As the end of the year draws nigh, you can always count on the schools adding to the hectic pace by having holiday concerts and performances. Really, there is no reason they have to make the end of the year busier. I mean, wouldn't you love a nice Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day show? Because, let's face it, there is no reason these need to be right before Christmas since they are "holiday" and "a season of stories and song" shows. As they have exorcised God and his holiday from the whole thing, I see no reason to tether school displays near the date of December 25th. But I digress.
First up was Morrigan's choral performance - "A Winter Choir Concert." [I'm digressing again BUT it is not winter yet, technically, and there is plenty of winter post 12/25.] We arranged for Mags and E to get a ride home from wrestling (thanks Jerry!) and were both able to go to the show, which was slated to begin at 7pm.
At 6:58, we were rolling! I do love on time ventures. The first song was Kyrie Eleison. Once I recovered from my disappointment that it was not the Mr. Mister song, it was quite lovely. We were then entertained by five more songs including You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, In December, and Winter Fantasy, all of which skirted Christmas themes but were appropriately secular.
Naturally, the night was not complete without the finale piece, Amani Utupe (Swahili for grant us peace, give us courage.) In what can only be called the tyranny of multiculturalism, every holiday show from my children's schools seems to be required to include marimbas, African drums or a Swahili song. As this is about the "holidays," I fail to see why we need for a nod to a particular continent of origin. Not to mention, most of the students are from a Judeo-Christian background. But I digress again.
Getting back on point, we were out of there by 7:17. I say, 7:17! We beat Jerry to our house. While one may be irritated to have arranged an entire evening around 19 minutes, the upside was it lasted 19 minutes!
In the "Grandparents only" department, here are a few videos of the event:
Not so with the next of our non denominational December outings. Maggie's school had a new music teacher arrive last year. And let's just be honest about it, his holiday concert was not nearly as good as his predecessor's. Personally, I chalked this up to inexperience. New school, new principal. Surely this year would be better, right?
Or totally wrong.
As opposed to being under 20 minutes in total, this one started almost 20 minutes late. The music teacher decided that we were going to branch out from the normal musical music performance and add in some story telling. All well and good but for the fact that it is MUSIC class. Gosh darn it, I'm digressing again. I may have to change the title of this post to "But I Digress."
The Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade started off the night with Snow if Falling. As is anything sung by wee little children, it was adorable. But then we were on to the story telling and acting, which was muddled with plenty of lost actors and confused narrators. Twenty three minutes in, four acts to go.
At this point, the Season of Stories and Song turned to, you guessed it, the Season of Multicultural Stories and Song. Second grade was Chinese New Year, third was The Boy and the Animals, a Zimbabwean Folktale, and fourth was The Parrot Tico Tango. It was long. It was disorganized. It was painful. The chaos on the stage during the acts was surpassed only by the between scenes buffoonery. But don't fear, there was plenty of marimba!
At long last, about an hour in, we had reached the last class, Maggie's grade. The teacher then took the stage and announced the kids had written their own music for the last number.
For the love of Pete, kill me now.
But it got worse. Instead of one large, written by 5th graders piece, he broke each class up into three groups (for a grand total of twelve, I believe,) and each group performed separately, in a disorganized mess, naturally. Each group would mount the stage, set up, perform their piece, and exit. Then the set up of the next group would start. Heaven forbid we have some sort of efficient transition. There was as much down time as actual performance which made the crowd restless and chatty. Not to mention, it was called Here is the Arctic Winter and as far as I could tell, was about the food chain in Antarctica. Luckily, the mood was brightened by bongo drums and the ever present marimbas.
Want to see the horror? Maggie comes in around 11 minutes in.
At this point, escape was in my grasp. But no - The entire school was herded back on stage for one final number that, in the ultimate bait and switch, was not listed in the program. The process of getting hundreds of children ready took a good five minutes. I captured some of it on video. Then they commenced to singing the schooby dooby wap opp a looby holiday song Maggie has been complaining about for weeks. While at least it was thematically appropriate, it seemed many of the children didn't know all the words. Later, Mags explained that was only the second time they had performed it without the words in front of them, making the lulls in the singing make more sense.
And the bait and switch finale!
The whole evening was rather comical as I, and another parent, who was two rows behind me, were essentially live blogging it on the facebook. Disrespectful, maybe, but it was a small price to pay for my sanity.
If E happens to get into PLATO and is at Highland for this debacle next year, I think we'll opt out. I do understand that the schools have to be religiously sensitive but I'm not expecting Silent Night. Every parent in that room really could have gone for Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, or even Jingle Bell Rock. Hell, I would have been ok with Katy Perry's Firework (which they sang two years ago, under the previous regime.) If you are going to make my already jam packed December calendar even more full, I want a holiday show, darn it. I'm pretty sure Swahili songs and Zimbabwean folk tales will play just fine in February. Besides, Eion won't mind missing it. He loves to stick it to The Man.