My late father-in-law leaned over and whispered, “This is the hardest part of being a parent.”
We were all in pain, physical and psychological; we were all chilled to the bone and exhausted beyond all reason. We felt as though we were losing our minds, as dismal, unintelligible noises assaulted our senses. We were all trapped, and no one knew when release would come. Worst of all, we had to keep clapping.
Yes, it was a school concert. This was sometime during the third hour of our exile in a school gymnasium. We manually held our eyelids open toward three fourteen-year-old girls making vaguely soprano whispering noises to the accompaniment of a sweating pianist. It was, if I recall, part of a salute to rockabilly in medly form. A medly which should have been called, “When Will Death Come?”
Well, my husband and I have witnessed nine out of ten kids sing their way through an awful lot of schools. Some of them had sensible, humane, even brilliant music directors, some of them . . . did not. We are proud of our kids, and we like them, and all. We support them, basically. Some of them are even kinda musical. But I have a thing or two to say.
School concerts should not be three hours long. Never ever ever ever. I don’t care if it’s an excellent program bristling with stunning performances of world-class masterworks. IT SHOULD NOT BE THREE HOURS LONG. Anyone who has a school aged kid needs to be buying groceries, drinking gin, or asleep, and three hours away from doing those things is three hours too long.
Songs should be age-appropriate. Since these are school children performing for their parents, exactly zero of the songs should be about sex or lust. You can get away with some innuendo in high school, but otherwise, basta. Let’s all get together and demand not to be put in a position where we look like a jerk for not wanting to clap after a nine-year-old girl belts out an anthem about her burning desires.
And “dance teams” should be illegal. Hell damn fart. Where are the adults?
Kids shouldn’t have solos unless they are pretty good for their age. I realize this is crushingly harsh, and when I’m done with this essay I am going to go out and hit some flowers with my cane, but I still insist a solo is something you earn by being a little bit better than the other kids. I will make an exception if maybe a kid has overcome tremendous obstacles and has found a way to shine despite overwhelming adversity etc etc etc, and even though it’s not an objectively good performance, it really moves you. Fine. I just find it really hard to believe that all eleven terrible soloist are this particular type of shining star. I know these kids. They’re just regular mopes. Off the stage, mope. You dun sound so good.
Kids should perform things they are capable of performing, with maybe one or two “reach” numbers. If it’s the day before concert day and the sounds they’re producing make your skin crawl even mildly, go ahead and cut that number. Nobody in the audience is going to stand up and shout, “I say, choir master, I object! This program simply wasn’t long enough!”
If you let anyone beatbox, you should be shot. I don’t make the rules.
The teacher does not get to perform. I’m sorry, am I your mom? Are we all your mom? No? Well then! I guess we’ll just have to spend a moment of silence contemplating how sad it is that you ended up teaching the mouthbreathers in East Flupping Middle School chorus instead of dazzling Broadway, and then we’ll leave it at that, rather than enduring another encore of “How High the Moon” by Ms. Coulda Woulda Shoulda and Her Rather Startling Dress.
If you want to include an emotional ceremony commemorating the special relationship the students have with the teachers, and you somehow didn’t do this during the rest of the entire year that you had together, you get three minutes. THREE MINUTES. When this folding chair has been biting into my thigh for over an hour already, my last remaining bit of patience will be entirely transformed into white-hot loathing if we have to pause the program while forty-three girls in heels they absolutely cannot manage pick their way across the risers and totter over to receive a carnation and a hug and an award for some choir in-joke, and then totter back while everyone giggles and claps and sighs. It’s not that I’m cold-hearted. It’s just that I hate you all so much.
Yes. They need to not sit there slowly and sensually scratching their husband’s back all throughout the show. Gah.