The Winter Concert

Last night, The Narrator had his K-6th grade winter concert at his school. The kids did an amazing job on all fronts, but the program as a whole felt forced. Now, before I begin, I have NO problem with diversity and social equality. Everyone SHOULD be treated the same, and nobody should be victimized for who they are, or what they believe.

When I was a kid, the school called it the “Christmas Concert.” I remember singing all manner of songs. Everything from the fun “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to the reverent “Silent Night.”

Now, the concert is called the “Winter Concert”…not even “Holiday” anymore. The songs were incredibly watered down tunes that you could tell were written to make sure nobody got offended. Again, the kids did a beautiful job with what they were given to work with, and they all looked so nice dressed up on the risers.

The playlist was short, the whole thing lasted about an hour, and it really was fun, but you could just TELL that the effort was being made to let the kids have their concert, but make sure that nobody got their feelings hurt. A tiny, white-bread town in the mountains of NY had an entirely white 5th and 6th grade sing a song about Kwanzaa. Again- NO problem with Kwanzaa, or those that celebrate it, but the tune just seemed to be thrown in there as if the school was saying “See? See? We included everyone!”

The reason I mention all of this, is to demonstrate a shift since ‘back in my day.’

I remember one year, (Same school by the way) we were set to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” It was going to be the finale I think. The school almost yanked the song from the program because of the line “Imagine there’s no heaven.” People had called the school incredibly enraged about that. I distinctly remember my mother, who raised us Catholic, telling me when I asked why there was such an uproar “I don’t really know. Its just a song. Sing it.” So I did, but I THINK I remember them cutting that line out, just to appease the cranky.

Remove religious references, people are angry. Include religious references, people are angry. The schools, or really any public entity- simply cannot win, so they’re forced into a watered-down concert that felt less like a holiday celebration where the kids’ talents and hard work could be recognized, and more of a “Everyone get in here and see how PC we are” event. Those concerts back in my day were massive affairs, held on a Friday night because it would run late. There were refreshments afterwards, and everyone had a great time, even the kids, nervous though we were when it came time to perform.

Now it’s a 1 hour program in the middle of the week with each group of kids singing two songs, a couple of band performances, the finale, then BAM…outta there, almost as if we were rushed out before someone had a chance to be offended at even the mild content of the music that was showcased.

My BIGGEST complaint though, had nothing to do with the school or the music, but my fellow audience members. Apparently the request to “Please turn off your cell phones and electronic devices” applied only to me, because as soon as the first note was played….out came the phones. And one guy in front of me was merrily taking video with his iPad.

….and we wonder why our kids can’t follow directions? Probably because we as parents refuse to follow them ourselves half the time, and as anyone with children can tell you…Monkey see….Monkey do.

I’ll be back this weekend. Training is nearly over, and I have a job interview tomorrow, so I’ll be back to the regular grind….just in time for the Christmas break.


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