Tonight, and, on average, three times a year, I make the pilgrimage to the school my husband teaches band at to see and hear their concerts. I don’t really know any of the kids in the band or the chorus, but my husband has been teaching at the same school for over 10 years, so it’s always fun to visit and see how the different groups perform.
These kids are really talented, and they’ve worked really hard to put out quality performances. The teachers have worked really hard with the students to teach them both proper performance technique and music skills (which, as an aside, has been shown to improve scores in the rest of their education). No, it’s not going to be a professional caliber performance by any means – they are kids, after all. They are showcasing all they have learned, all they know how, and quite possibly learning how to overcome stage fright, anxiety, peer pressure, and so on.
With that said, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to sit among an apathetic audience. An audience made of parents, siblings, grandparents, friends – none of whom seem to even care about what is going on right in front of them. We wouldn’t dream about talking through a TV show, or a movie in the theater, so why is it okay for people to talk, and even go so far as to gossip and say mean things about other kids in the performance, while the show is going on? Some things I witnessed at the concert I attended:
- Parents talking through the entire performance.
- Adults not only talking, but gossiping and outwardly being mean about others.
- Siblings playing on cell phones or Nintendo DS.
- Adults on their phone through the entire concert, either playing games or texting.
- People reading or doing paperwork during the concert.
- People outwardly walking out in the middle of a song (not even waiting for a quick break in the show between songs).
- Said people not even walking out around the outermost area of the performance, but cutting through right next to the performing group.
- Swearing and using inappropriate words and phrases around small children.
So when I look at these people, what do I see?
- I see parents who don’t care about what their child has to offer.
- I see people who think that Facebook is more important then what their child is showing them they have learned.
- I see children who feel like it wouldn’t even have been worth it for their parent to be there.
- I see children who will grow up to be rude, inconsiderate adults, and yet be angry when people don’t pay attention to them.
Why do concert-goers feel that this behavior is acceptable? It’s not. A parent texting on their phone during the entire concert is essentially the equivalent of someone showing up at the cash register of the grocery store talking on their phone. These kids have learned a lot, and these concerts are the only way they have to showcase that. It’s not the same as a spelling test, in which they can bring home the slip of paper with a grade on it. Their concert is the slip of paper. Take pictures. Hang them on the fridge next to the spelling test. Record a video. Share that on Facebook, and show your friends and family how awesome your kid is! “Look what my kid can do!” Your child may not say they want you to do these things, but guess what they’ll remember when they grow up? Because they will remember that you came to every concert, cheered them on, and celebrated them. It means the world to them that their parents acknowledge what they can do.