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This week I have a proud mummy brag. My DD (the lovely Teen) has passed her grade 5 Music Theory exam with merit! She was not keen to do the exam and wouldn't have bothered except that to continue to the Clarinet Grade 6 you have to have passed the Grade 5 theory exam. She can read music of course and has been studying music since she was 3. And no, I'm not some wild tiger mother that beat her with a violin until she played correctly. She went to a toddler music group, Kindermusik, that is fun for little ones and teaches things like rhythm, keeping in time with others, following a conductor, looks at beats and speeds etc. She really loved it and at about age 5 she moved up to recorder and then on to the clarinet. So anyway, she passed and I'm proud.
Music is important for humans (and possibly some other animals too) and children have been shown to benefit from both playing and listening to it, so I was surprised to read a BBC News story in which a musician of some standing criticised a child and berated the parents for some concert disruption in the form of coughing.
But the 66-year-old took offence at a child coughing during her performance of Mozart's Sonata In G.
"Maybe bring her back when she's older," she scolded the parents from the stage.
I don't know about you but I sometimes cough in a concert (or theatre, or cinema) and you do your best to muffle it but mostly life (and the concert, play, film etc) goes on. Of course a prolonged hacking fit of coughing would make me leave but just a bit of coughing? I guess I might hope to find something to suck (behave!) in my bag but that's all. We are humans, silence is not always possible.
And what of the strange idea that a child is 'too young' for a concert? Can that be right? Are there 'adult only' spaces and if there are should they at least be clearly marked? If a concert plans to be adult only should it not at the very least say so on a ticket? I took my own daughter to many public spaces from when she was a baby and although I would take her outside if she was noisy for any length of time (I'm not a sociopath) I don't see that a baby or child cannot experience and enjoy music just as an adult can. Even the Royal Festival Hall are quoted as saying "We don't discourage parents or carers who wish to bring young people to an evening event".
So what are your thoughts (and do mention if you are a parent or not!) Do you get annoyed by children? Are there too many 'free range' parents that allow children to dominate public spaces or should we be prepared to share?
I like to think I take a middle ground, sharing spaces has a responsibility to others in the space and as a parent I take responsibility for my child, but as for the odd cough, I'm not convinced that warrants complaint.