I attended my daughter's choir concert last evening. She is in the school honor choir (an audition choir) and the sixth grade choir. They sang so sweetly - at least what I was able to hear.
Although I had a primo seat - third row near the center - and the choir was sufficiently large, I had a hard time hearing the music over the incessant talking. There were two young girls zipping back and forth in front of us, giggling and talking throughout the performance. I never saw a parent ask them to sit quietly. That does not surprise me, because the adults were louder than the children.
If the grown ups had been overcome with pride and unable to contain their praise for their children, I would have understood that completely. But that was not the case at all. The woman behind me was asking a family member about their next get together. Another woman was scoffing at the PTA, wondering what on earth they spend their money on. And of course there were the scores of fussy toddlers whose parents failed to take out into the hallway.
I was so disappointed. Again.
My daughters are quite active in the arts, and we attend lots of choir, band, and dance performances. This is not the first time I've experienced this. Okay, so maybe you don't really care about music or dancing. Maybe you only showed up so that your child would feel supported. But you know what? Your child worked really hard, for many, many hours, preparing for his performance. Your child memorized lyrics in a foreign language and behaved impeccably on stage. Do you not have enough respect for your child to sit and listen quietly? Will you honestly be able to tell your kid that you heard how well she sang? Do you turn away from your ball game when your child brings you his report card?
Make no mistake - I LOVE sports. My college alma mater enters the play offs this Saturday, and I'm trying to figure out how to teleport myself to Nacogdoches and be back in time for a dance performance. You know what else? Fine arts performances are not sporting events. It is poor etiquette to "shout out" in the middle of a sacred composition. It seems as a society we've forgotten how to sit still and be quiet and absorb the good stuff that is all around us. We seem to need to be stimulated every minute of every day. We need to feel a part of the action, I guess. This is not balanced.
I learned at a young age that if you are still and allow music (or visual arts) to envelope you, you can indeed become "part of the action." That the vibrations in musical tones can permeate your very body cells and stimulate you in a way you never imagined. That gazing upon color or motion can stir something inside.
I work with kids on occasion. I understand that they need to blow off steam and find outlets for their energy. And they also need to learn to sit still when the situation calls for it. They need to experience the beauty in things that are not flashing or ringing or banging. They need adults to show them how. This is balanced.