I’ve done several of these day-care art shows before, and it’s a really nice night out for the kids and parents. St. John’s celebrated their 25th year of the facility, so they had the kids’ art up on display, with juice and cookies (!) and my music in an adjoining fellowship hall.
It was bigger room than I had expected, but I still figured I could command the area without a sound system. A toss up.
Still I engaged the drifting crowd, encouraging families to sit in close and take in the show. I had the dads and granddads wear red noses (several of the granddads wore them for the whole show!). It went well throughout the set, but became increasingly a raucous group of kids, separated from the parents, and I pulled it in at 40 minutes after the Knock Knock’s.
As I was paid, the director said that I was contracted for 50 minutes. I said, it was the appropriate length for the situation. I think she accepted that.
These events revolve on this condition. Is it a concert show or a side show? This was a side show, with folks drifting in from the other room, not committing to sitting down to listen and participate, leaving after a song. It was a gig, but not what it could have been.
I had the experience of a child with learning differences that provided a challenge. As I was weaning the kids away from the delectable array of instruments from the bag, one kid sat down next to them and started to try ’em out. Of course, the other kids started to stare at him and start to question authority. (which is, of course, good). Any way I interrupted the flow to subtly ask him to pull over. Over the course of the next three songs, he did not. At that point I figured that he simply reacted that way. Perhaps from lack of parental control, or perhaps that’s the way he was.
It did alter the course of the set and, therefore, the arc of the evening. But it was interesting that I could take in the experience and respond to it from my knowledge of multiple learning differences. I dealt with it without calling the kid out on his behavior in public, and all those other avenues I could have chosen.
There are so many choices we make as performing/teaching artists, as do profession teachers, in the moment. It’s good to recognize these moments and choices as they happen.