Nothing signals the impending end of the school year quite like the fourth and fifth grade Spring Band and
String Concert. Or, as my husband and I like to call it, "Name That Tune". It’s not that we don’t have an appreciation
for music- we can be equally moved by Gershwin or an Aaron Copeland symphony. It’s just that knowing our children’s
level of talent in this regard, we have no expectations. We can be quite confident when we tell you that neither one of them
is a future Yo Yo Ma.
It’s best to arrive early to these types of events, particularly if you have any intention of videotaping
your darling’s performance. Twenty minutes before the start of the concert, the front row looks like the phalanx of
photographers awaiting a presidential press conference. Greetings are exchanged as we parents, rushing from work and long
commutes, shuffle down the aisles to take our places.
Gathered together like reluctant church-goers all of us are perusing the evening’s program with
an "oh my God!" realization that we’re going to be trapped here for the better part of the evening. Suddenly, we realize
we didn’t get dinner-- the cookies in the lobby for the performers ‘post performance’ take on a new significance.
Onstage, the school principal is, once again, explaining just how to go about emptying one’s wallet
in order that the school might continue to offer this valuable school program.
And then, the music teacher takes the stage.
I believe there’s a special place in God’s pantheon for elementary school music teachers. No matter
how many years they’ve been teaching, they can still look heavenward after hearing several bars of some opus from their
little charges and say "Did you hear that?" as if heavenly angels had spoken.
Frankly, what I heard was the sound of a metal rake being dragged across a chalkboard. Fortunately, my teeth
are so firmly gritted together that the thought passes before I am able to blurt it out and do any real damage.
Bunkered in our chairs like a deranged infantry, we endure the onslaught to our ears. The around-the-world
medley, includes an ode for the beloved French ("Frere Jacque"), the Japanese ("Sakura, Sakura"- this is when we know the
Japanese won WWII), a nod to our Hollywood heritage (theme from "Jaws") and the ever popular "You’ll Never Walk Alone"
(nobody’s ‘walking alone’ after this concert; we’ll be running to our cars like deer ahead of a forest
It’s quite the night, actually. Our daughter is sawing away at her violin as if she’s attempting
to start a fire with two sticks and the hair of the girl seated in front of her. Our son, in the brass section, has inflated
his cheeks to a size not normally seen outside a family of rodents.
Throughout, there are smatterings of enthusiastic applause as a soloist steps forward, or we parents recognize
a melody. Every now and then you can hear a parent or two murmuring, like the proud parents in The Music Man, "That’s
And that’s pretty much what I’m thinking as my husband and I are greeted by our two children,
smiling, excited and glowing with a sense of accomplishment and pride: "Those are our kids!"