At the sold-out Lang Lang recital Friday night, I was surprised by the number of children in attendance. And I don’t mean young teenagers or even tweens. I mean little ones—aged four and even younger.
Part of me understands the compulsion of parents to drag their little ones out to performances like this. After all, we’re living in a society where you can purchase earphones for your baby bump, where you can register your pre-mobile infant in classes ranging from music to swimming to sign language, and where libraries urge parents to sign their babies up for library cards before they’re on solid food. (And, let’s face it, babysitters don’t come cheap.)
But judging by the ceaseless fidgeting, squirming, and overt boredom exhibited by these tots, I can’t help thinking that no matter how much they enjoy their weekend Music Together class, a full-length recital is not the place for them. One little guy, who couldn’t have been older than five, distracted himself by playing with a crinkly paper bag for the first half of the concert, and then, for the second half, proceeded to stand up in his chair and make funny faces at the poor gentleman unlucky enough to be seated behind him.
Another little girl, also about five and in one of the prime onstage seats, couldn’t help but wiggle about, wave her hands in the air and flop this way and that, before collapsing on her mother in an overtired stupor.
There are plenty of age-appropriate events being offered by local presenters and performers. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has its Tiny Tots series, for example. But dragging your preschooler to a three-hour recital of Beethoven, Albeniz, and Prokofiev, and not even ducking out at intermission? That’s not education. That’s borderline torture—for everyone else in the hall.