Remember, We Can’t All be Mozart


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As many of you know, I am a middle school band director. It is spring concert season in schools across America. When parents go to view their children’s spring concerts, recitals, dance recitals… Or any creative event, there are some things I ask, no beg, parents to keep in mind during the performance.

Please remember, no matter how convincing or unconvincing their performance is, how they sound or what they put out to show others, it not only is a grade, it is something they have worked hard on for weeks, if not months. No matter how it sounds, clap, cheer, think of the hard work of all the students to put this show together, not only your own child. It takes a lot of courage and teamwork to present a finish product in any of the Arts.

When you are distracted during your student’s performance or show, whether it’s talking to others or on the phone, they notice. You student is constantly searching the crowd for your smile and encouragement. When they do look up to you, it can crush their spirits if every time they look up daddy is texting.

Make sure the concert is over before you rush out to use the facilities or take a call, and please make sure your kids aren’t running around the performance area! It’s so distracting to everyone involved and the kids could damage something. The best time to go do things during any performance is in between numbers or when someone is introducing something (but the best time of course is after the performance!). Of course if it’s an emergency, Blood, poop, and meltdowns do what you can to make it out right away. People always understand those sort of emergencies.

Don’t bring food to any showing or artistic event. Just don’t. Don’t leave trash around either. A lot of the venues children play in, or have shows in, are rented and there is a clause in a lot of rental contracts saying if the place isn’t clean of debris they get charged extra (to pay their janitors extra to clean). So that means, anything left behind the person in charge has to take care of, chips, soda, used diapers, you name it, I’ve found it. No one want to pay that extra fee. As a public school teacher, I can tell you I’ve used rented spaces and our school and in both cases, the janitors aren’t paid to throw out milkshakes and dirty diapers. They are paid for normal upkeep, not picking up 200 programs scattered throughout the gym. If the venue is left dirty, the space may not be donated the next time, or even if we want to pay to use the space, they will refuse our business. Also think about this: after the director or teacher stays all afternoon, calms children’s performance fears, decorates, sets up chairs and all that, then guides the children through the performance, then they speak with a lot of parents and community members, and then they have to clean up the venue. That’s a lot of work! Just try to think about them please. (Although some educators receive a bit extra in a stipend for concerts, it’s not a lot, I receive $25 myself for 1 concert a semester. Considering all the preparations and tear down plus extra cleaning; well, think about how you would feel, cleaning up used diapers and spilled drinks. (that were not your own.))

When clapping, or congratulating, make sure it’s done at the proper time. Most events have a program. Look at the number of songs and if those songs have sub listings under the title. If the program has songs with sub listing this means, there are movements and there should be no clapping in between movements. On the other hand, make sure you do clap after every song, no matter what. This goes for recitals and dance recitals. At art showings please nod pleasantly at all artwork and keep any less than positive comments, to yourself. You do not know where the artist is, especially children (they are quick little people).

When your child performs and it’s not stellar, don’t put down the group. Maybe you think that blaming the other kids for how it sounds is a good way to blame others for the supposed failure but actually, it makes your kid feel ashamed too. After all, your kid works with these other people and it cheapens what they tried to accomplish. They hear how you feel about the group and decide based on your commentary to quit. When they do, I promise, months to a year later, students will approach that teacher and tell the teacher, in confidence, “I miss it.” Which is probably the saddest thing to see in a young person’s eyes, regret. Young people shouldn’t regret.

If these things are kept in mind during your child’s, or nephew’s, or niece’s, or grandbaby’s next artistic event. Not only will they feel like a boss, with all the complements you give, but the teacher will think you’re awesome too. NoT to mention you will impart important etiquette lessons onto this youngster!


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