effect that looks very much like fireflies!


You can purchase flashlights like the ones I used here.

#2: White gloves and glow sticks

Several months ago, I read this post by Amy Abbott and was inspired to try the movement piece for “Aquarium” like she did! I adapted the idea and did the same movement (from John Feierabend's “Move it” DVD), but with each student wearing one glove with a glow stick underneath (instead of white gloves with black lights, like Amy did). We had the lights turned off and then they performed. Here's the video from the performance…it was really exciting to see the idea come to life!


#3: Bird calls

If you have a program about birds, bird calls are a great special effect! (Check out this video about using the book “The Blue Songbird” for a program.) I have a few different bird calls in my room. Here are a few that could work really well for a program (click the pictures to view them on Groth Music): Crow call:

  Owl whistle:

  Cuckoo whistle:

    Before you sing a song about a certain bird (or as there is a part about a certain bird in your program), you or a student could play that bird call! I've also bought a Kookaburra bird call on iTunes, then burned that to the CD that has all of my accompaniment tracks, so that bird call could be played before we sing “Kookaburra”!   #4: Ribbons and scarves Ribbons and scarves are a GREAT way to add pizazz to a program! Whether you do a ribbon dance, movement with scarves, or you are adding color to a scene with scarves or ribbons, they can really add a lot to a program! Check out this post about using props in your music room. Click below to see scarves and ribbons on Amazon (note: these are referral links).

#5: Whistle

This might seem like an odd addition to the list, but whistles can really come in handy during musical programs! I've used them during drumming pieces, to signal the ending, and I've used them for dances, to signal changing movement. I got the idea to use a whistle with this book, which is a wonderful resource, especially if you are creating a program with African music.

#6: Umbrellas

I also got this idea from Amy Abbott. If you're doing a rain song, such as “Rain Rain Go Away,” or “I don't care if the rain falls down,” you could have students use umbrellas as a special effect! Maybe they simply spin the umbrellas as they sing, or maybe they open and close their umbrellas to the beat! Amy has used these umbrellas, which students can decorate!   What are your favorite special effects for programs? Feel free to comment below. Hope you're enjoying your summer!

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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