This Christmas Program was implemented at a Religious Kindergarten-8th grade school of approximately one hundred seventy students. It was performed in the front of the parish church. The program included eleven reading parts (Bible verses and narration), three unaccompanied songs, three finger plays, six hymns, five acting scenes, and one repeated chant.
Because of space issues, the school was divided alphabetically into two groups. Each group would perform the same program, but on different evenings. This also allowed more students to be involved in readings, acting, and singing solos. The aspects of the program were divided among three age groups: kindergarten -2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, and 6th-8th grade. The youngest age group was responsible for repeated chants (which happened in between each scene in the program), finger plays, simple songs, and the refrains of several hymns. The middle age group was responsible for the mimed acting parts, and for singing all the hymns. The oldest age group was responsible for the Bible readings, narration, and singing all of the hymns. This distribution allowed all of the children, no matter what age, a chance to be recognized for their role.
In class rehearsals of the program material started approximately six weeks before the performance dates. Finger plays, songs, and hymns were all rehearsed and memorized in class. The students learned by rote, and were assessed using fill in the blank tests, as well as competitions within classes for lyrics, melodic accuracy, and strength.
Students with reading or narrating parts were given their scripts in advance, and were pulled out of other classes for short individual coaching sessions. Students with acting parts were pulled out of other classes for minimal costume fitting.
Two weeks before the performances, all music classes were held in the sanctuary. Students were lined up, in order, in the places they would be standing for the performances. Each class period, the students ran through the entire program, in order, without the acting or speaking parts. Students practiced the songs, along with their cues to stand or sit. They also practiced marching in and out of the church.
At this point, students with speaking and acting parts were pulled from other classes. All of the actors and speakers for each scene were pulled out of class, and practiced their cues, acting, and speaking. Each scene rehearsal lasted no more than ten minutes.
The week of the performance, there were two dress rehearsals for each group, one pair of rehearsals at the beginning of the week, and one rehearsal the day of each performance. While group A rehearsed, group B watched, and vice versa. This not only gave the students extra mental practice, but it gave them a chance for recognition from their peers. Rehearsals took no more than an hour.
The night of each performance, the students assigned to that night showed up approximately 30 minutes early. They were then lined up in order by class. Students from the school who attended the same piano studio performed pre-service music with the help of their teacher. Both performances were extremely successful, and neither lasted more than thirty minutes.