It’s A Crying Shame

Stephanie Legg

I am a self-confessed lunchtime concert addict and I think in the time my addiction has grown, I have not only attended an insane amount of concerts but unfortunately I have also witnessed some rather disappointing human behaviour. For example……Would you take a very small child to a classical concert? Perhaps you thought, ‘It’s a Saturday afternoon and as there happens to be a free lunchtime recital of Chopin at our local church, what a nice and affordable way of exposing my child to some classical music’. Good choice.

However, should your child make even the slightest noise during the performance, it may not be the performer who is particularly phased but the elderly gentleman sat in the row behind who might become very vocal about the ‘choices you are making as a parent’. His opinions are possibly interrupting the performance more than your child at this point. You might think this is a rather ridiculous scenario but it is one that I have seen a handful of times.

I’m talking mostly about out-spoken audience members. The kind that should someone show up late…..well, if looks could kill….or god forbid you should clap between movements, you may as well never show your face in this town again. For me, it all seems to fall under the ‘classical music snobbery’ umbrella.

I find this all rather baffling as the perpetrators I am discussing here are perhaps not classically trained musicians like myself, but simply regulars of these lunchtime concerts. I can understand how this may be their peace and quiet time and that putting up with a child’s wailing would be less than ideal, but is it really the parent’s fault for attempting to add some culture into the lives of their children?

On this particular day in question, as the performer was half way through Chopin’s Aeolian harp etude, the child in question was half way through the tantrum etude. Now I will be completely honest, I was getting a little irritated but, although this could just be the polite English stereotype, I would never in my wildest dreams open my mouth and blast a mother for having the audacity to bring her child to a concert and not leave, simply because the kid wasn’t deadly silent.

It is a difficult situation as on one hand, it’s great because these concerts get people out of the house and enjoying the arts, especially from a young age. On the other hand, there are existing organisations such as Mini Mozart, which are classes that parents can take their babies and young children to, where everyone can enjoy classical music and story telling. The only issue here is that, guess what? People have to go to work during the week – which is when most of these classes take place. To find a free Saturday lunchtime concert nearby and to not make the most of it because you are worried that others may judge you if your child cries, isn’t right.

If we want children today to grow up with a balanced education, an appreciation of the arts and the ability to develop their own thoughts and opinions then we have to compromise. Do we want to enjoy lunchtime concerts with no interruptions and have to scare mothers away in order to achieve this? Or do we want to encourage and inspire a generation of people who love music from an early age and maybe have to put up with a little bit of background noise now and again?

I am a self-confessed lunchtime concert addict and believe that classical music is for everybody.

If you’re interested in bringing your child along to free lunch time recitals, have a look on the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance’s website for information on free lunchtime concerts happening in and around Greenwich.