Last week I took Hank, the fourth grader, to the symphony. Don’t be impressed. It was completely under duress. His class was going on a field trip and needed chaperones. It wasn’t my first time at the fourth grade at the symphony rodeo. I took James with his class when he was Hank’s age.
Hank was disgusted by the whole concept of being made to listen to classical music. In December, his class went to the ballet and now this? Fourth grade is a rough year for field trips for the Claunches. Unfortunately, James wasn’t doing anything to alleviate Henry’s ‘this is going to be boring’ worries. ‘Dude. It’s the worst. You’re going to hate it.’
Thanks Jamie, you’re being super helpful.
“Do you want the truth or a lie, woman?”
When we sat down in the Concert Hall Hank started voicing his frustrations.
Hank: “It makes me so mad to be here at the Civic Center where we got to see the Globetrotters play and now we’re stuck watching the Symphony! Why can’t they just take us to see the Globetrotters play?’
And, y’all, secretly I’m thinking ‘he’s right – why can’t they? Worst field trip ever. How are they going to make this interesting to the kids?’ But of course I can’t say that.
Instead I said:
Me: “Hank, the Globetrotters play basketball and they worked very hard to be good at it. These instrumentalists worked just as hard as the Globetrotters to be good at what they do.”
Hank: “The least they could do is have the Globetrotters be the ones playing the instruments.”
…Crickets Chriping…How am I supposed to respond to this level of insanity?…Like, he seriously just said that and meant it.
Me: “Well, now you’re just talking crazy.”
But actually, how cool would that be?
As we sat down the musicians began to tune their instruments. What’s that called? Come on, Google. Help me out here….Cacophony! The Cacophony. Can I use that as a noun?
You know the sound they all make when they’re warming up. Personally, I enjoy that sound.
However, after a few minutes of listening to the warm up, Hank leaned over with a shocked look on his face and whispered ‘Mom! I feel bad saying this but they’re terrible!!!’ I began to laugh. I let him know it hadn’t actually started yet – that they were just warming up.
When it started – it was beautiful. I mean, as beautiful as listening to classical music can be for people that aren’t into classical music. I would have LOVED for the conductor to have explained how the symphony works to the kids. Heck, show that Bugs Bunny as the conductor bit. Talk about how important classical music is in the movies. You know: ‘This is the first chair violinist. This is what his/her life is like. This is why I love music. I was this old when I first knew I wanted to do this. This is how we fund the Symphony. This is why Huntsville thinks it’s important’ etc.
Alas, none of that. Just music.
But, as I looked thru the faces of the kids there were definitely some that ‘got it’ – they sat up with a look of wonder in their eyes. It was very cool to see.
And then there were others…
Oh, don’t judge them. They were just pretending before it started – certain that’s what they’d be doing during the concert.
But then…Animals came out and that was much more interesting!
Fantasy Playhouse did a play and a parade with animals that they called the Carnival of the Animals set to to the music. It was really good. The kids enjoyed it.
On a side note: the good news is when Fantasy Playhouse saw me in the audience they didn’t stand up and say “IT WAS YOU! YOU WERE THE ONE THAT DISRUPTED OUR PRODUCTION IN 2013!”
The actors were really talented but the best part…well, the best part was definitely when the donkey’s head fell off midway through the performance.
True story: we got in the car and all five kids riding with me said the highlight of the concert was that donkey losing his head.
When we left I asked the kids what they thought. They all agreed it exceeded their expectations. Hank concurred.
‘Mom, it was better than I thought it would be…but it still would have been better if the Globetrotters had been playing those instruments.’
Just as Beethoven intended, child. Just as he intended.