On Monday night, our daughter performed in the Combined String Ensemble at the Festival of Instrumental Music 2016 at Sydney Opera House.While a professional music critic might discuss the repertoire or wax lyrically about the wonders of Public Education, this is a parent’s perspective…the views of Mum-on-seat.
As soon as every parent entered the Main Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House, they had one thought on their minds…spotting their little darling. This was no easy task either given the sea of recorder players. I don’t know how many recorder players there were but it might have been a thousand. Maybe even two. To make matters worse for parents unable to find their own, there were enthusiastic waves and smiles from kids who’d spotted their loved ones…just to make you feel even worse….a sense of desperate loss…where are they?
In desperate scenes reminiscent of losing your child at the Sydney Easter Show in the huge, amorphous throng, the poor usher was being inundated by anxious parents: “I can’t find my child.” I was surprised the stage wasn’t swarming with cops, detectives and sniffer dogs hunting these kids down, so these kids would finally give their xparents a wave and put them out of their misery.
Well, when it came to finding our daughter, we couldn’t even find her instrument. We were surrounded by recorder players on all fronts, but could only spot much older students with strings and they weren’t wearing the T-shirt. Miss had really outsmarted me and the camera this time and taken 250 string players with her. Now, this really was looking like a case for the Police.
Well, it turned out that the Combined String Ensemble was a featured performance and they’d come out onto the stage during the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see our daughter at all but we at least saw some violins and had a close-up view of the cellos and double-bass. I wasn’t expecting to see her, but it would’ve been fabulous.
After all, we went through this last year when she performed at School Spectacular. She was but a speck in the huge multi-school choir and we had to watch the TV coverage on slow-mo to even catch a glimpse.
By the way, if you’re a parent, grandparent or some other form of child taxi driver, have you ever stopped to consider what you’ve learned along the way and how through being this supposedly passive background person, you’ve also been inevitably extended in some way?
Five years ago, I took up the violin to help our daughter get started. She stopped but I kept going and she only came back to it at the start of this year and has worked pretty hard to get herself Opera House ready.
However, that wasn’t all. As I’ve sat in the audience watching her and other students perform at the Sydney Town Hall, School Spectacular at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, now the Sydney Opera House and even at the local school, I am being embraced by all that music. I am hearing instruments I’d never think of going to see and my awareness, understanding and love of music has grown exponentially. I have started going to more concerts and have been taking my kids, sowing all kinds of seeds. Seeds, which may not germinate or bear fruit today or tomorrow, but one day, note will follow note…either as a player or equally important, as audience.
Moreover, music touches our souls in ways so far beyond words and expression. We can leap for joy or perhaps find solace in a more sensitive, reflective piece. It can also unlock and release our inner junk and garbage, like releasing the minotaur out of the labyrinth
After all, music was never meant to be a chore…even if we do need to practice, practice, practice to find our way to the Opera House.
It is meant to set us free.
And to think this journey all started out, simply by driving Mum’s taxi.