Wednesday, 6 June 2007

If Music Be the Food of Love, I’m On a Diet

I went to my son’s school Music Evening tonight. It was scheduled early enough in the evening to be a logistical nightmare for anyone with younger children, but not late enough to make it easy for working parents to get to.

The result was that all the front rows of seats in the hall were taken up by a coterie of glossy, fragrant mums, freshly dressed in cool white linen separates, relaxing their perfect posture only sporadically in order to share a few conspiratorial laughs at other people’s expense. Shoe-horned in at the back with laptop bags the size of rucksacks, were the creased sweaty suits and creased sweaty brows of the working parents. As several of them tiptoed in during the head teacher’s opening address, the area at the back of the hall began to resemble a refugee camp. When the loud electronic beeping of a mobile started to emanate from the jacket of one poor sod, there was a collective swishing noise from the front rows, as manes of salon-straightened hair revolved in unison to register the owners’ tight-faced disapproval.

After the jolly music teacher had arranged the choir on stage, and persuaded all the small boys to remove their hands from their crotches, the music evening began.

There is something really lovely about hearing children sing together. Any little mistakes make the performance even better, somehow. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of children playing musical instruments. As one nervous child after another made his way up to the stage, the assembled parents were treated to a form of aural torture that ensured nobody would nod off.

After about half an hour I started wondering why music teachers always insist on putting a few popular tunes in the repertoire. I can guarantee that if any child played whole sections of Bach or Beethoven incorrectly, the majority of the audience (myself included) would remain blissfully unaware of his mistakes. Pity then, the little boy who had to play ‘Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini’ on the violin. Perhaps it’s my fault, for just wanting to sit and tap my feet like a pensioner at a day centre, but as he valiantly see-sawed through the piece, each member of the audience started leaning slightly forward, willing the next screechy note to emerge on time, and not flat.

Back in the relative peace and quiet of my kitchen, I am relishing a cold glass of flinty, lemony Les Ruettes Sancerre (M&S about £9 a bottle, I think).

Thinking about tonight’s performance, I am wondering whether it was actually the audience that might have put the children off. Not only did the poor kids have to contend with the glare of laser-whitened teeth from the front row’s rictus grins, but they also had to block out the antics of the camcorder-wielding dads, who were busy reversing centuries of male competition by trying to see who had the smallest.


mutterings and meanderings said...

Dear gawd, those mothers sound like gorgons...

At least the school isn't so PC it's banned camcorders though!

Heidi said...

I spat out my lovely chilled rose when I read this, you nailed it there! very funny.. Do you think the kids actually want to perform? I remember I was made to do this and it was horrible, I was so terrified of making a mistake I cried for days beforehand.

Stay at home dad said...

Oh God. Those men again. We really are awful, aren't we... I refuse to buy a camcorder myself. Mind you, better not to capture my daughter's on-stage nose-picking and shocked vacantness I think.

debio said...

Oh ,dm, the number of times I've done that - not sat in the front row swathed in linen, but attended such a recital, I mean!
You have described it so accurately - and the camcorders, the whirring and clacking and flashing and FIDGETTING made me cringe for the parents on behalf of their offspring.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Drunk Mummy. Great to have you back. Although it sounds like you've just switched one form of wildlife for another...

beta mum said...

I have yet to watch either of my children "in" anything except the execrable school Christmas performances, at which I always cry when the littlies sing Away in a Manger, despite being an atheist.
At least they don't learn the violin - well, I wouldn't let either of them even if they wanted to... unless they promised to practise elsewhere.

Akelamalu said...

I'm a sucker for the Nativity plays, I still have a video of no2 son in his first stage performance! You're not allowed to video your children here any more incase you just happen to get someone else's child in the shot!

Motheratlarge said...

The life of a school music teacher must be a hard one. At least you could make your get-away. Nice observations. Enjoyed your posting. Downcast, though, that I probably have this ahead of me....

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ha ha ha drunk mummy, you['re funny.

were you sat right in the front row? I sort of suspect you were?

My daughter is regaling me with twinkle twinkle little star on her violin as I try to blot her out and type...i'm so horrid!

The Secretary said...

I have a 12 year old who has been playing the cello for two years - it is hideous and I keep trying to get him to give it up. Last year he had to play at the local music festival where lots and lots of schools entered their musicians. 4 hours of utter torture was had by all.

I am mostly drinking Gin and Tonic at the moment at the memory of it all!

Drunk Mummy said...

M&M - you are right - more like a well-coiffed hydra!

heidi - Poor you! I'm not sure if they enjoy it, or if it's really for the benefit of the parents.

SAHD - I didn't mean to sound so condemnatory of the dads! The kiddy nose-picking is always very prevalent at these events.

debio - it is rather grim - especially the fidgeting (that's usually me).

good woman - thanks for the welcome back. You are right about the wildlife - some of the kids definitely had a 'hunted' look about them.

beta mum - yes, the singing is always lovely, but the instruments are always a nightmare!

akelamalu - it does seem that using a camcorder around children marks you out as some sort of social deviant these days, unless all parents have signed 'permission' forms.

Hello mother at large!
The music teachers always seem to be really pleasant and jolly (it must be all that singing). Yes, your turn will come soon enough!

Pig - no, I am always skulking on the sidelines. I am not glossy or well-groomed enough to be permitted on to the front rows (and I can't be arsed to get there 40 minutes before the start).

secretary - G&T is a great anaesthetic! You are truly a saint to sit through 4 hours of music festival (shame you didn't take a hip flask!)