Spent the last two evenings at the Kennedy Center, at two wildly different events. But the most important thing I learned had nothing to do with either the performers or the content. Rather, I was reminded how difficult it can be to incorporate concert-going into one’s life. (And in case you’re wondering, I’m sticking to my guns: I don’t blog “reviews” of concerts.)
Just Do It
We gnash our teeth a great deal about getting audiences’ butts into seats. But I have great admiration for anyone with enough get-up-and-go to actually make it to a performance. At the end of the evening I’m always (almost always…) glad I went, but at the beginning I’m usually wondering what in the world possessed me. (Kind of like going to the gym.)) After a full day of work, a pitiful smattering of housewifery (groceries, dinner, laundry, whatever), and the latest skirmish in The Great Homework Wars, by the time I get in my seat I’m ready to snooze.
No wonder I look out over the audience and see few age peers. Last night there was a huge contingent of patrons older than myself, and a reasonable representation of younger students and music-lovers. But those of us in the trenches need art and entertainment (go here and here for today’s entry in the art vs. entertainment battles) as much as the rest of the world, but it’s a hard sell. If I didn’t work in this business, would I go??? Or would I be one of those stay-at-home-buy-a-CD people that we producers and presenters love to hate? The rewards of live music are significant, but you can’t experience them if you don’t haul yourself to the hall.
Get ‘Em While They’re Young
This morning I seized the opportunity to visit the Cypress String Quartet as they spent time with middle school students in a DC-area school. They do “outreach” (a useful term, but one that many people dislike) extremely well – playing terrific music and talking comfortably and openly to the kids about it. It was an interesting counterpoint to my grumpy theatre- and concert-going this week.
If we are able to bring music (and dance and theatre and art) to young people, and do it in a way that imprints itself strongly and positively on their minds and hearts, then maybe when they grow up, they’ll not be as ambivalent as I am about pushing through their grouchy fatigue to get to a concert.
Kids are most definitely not easy targets for this stuff – it takes good material and an honest approach to win them over. But it’s worth the effort. If the music sparks their imagination and touches their hearts just once, it may be enough to keep them coming back for more. And each time, it may be easier for them to remember how sharing in the experience of live music feeds our souls and gives us perspective and energy to get back out there and tackle the world. (Well, maybe not the Homework Wars, but almost anything else…)
Not blogging over the weekend – see you Monday or Tuesday.