APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association

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The School Christmas Concert

Posted by APATA | Nov 27, 2019

My youngest had his first school choir Christmas concert where he sang in public for the first time outside of school grounds.

Being the last of my children to go through this wright of passage I was there with proverbial bells on. Ting-ting-a-ling-ing with my camera abound on Saturday. Sweltering in the Queensland sun while the neighbourhood schools got up one by one to belt out their chosen tunes.

This 4 hour marathon is nothing, I understand, to the thousands of hours that thousands of parents and educators put in while they are fully immersed in the rehearsals, fittings and scheduling chaos that is end of year concerts and assessments across the country. Dance schools and music students who’ve never been on stage before are in the throngs of all that is Christmas and it really is a masterpiece of behind the scenes logistical operations.

Now I am perhaps the anti-thesis of a dance mum. My children have had no desire to participate in extra-curricular activities that would remove them from their home on the weekend for any amount of time and I have been ok with that. But the few times that they’ve become involved in something, I followed them whole heartedly, even to the point where I joined up myself if it meant they would stay involved a little while longer.

We arrived at the local oval to “bags” our spot and set up the camping chairs and picnic blankets with a couple of hundred other parents for the combined rehearsal of area schools. The MC for the proceedings and collective choir leader is a formidable force of patience, authority and musicality as she organises and runs through the collaborative choir numbers with 500 or so children. Anyone who can lead such proceedings without needing to raise her voice is an architect of teaching, wielding the power of the countdown to gain the attention of all in her view. The performing arts community has within its midst some of the most dedicated, productive and giving people on the planet. We owe a great deal to those who stick their hand up and say, “I’ll do it!”. They’re the ones who should be nominated for the likes of the APATA Contribution in Arts Education Award or the Cornerstone Award. Those people who are the backbone of every school event and every studio show.

This community concert is of course just a drop in the pan for families in the performing arts. I take my Santa hat off to the parents and carers that run around week after week coordinating pick ups and drop offs. Sitting through rehearsals till you could probably get up there yourselves and kick, tap and twirl if you had to. Sewing, starching, running lines, taxi service, laundry service, manager, secretary, dance partner, sparring partner, councillor, moderator and loving parental figure.

We do it because they love it. Their enjoyment is our enjoyment. Being a part of a team with an end goal, this is their Grand Final! Their teachers are their coaches who have guided them, trained them, run them through every move and every note until it becomes second nature. They’ve had wins and losses all year, but this, this is the big one and by gum we wouldn’t miss it for the world. We might not be able to see them, but we wouldn’t miss it!

The kids were great, standing in the unforgiving sun to sing for their parents and community, face paint melting. Families burnt and sweltered only until the sun starts to go down and then it’s pretty blissful.

The traditional Christmas songs were swapped for more modern choices with only a few of the old favourites making an appearance. The rides were free, the food trucks were plentiful and I even managed a power nap in my Jackie O sunglasses as we whiled away the hours until our son’s debut and then another hour and a half until the combined schools chorus. As we escaped to our car upon the arrival of Santa I surveyed the weather-beaten parents tramping around us. We did it, we got through, we have photos and video for proof. To all of those who have gone before us and who are in there now fighting the sequins, tulle, reeds and strings, thank you for all you do for your children and the children of others. Bless you one and all! Have a fantastic end of year concert, wherever you are!

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