We've all been there. Please don't try to tell me you haven't been. Out there in the audience of your kid's elementary school "musical" clapping away at their "beautiful" performance. All the while you know you've heard better music coming from Mrs. Klemma's overgrown fingernails grating against a 50 year old chalk board.
You're going to tell me, oh no, Keith, never. You go right ahead. I'm here to be honest and I'm telling you; I've been there.
Which is why when we were headed to Elliott's 4th grade musical last night I had my fake applause locked and loaded. My boy was going to get my best fake claps ever. I may have even practiced a clap or two on the way there to get it as authentic as possible.
On that same drive over Katie told me the performance was awesome. She went to the matinee presentation earlier in the day for the student body and the parents who wouldn't be able to attend in the evening. She wanted to be able to get some good pictures knowing she'd be completely mesmerized by the "beautiful music" at the evening session we'd attend together. Now I know I just admitted I've fake clapped. Shoot me if you want. But NOT ONE of those fake claps has ever been followed by a "that was awesome." Not from this mouth. Especially with the boy in the car and risking him thinking the nail scraping really WAS awesome. Talk about developing a warped sense of awesomeness in a kid.
The scary part was how sincere Katie sounded when she said it. Has she been practicing that line so long now she actually believes it?
So we got there and settled in with all the other parents. Most of them were armed with cameras ready to snap pictures of their favorite kid, which most of the time just happened to be their own kid. The beautiful thing about pictures is they capture the singing but not the song, if you know what I mean. The folks armed with video recorders - that's a different story. I would have advised against use of such equipment.
I will say this about elementary school musicals. They always start on time. This one was no different. But as the music started at 6PM sharp something VERY different started to take place. This musical was actually sounding quite musical. We weren't far into it when I realized Katie was right. They really did sound awesome.
The presentation was Music of the Cold - A new musical based on the poetry of Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen.
I was awed by how many different songs, instruments, dances, and spoken words were weaved into this 30-minute non-stop show. I found myself wondering how on earth these kids' teachers were able to get 120 kids coordinated and, dare I say - talented enough - to sing and play in tune and move exactly to where the music was supposed to lead them to.
I've coached a mere 10 flag football players with far less success.
I noticed something else. These kids were into the music. They had a passion for it. Maybe that's the key to moving them beyond nail dragging dreadful to astonishingly awesome. Passion.
It wasn't hard to see where that was coming from. It was coming from the front of the room, pouring out of their music teacher Ms. Ellenberger. Her hands never stopped moving. Whether they were clapping together or waving in the air to the beat of the music, the kids kept their eyes on those hands at all times. And her smile. It didn't leave the whole night. This was clearly a woman who loves music. At no point was that more evident than when she played her miniature guitar (which I'm sure has an official musical instrument name) at the end with the kids as they sang the old Beetles song: Here Comes the Sun. I swear I felt the sun for a minute in the middle of that gym.
Maybe Mrs. Ellenberger's love for music was contagious. Contagious for the kids. Contagious for us parents who, for at least one musical, were able to put their fake clap away. Because this show truly was awesome and drew applause that couldn't possibly be faked.
So well done to Ms. Ellenberger and Gandy Elementary and all the staff that assisted in pulling it all together. They indeed made some beautiful music.