Thursday, March 25, 2010

All I Really Need to Know I Learned at an Elementary Band Concert

No, seriously. I went dragging my feet and came out enlightened. And I chalk it all up to the Lamb Chop Rock.

  1. Titles matter. What kid would have wanted to play the piece, and what adult would have wanted to hear it, if they had called it Mary Had a Little Lamb and Added Some Percussion? Which is an accurate description of Lamb Chop Rock, only the former title is dorky and the latter is too cool for school.

  2. Hearing it live gives it that special something. The concert opened with a fanfare, and the initial boom and crash made me jump in my seat (er--bleacher). Live music--any live art--has a special power. This is why the movies never killed off live theater and recorded music didn't kill off concerts. The same rule applies to books. A woman who came to one of my bookstore events told me afterward, "It was so different to hear you read it. Much lighter. I didn't know it was supposed to be a funny book." (!!!)

  3. We sound better when we collaborate. Believe me on this one. My offspring was there to play the trumpet, and it took months at home before she sounded like anything other than a baby elephant slowly deflating as it got run over by a tank. Only in the last month was I able to recognize any melody. But put all together with a full band--! Which explains why, although the second I finish writing something I'd dearly love to foist it upon the World, I'm waiting (im)patiently for my readers' feedback. Sigh.

  4. And finally, Art Begs for an Audience. If a tree falls in a forest with no one there, does it make a sound? If a child does something and a parent doesn't acknowledge it, did it really happen? If dozens of children torture some band director with Lamb Chop Rock rehearsals for months on end, but no one ever hears them but themselves, was it all for naught? I think this principle is especially true of writing. If you write your heart out, and no one ever reads the danged thing, have you done anything besides waste paper? The silent tree fell in the forest for nothing. Not environmentally responsible.
There are exceptions to every rule. Prior to the band concert yesterday, while my oldest was at choir and my middle at baseball practice, my youngest sat on the couch strumming a guitar she'd made from taping rubber bands to a piece of cardboard. With no audience at all, no back-up singers, no percussion, she proceeded to give her own live concert: The Star-Spangled Banner, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, This Land is Your Land, America the Beautiful. But that's Lucy for ya. The rest of us, we have to play by the rules.


  1. I love elementary school band concerts! Call me crazy. Even with their abysmal lack of playing in tune, there is still something so sweet about them.

  2. I've been to several Junior High band concerts this year and am really enjoying them! So if you can hang on with the elementary ones, it's amazing to hear the progress. Bless those elementary band directors for enduring the rehearsals and turning our kiddos in to musicians!