Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dumbing Down of America: Exhibit 1
The Horrid Chorus Recital

Last night my friend, "Barb", and I went with my boyfriend, "Rick", to his daughter's middle school chorus recital. He blithely recommended earplugs, but we were still enticed to go because they had a very nice catered dinner that accompanied it.

It was horrid, but at least the food was good. And everyone seemed to agree, though I doubt they'll tell their kids or the teacher that. I'll bet the Principal gets no complaint letters, and the whole mess is proclaimed a success.

The sound system was poor, but that should have made no difference if the kids could sing. But the chorus teacher had apparently never taught them about projection, how to properly use their voices, or how to perform well.

Afterwards, we asked Rick's daughter if the teacher gave individual lessons and she said that the teacher did not. We were surprised, but it explained why the kids were universally awful with the exception of one girl who obviously either has private lessons or a parent that's been on the stage.

With no one to work with any of them individually, these kids have a passive group mentality and are content to graze with the herd instead of soaring with the eagles (with that one exception). Their voices were wispy and insignificant, and their accompanying dance moves were half-hearted at best.

I understand shyness, and remember the middle school years and it isn't with any fondness. But I also took chorus. My curmudgeonly teacher insisted on our performance being top-notch. We may not have been perfect, but we tried.

These kids didn't try.

Queen's "Somebody to Love" was terribly butchered by a quartet who interrupted their performance halfway through to have one of their singers do some ballet moves about the room while they were singing (or perhaps I should say whispering) off-key. It was the only part that elicited applause, as it was the only part done well. The two pretty girls were given the leads, and the accompanying fat girls whispered the chorus and looked uncomfortable.

A couple other girls sat down to a duet of some depressing modern song and, thankfully, the only thing that stood out was their shocking pink and black striped stockings. It was a delight to not hear their voices, although occasionally our dinner was interrupted with an untimely squawk.

I could go on about this, but you get the picture. With a couple of rare exceptions, the performances were truly terrible.

This is, again, where so many modern "arts" teachers seem to fail. Since standards were higher at one time, parents could expect better performances. But now everyone is afraid of expecting anything better than average (or even below average) for fear of offending or discouraging someone.

So, our expectations and standards are lowered, and we're subjected to lowered quality, too. Someday they will no longer even bother to have recitals, and I await that day with great anticipation, because I don't see any way that we can regain our standards that we lost so long ago.


The Lazy Iguana said...

At least nobody in the audience stood up during "Somebody To Love" and said "HEY!!! Who sings that song?? Queen??? GOOD! LETS KEEP IT THAT WAY!"

That would have been bad.

Nobody pays attention to fine arts anymore.l If a budget has to be cut - it is from there. As a result many fine arts teachers are done. If they only allow the "good" people to stay, then they end up with 10 students and then their program is cut.

And then there are the students who could care less about singing, they are just after one of the easy grade classes. Hey - anyone can remember the words to some dippy pop song! And its not like you have to learn to play a musical instrument like you would in band class. So you take chorus.

I suspect this was middle school. The school year just started. They might get better.

Confucius say said...

Man who run through turnstile, going to Bangkok.

Uncle Joe said...

Bad music teacher.
Great food.
We see where the money has been invested.

undergroundlogician said...

Dear Saur:

Sadly, it's really your attitude that is wrong here. If EVERYONE were committed to mediocrity, including audience members, then everyone would be happy. It's performance snobs like you and me that make middle school girls cry; it's always our fault, and that's universally bad, even to moral relativists. THE cardinal sin in our society is the ruffling of emotional feathers. This is the essence of political correctness.

Luckily, in a couple of generations, after we die off, we'll have a society in complete lock-step with the infinitely wise-ones, a Brave New World that won't be hampered with our arrogance and unjust expectations. This is the change we can look forward to.

Fred said...

Teachers can't give individual attention to kids nowadays. We have too many of them and since I'm not allowed to be alone with a student, I can't tutor, either.

The educational system we live in disadvantages our children at every turn. It can be depressing at times.

M@ said...

You just critiques a middle-school stage performance!?


Saur♥Kraut said...

m@, When you have kids, if you are intelligent you will have the same worries. I believe you to be intelligent, so I'm betting you will definately be concerned about the education this generation is getting. Remember, these are going to be our future doctors, lawyers, and more.

Besides, it's just plain kindness to not torture your audience.

Fred, Really?! Even the music teachers can't give private lessons?

Yeah, you're right: It IS depressing.

UL, You and I see eye-to-eye here. You get it. And strangely enough, my post today continues this theme.

Uncle Joe, Ah so very true.

Confucius, I'll have the roast duck, please. And a side of friend rice.

Lazy Iguana, That would have been FUNNY.

Good observations about the fine arts budget and the students lack of enthusiasm. You're right, it was middle school.

At least she's in 8th grade, so we won't have to go through another middle school performance. Hopefully H.S. will be better.

The Doozie said...

THat is precisely why I never make Walter participate in those stupid "concerts". I hate them...HATE THEM. Mediocrity, thats right.