A faithful “06880” reader — who, for neighborly reasons, wishes to remain anonymous — attended 2 recent school concerts. The music was great.
The crowd’s behavior was not.
The reader wrote:
At middle school performances and then the Staples Winter Concert I noticed (really impossible to miss) that as soon as their kids are done, parents get up and leave. By the end, when the sophomore orchestra was to play, I would wager that 60% of the audience had departed.
This is so selfish, it’s beyond me. These kids work hard, and the music is excellent. Even though my child was on early, we stayed to enjoy the whole show.
What can be so pressing that so many people must get up and leave, showing no respect for the effort all of the kids put in — not to mention the music teachers (for whom it must be really distressing)?
I guess it’s a reflection of the “me first” mentality that people seem to have adopted. And what was especially bad was when the man in front made a joke about leaving, as he got up to go.
The reader is right. But — to get myself even more worked up — I showed the email to Staples orchestra director Adele Valovich, and asked her reaction.
“I think we’ve lost our civility,” she said, politely but firmly. “Common courtesy — which was the norm, and which we took for granted — no longer exists in society at large.”
So, she said, “I think it’s our job as teachers to educate the next generation of concert-goers as to correct deportment.”
That includes, Adele said, “staying throughout the entire performance; not being distracted by texting, cell phones or newspapers, and not walking around in the middle of a piece.”
Education begins with music students, Adele said. “In rehearsals I talk all the time about staying until everyone is finished. But some kids say their parents make them leave.”
The orchestra leader does not want to “insult” parents. But, she said, “we may have to establish rules of conduct.” Through announcements before shows and emails to parents, music educators would say “we expect your children and you to stay for the entire performance.”
It’s “very discouraging to be the last group playing, and look out to see a very scattered audience,” she noted.
“As a teacher, I know how much work my students put it. They want to be acknowledged.
The most recent concert — the one the “06880” reader watched more than half the audience flee from — was “an hour and 10 minutes,” Adele said.
“I don’t think that’s an excessive amount of time.”
Adele suggested that “every parent imagine themselves in that last group of performers. That might change some behavior.
“I think as a society we’ve become very ‘me-oriented’ — in all situations. We seldom put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.”
Or, it seems, our own children’s orchestra seats.