Nov. 10, 2020
Courtney Buzan, University of South Carolina
Toire Vince, NACA Experience & Events Director
Gone are the days where your ballroom is your only venue for traditional campus programming. The break from the tradition can boost the morale and energize your programming board to see campus in a different light in order to explore ways to engage campus in clever and unexpected ways.
The students of the Carolina Productions programming board are throwing around the idea of a “golf cart karaoke” concept, similar to the James Cordon craze, that would feature a golf cart that would take students to and from their classes with a karaoke expectation for the passengers. What better way for students to showcase their potentially hidden talent in a fun, socially distant way around campus?
For those that are hosting in-person programming but perhaps not able to do large concert settings, here are some innovative ways to use music in programming:
- If outside is the safest place to host events in our current environment, consider pushing the mold on “the way things have always been done” on your campus and get inspired with the old locations in new ways. Chances are that these performers are craving an opportunity to perform in a safe environment - give them the opportunity to perform for their peers and campus community.
- Outside dining areas can now be entertainment zones.
- Patios can now host mini concerts.
- A street can now host outdoor musical and theatrical performances with a small stage.
- The steps of your administration building could be a perfect stage for your acapella groups to gather at the holidays for some carols.
- Your large field or quad can be an inviting place for collaborations with your musical department or student performance organizations.
- Forge a relationship with your local theatre or performing arts center to see if they would like to bring their artist to perform on campus for your students.
- Athletic venues may also be an option if your athletics department is already considering ways to engage their fans. Leverage a partnership to use your students as their “guinea pigs” so you can host events in their space, and they can practice safety measures among their staff.
NACA® Virtual had a lot of amazing musical talent showcased over the two weekends of the events. Watching and listening to these performances virtually got us thinking about all of the ways that live music could be integrated into virtual events. If you don’t want to host a virtual concert but really want to integrate live music into virtual programming, here are some creative ways to do that virtually:
- Have a musician act as an emcee over an event/game show
- Host an open mic night/student singing competition/talent show
- Sing songs for a musical bingo night—this would be so fun during a themed series with a cover band!
- Host a DIY activity kit put together event—students get a show and an activity at the same time
- Teach some basic music or singing lessons
- Host a group song-writing session and sing-along
Not all musicians may be interested in these non-traditional performances, but most are willing to try new things during this time and ultimately just want to perform, no matter the setting. If you are at a school that cannot host in-person shows right now, consider using musicians in a new way to engage your students. Now is the time to try new things, innovate, problem-solve, and who knows, you may create a new campus tradition that will become beloved by students for years to come.
Courtney Buzan is the assistant director for campus programs at the University of South Carolina. Toire Vince serves as the experience & events director at NACA.
Related Professional Competencies: Event Support, Institutional Culture and Expectations