MOM AND DAD ARE STILL THE MOST IMPORTANT AUDIENCE! Ask any young musicians who they want to have heard them play, sing, march, etc., and they will tell you, “My parents.”
Although we are living in a day and age where the family unit is struggling against divorce, economic strains, change in social standards, and a heavy emphasis on the “I, ME” concept of living, there is still a basic desire to “please Mother and Father.” When a young person spends countless hours in preparation for a performance, and a parent is not “on hand” to support and acknowledge this accomplishment, then something is “incomplete” for the student.
Granted, parents have all kinds of “extra duties” to handle and time is certainly at a premium. It is easy to rationalize: missing a booster meeting, promising to make the “next concert,” pleading “too tired for any more responsibilities.” We can always find excuses for not going the extra mile, and sure, there will be future booster meetings ….. and certainly other concerts to attend…..and, perhaps, there will be a surge of energy when we will look forward to extra responsibilities. (DREAM ON!!)
As music educators, our job is to teach MUSIC, maybe…..just maybe, we should also think about “educating” parents in terms of the WORTH of being “involved” relative to their son or daughter’s musical life. Heaven forbid, we would “TELL” them how to be better parents. Rather we might “suggest” the many benefits to them and to the relationship with their child via this kind of supportive participation. Since “Mom and Dad” ARE the most important audience, there is much to be gained when they are on hand to witness this musical accomplishment, not to mention what might be lost when they are absent.
When parents are present at a concert it says:
- They care about me.
- They support me in my musical growth.
- They think it is important I “go the distance.”
- They want to see me attain “EXCELLENCE.”
- The priorities in my life are important to them.
- I’m worth their time, even though they have other choices.
- They think my efforts are WORTHY…..and I’m WORTHY.
- They recognize my dedication and encourage my learning.
- They know “being there” means a lot to me.
- My performance and their attendance is an EXPRESSION OF OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.
It seems that so many parents think they are “just coming to a concert” when, in reality, they are attending a PERFORMANCE OF THEIR CHILD. We have all seen Mom and Dad give standing ovations to musical performances which left much to be desired.
They were not acknowledging the music, they were expressing their heartfelt PRIDE in the EFFORT put forth by their child. The worth of this action in regards to the self-esteem of the performers is immeasurable. It means: “All my efforts, all my sacrifice, all my learning was WORTHWHILE……I MADE A DIFFERENCE…..I COUNT!” Needless to say, the impetus to do even better is planted securely in the mind. (And the mind leads itself in the direction of its most dominant thought!)
Certainly, there is much internal satisfaction that comes from a fine musical performance; however, this may be reserved for a chosen few during those first few years of learning, practicing, and rehearsing while others are outside playing. Young musicians need all the support we can muster or the opinions for a “less difficult” activity may become more attractive. This is certainly a time in growing when they need us (parents, teachers) the most in helping to FOCUS THE ENERGY.
PARENT APPROVAL is the most potent fuel when it comes to ensuring success for any young person. Yes, we all want the parents to appreciate and understand Mozart, Handel, Wagner, Holst, etc. And, certainly, that will come with time, just as it did for us. But it is necessary for them to APPRECIATE and UNDERSTAND what it means to their son and daughter to have MOM and DAD in the audience.
If we can get them to attend just one performance, much of this mission is accomplished. The ENERGY which is generated via child/parent during a performance is addictive. It creates a “feeling” beyond words and brings the whole event to a new level. What parents would not want to be part of such an incredible experience?
Yes, there will always be those who never make the effort, but let us make sure we have “combed the ranks” to seek out all those who are unaware of what an important role they play in the musical growth of their child. Perhaps we will never get 100%, but we should not be satisfied until we’ve tried every trick in the book, and created a few of our own. Rather than explain WHY many parents aren’t attending, let’s put our efforts on getting them there. After hearing countless excuses and questioning yourself “is this is really all worthwhile,” just keep remembering…..for the students, “MOM AND DAD ARE STILL THE MOST IMPORTANT AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD!”