So, as a musician, I am very passionate about encouraging performing arts programs for kids. What I am not passionate about is going to see these performances. My older child has just started Junior High, so while I am holding out hope to see some improvement with school orchestras in the future, so far, the best way I can describe the performances I’ve seen, is ‘plodding along tunelessly’.
Probably my least favorite performance so far was the one I saw this weekend which was comprised of everyone in the class getting up and doing solos. Yes they are adorable, but once they put bow to string it’s almost as if Satan has condemned me to a life of eternal damnation on earth.
And if there’s anything I’d rather see than my kid going up and butchering a classic in front of a hundred people, it’s someone else’s kid getting up and butchering a classic in front of a hundred people, oh yeah, times about 40.
Now I know you’re all thinking what a horrible person and mother I am for being down on kids who are trying to perform and learn art, but talk to me again after you’ve heard about 20 different kids butcher ‘Ode to Joy’, an excruciatingly slow version of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ played on stand up bass, some tuneless attempts at Jingle Bells (in February no less), and, oh yeah, a version of ‘Wrecking Ball’ on cello, which sounded nothing like the original but may have actually been an improvement.
Now I understand that many of these kids are just learning their instruments and to those I say, hang in there, don’t give up, it will get better. After all, I know how it was when I started out, believe me.
But there were some kids up there who, unfortunately, had no hope. I know it must be awfully upsetting to try to encourage a child to take up an instrument and then realize you have made a terrible, terrible mistake. I would persuade you to nip this in the bud as soon as possible before any further suffering is endured.
There are many approaches you can take with this. First there is the Simon Cowell method where, you very bluntly tell your child, “I know that you have practicing, and working very hard, but your father and I feel it would be a great service for violins, ears, and humans everywhere if you were never to go near a musical instrument ever again in your entire life.”
Or you could be a bit more subtle. For instance: “You know there are so many great musicians, but someone has to be a fan. How about you?”
Or just simply: “Wow that was a really great performance. How about next time we try origami?”