Anthropology of the School Concert

I attended the school’s variety show yesterday. I LOVE school concerts. I love the earnestness, the nervousness, the vulnerability. It makes me cry when the school band plays a song together. It’s an amazing accomplishment really to be playing a song on different instruments mostly together and pretty much at the same time. It’s easy to forget how hard that is.

Singing, dancing, and making music together is really humanity at its best; connected to each other, working together, finding our creative selves and creative others. It’s a beautiful thing.

Beyond that beauty though, I have to admit I also take a somewhat subversive joy in looking for the following types at the school concerts:

Beat-Behind Kid: This is the kid that does everything correctly, just a beat behind everybody else.

Sideways Looking kid: A sub-set of the Beat-Behind kid. This kid is never really sure they know what’s next and so is always keeps her neighbour in her peripheral vision to copy whatever that neighbour is doing. I may have a child in this category.

By-Halves Kid: If a full extension of the arm is required. This kid does a half extension. If a full step to the right is required, this kid does a half. Their faces tell a tortured tale of how they would rather eat their all-black shirt, no lettering, than have to be on that stage for one more second.

Doubling-Up Kid: In opposition to the By-Halves kid, this one DOUBLES all the choreography. An arm extension gets a jump for extra height. A step to the right is the equivalent of a long jump. If they’ve been instructed to smile, they will look hyterically insane. They may even add some choreography if they think the teacher hasn’t been thorough enough. It’s 50/50 whether you will get this kid off the stage. In the right circumstances, this kid can become the…

Dance-Step Cop: She (always a she) walks the dance line beat. She not only knows the number better than the teacher leading it, she is going to make sure that everyone within a ten foot radius is toeing the line and demonstrating an appropriate level of decorum. She, for reasons better left undiscussed, is my personal favourite.

Holy-Cow These Lights are Bright Kid: When the curtain opens and the lights hit this kid, he stands in shocked silence, his eyes the proverbial saucers. Some will hold their hands in front of their eyes. The danger of this kid is that he starts to believe since he can’t see anyone, no one can see him. My son falls into this category.

Is my Mom Out There?: Sticks head through curtain to check for loved ones. Abandons the number to give a shout-out to parents, grand-parents, baby brother, neighbour down the road. Gives some red-carpet poses for Dad’s camera while supposed to be heading for the song’s big finish.

The I’m Itchy Kid: Between moves this kid has to scratch his nose or scalp repeatedly with gusto, may even check his fingernails for whatever he found, then feels uncomfortable in his wool dress pants and has to do some adjusting. This kid is blissfully unaware that his antics will humiliate him for many years to come at Thanksgiving Day family dinner.

The Hockey Team — I love the grade one class presentation because none of them have any front teeth. They look like a dress photo for a miniature hockey team. Go Canucks!

And the bane of the teacher’s existence…Never Paid Attention at Any Rehearsals Kid. This one looks perpetually surprised that he has found himself on the stage. Who are these people? What am I doing here? What is this song? Why am I wearing a funny hat?

The parents of course fall into one category, the I’ll Have to Look at the Video Recording to See if I Enjoyed the Concert Parent. Gosh, we spend so much time recording our experiences that I’m not sure we let ourselves have the experience anymore.

I however didn’t even bring the camera. I applauded and clapped along. Giggled at the cuteness of the kindergarteners and generally embarassed my offspring with my beaming. I guess that makes me The Embarassing Parent. A role that goes beyond the school concert I fear.

So, tell me if I’ve missed any types. Do you love or loathe the school concert?

About Tentative Equinox North

Theatremaker, Homemaker, Thoughtmaker. Great hair, Probably looking forward to my next nap.
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5 Responses to Anthropology of the School Concert

  1. Heather says:

    I was at that concert (I do not even dare to think how many times!)

    Isn’t there the “I don’t care if you can’t see your kids I’m videotaping mine” parent?

  2. Persephone says:

    There’s also the “knocking over my chair while trying not to disturb other parents while photographing my kid” parent. That would be me.

    I’m afraid that, for me, the charm of the school concert wore off years ago. Youngest daughter is in Grade Six and I’m so damned relieved. The end is in sight.

    • Oooohhh Persephone. Let me make you feel better. Once, (I wasn’t at a school concert, but this relates) I had to go into my office and try not to interrupt a meeting that was happening in the open space outside my office. This meeting included a couple of cool artist types who I really wanted to think well of me. However, in my anxiety over appearing cool, I neglected to watch my feet, tripped on the stairs and basically fell into the meeting. I ended with a “ta-da” to really seal the deal.

      I totally sympathize with your lack of love of the school concert. The costume requirements alone make me cringe. And for a while they didn’t realize how dicey it was to let my eldest anywhere near a microphone. It spoke to her like the song of the sirens, and gave me many a grey hair.

      I guess I just gave in to the badness a couple of years ago, and decided to enjoy it for what it is. However, my littlest one will be going into Kindergarten in the fall, so I’ve got a ways to go before I’m out of it. I may be singing a different tune in a couple of years.

      You’re in the home stretch!

  3. Barb says:

    OMG I was rolling off the exercise ball I use for an office chair (so hazardous – don’t tell risk management) while I read the school concert thing – too funny and bang on! I love all those kids, love ’em so much I could cry right now thinking about then – as soon as I stop laughing. I’m a big fan of the school concert. The ELEMENTARY school concert. For the joy of seeing all those little people you described. It’s like being touched by God. Or something. Really!

    • @ Barb I promise not to tell the risk managment people. But I have to say I’m feel honoured to have caused a near mishap. Good distinction with noting the ELEMENTARY school concert. I start with the high school ones next year and I’m sure they’re not as charming, what with them having most of their teeth and everything.

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