Chatty McChatface

I’ve run a number of concerts in schools for Christmas. For me, this is really important. It gives children a chance to perform proudly. It gives them a chance to learn something and really perfect it – I’ll often give a class or year group something that I know will take a number of weeks to really get good, and encourage their class teacher to practise it with them. Usually, it works. And the pride it instils is enormous. At least, that’s my opinion.

Fr every concert I’ll drill kids on how to walk on and off, how to hold their instruments when they move, how to behave on stage. This is from kindergarten (or even pre-kindergarten, when I ran early childhood classes), up to high school. I see this as really useful skills that can be taken anywhere with them – if they need to speak publicly, stand and receive an award – anywhere, really.

I take it seriously.

I have been criticised for this, you know. One principal wrote in a report that I was ‘intimidating’.  They didn’t say it to my face (maybe I was too intimidating? I write that cheekily. I can now see the funny side of this, but it took me some time…), but I suppose I could have been. I’ve been called bossy (but then I’ve been called that for years. Nothing new.). But I produce very good school concerts that run smoothly, and every child performs well. Most of them really enjoy it. Some of them surprise themselves.

And now I get to the point of this post. It’s actually not about the children performing. It’s about the audience.

I know that there’s no point asking why people video things rather than just experience them. I know I’m in the minority there. But why do parents stand up the back of concerts and talk (often quite loudly) during school concerts? Why do they allow their toddlers to run around the room (or even onto the stage?), or sit right at the front of the stage talking loudly? Can they not appreciate that it’s really hard to concentrate when this goes on? Or that I am asking children to do something they as adults probably couldn’t do – and it’s easier for the performers to do this in a quieter environment? We’re not at a barbecue, or the beach. We’re at a concert. And because they are organised to within an inch of their lives, they don’t go for very long.

I don’t understand it at all. I am even more proud of the kids who do focus, and perform really well. I am always amused when drumming starts – it’s impossible to talk over that. But I am perplexed as to why it happens.