Monday, March 17, 2008

The Spring Choral Concert

Giving birth is agonizing, but it’s good training for later years when parents will be required to sit through yet another school choral/band concert.

Yes, we've weathered the spring choral/band concert again this year.

Don’t get my wrong; I love my child and support her in all she does. I even love the other people’s children who are in the program. I am thankful for my sense of hearing. Yes, I know how important music education is; it makes kids smarter and builds self-esteem, makes them well-rounded, etc. Yes, I’m thankful for so many things, but I cannot tell a lie; sitting through those concerts is just hard for me. And by the looks of those around us last night, I am not the only bad mom in the world.

Part of the problem is that I do not have an appreciation for choral music, unless it’s sung during an Easter or Christmas service. If I were Queen, I would allow choral singing on those holidays only, and that’s it. Christmas caroling and “Happy Birthday” would be tolerated, but only if done responsibly, which precludes singing "Happy Birthday" in Texas Roadhouse with the birthday person sitting on a saddle.

These concerts are physically painful because you are cramped in tiny stadium seats. The only way to cross your legs is to have one foot turned completely perpendicular to your leg with the outside of the twisted foot plastered against the back of the seat in front of you. So if you uncross your legs, you have to sit there with your knees pulled up like you’re strapped in an electric chair.

And after a while, you are almost wishing a jolt of electricity could course through your body to take your mind off of the pain of sitting through the jazz band’s rendition of “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.”

There are some givens at these concerts. There is always an African song. I don’t know why you never hear a Turkish or German song; it’s always African. There is always a song without real lyrics, where kids syllabically be-bop a tune. There’s always a song that includes sign language, which makes me think of the Happy Hands Club in Napoleon. There is always a patriotic song, and often a Negro spiritual like “All God’s Chillun Got Wings.” This night, it was something about “Hand me down a silver trumpet, Gabriel.”

The smaller the kids are, the less painful it is because they are cute. Even the 6th grade band with all of its squeaks and squawks is kind of endearing. But what really ticks me off is that the organizers purposely schedule the little ones at the end of the program so that people will be forced to sit through the whole thing in order to see their small child. Administrators don’t want choirs/bands to be playing to an empty auditorium at the end of the evening. But the thing is, the performing kids’ parents and grandparents would still be there, even if the crowd diminishes as the night wears on. (And I mean wears on.) And after all, we’re all only there to see our own kids anyway, and everyone knows it.

One result of scheduling the little ones at the end is that bored, tortured younger siblings start to fidget and cry and climb over every person down the row for relief. I can’t blame them. By that time, I’m ready to climb and crawl around on the floor, too.

Nevertheless, this was my youngest’s spring choral concert, and I was there to support her. At one point, I thought the night would never end. But afterwards, when my girl and I were standing in the narthex waiting for her dad to pick us up, she looked at me with those big brown eyes and asked so sincerely, “Did it sound good? Did it sound all right?”

My heart nearly exploded. “It was great!” I said, “Especially that one about spring!” She processed that reply for a split second and then looked reassured.

Suddenly, I was keenly aware that not every child had a mom there to affirm him/her due to divorce, abandonment, illness or death, etc. I was so grateful I had the chance to be there, to see her, affirm her and hear her. Well, sort of hear her.

In the back of my mind, since she is in 9th grade, I'm aware there aren’t that many choral concerts remaining. I know from having two who have moved into adulthood that one day, I’ll actually remember the school concerts with a smile. And really, let’s be honest … I did have the most talented, spectacular, beautiful kid up there!

So it wasn’t so bad after all. I may even watch the videotape of the whole thing just to re-live the experience, even that Wilson Pickett song that the middle school band interpreted!


Queen B said...

I appreciate your thankfulness and acknowledgement of your blessings...but that is just funny. And so true!! The pain! The agony!!

Thank you so much for the laugh!!!

Debbie said...

This caused some flashbacks to my feelings about JAA baseball! But truly, you haven't sat through anything until you've been to karate tryouts for the Jr. Olympics... literally 8:00 a.m until after 7:00 p.m. -on bleachers -and you can't leave because there is no schedule telling you when your child will be competing!!!!
And somehow, as a Mom, you still want to be there to support and encourage!

Laura said...

Oh my word, I made my parents sit through so many of those. Ahh... I have so much to look forward to!

This line cracked me up hugely: "the pain of sitting through the jazz band’s rendition of “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.”" I can already hear it. Wow, it puts a spring in my step. :)

Anonymous said...

The only thing that is slightly worse than a choral concert might be the 2 recitals twice a year of violin and piano. I agree, you are only there to see your own kid......and they ARE the cutest, most talented and far superior to anyone else on stage!!

I had to chuckle at my in-laws this past week as the look of sweet relief flooded their faces as I told them that my oldest had adjudications the next week, not a recital, so they shouldn't feel like they had to come!!! And they aren't!!

Simple Journeys said...

Been there--done that!! My cross to bear was band concerts. 14 years of them. Yes, loved my kids, supported all they did, yes on all counts. But the concerts! When they were younger in the beginner bands, they were always scheduled last. So as they advanced to the high school band, I am excited to know we are up first. No! By that time, the beginners are now scheduled first! Aacckk!! Oh, yes--been there, done that!

Susanne said...

Funny how time softens experiences. I'm sure I will one day look fondly back on the rugby games sitting on bleachers in the cold wind while trying to locate which kid was mine out on the field while continously asking "what's going on, What just happened?"

Darlene R. said...

I remember participating in those long concerts. Ours was called "The Hour of Music", which never made sense to me because it was more like 3 hours of torture.
The time has come for me to play my part as the parent and sit through a few thousand of these things myself. My oldest is in 5th grade, so we have a long road ahead of us!

Mocha with Linda said...

Ahh, as reading Susanne's comment reminded me, this is why having a musical child is far preferable to having an athletic child! Unless it's basketball or volleyball, which are played indoors.

Actually, the kids at the concerts this year were great. The performances were wonderful.

It was the other parents, especially at the area-wide auditioned regional concerts, that I wanted to throttle. The ones with the cell phones. The ones who ignored the written and requested etiquette for concerts. The ones who didn't know that you don't clap, especially on an acapella piece, until the director has cut off the choir on their held final note. Especially when they have announced the concert is being recorded.

I don't mean to sound like a music snob, but there is a slight difference between Saturday night live music at the neighborhood BBQ joint and the Performing Arts Center!

Aren't you glad I came by to comment?! :-)

Kelley at Aroma of Joy said...

I can't count the number of musical numbers I have sat through. Piano, violin, flute, singing, dancing.....some being better than others. However, I have sat through more than my share of sporting events as well: baseball, football, basketball, track meets, cheerleading...and much, much more...And to think, my youngest hasn't even gone to Kindergarten yet!

Have a happy St. Pat's Day!

marina said...

Yes, i have been there too my daughter sang in the high school and those chairs ouch!!
it's like you are on a flight on Southwest airlines and you are stuck by the window and can't move!!it's so painful.marina

annie's eyes said...

Hey, we all have to do our time, and if we're lucky, they end up one day singing the National Anthem for their team and it makes you cry. Chorale music is another matter however.(yawn) I'm just sayin' but truly I'm still stuck on the first few lines--you're not queen? You definitely should be.

Ruthie said...

Ah yes. I, too, am a proud member of the bleacher brigade. Thanks for describing it so perfectly.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

All I have dealt with are preschool performances which truly are hysterical. But when I was a teacher, the music teacher did the SAME PROGRAM EVERY YEAR. She said it was because she was being traditional and all the kids really looked forward to 3rd grade when they got to be angels or 4th grade when they got to do the drums but whatever, we all know she was just lazy. Imagine how those parents felt - for 8 years in a row seeing the exact same Christmas performance. And us teachers, who certainly didn't think the kids were adorable and had to sit through umpteen rehearsals before the actual show.

Good times.

A Stone Gatherer said...

I agree on both counts! I feel so bad for kids that don't have a loving Mother and Father there to give them what they so desperately need! To know they are valued! We are fickle people too aren't we?!

Praise and Coffee said...

What a sweet post!
If I were crack me up.

Jenny said...

OK, I am a music teacher. I taught band in the public schools for several years before I became a mama. So... Linda...
I couldn't agree more!! I have always commented that I get SO bored in concerts. My husband is even a professional musician, plays with professional orchestras, and whenever I'm at a concert, I'm... bored. I do appreciate it, at a certain level. For about 5 minutes. Then I'm bored. My oldest is 5 and we haven't even started the recitals/concerts/games/etc. routine. Fun times.

Ann said...

What a sweet post! I especially liked the part at the end when your daughter eagerly waited for your feedback and your thankfulness to be able to be there to support her. And I was laughing when you described the different songs, that is so true!