As a music teacher, it is invariably part of your job description that you have to give a concert. I know many of you are immediately thinking about that Stones concert you saw where you were so drunk that they actually sounded good, or for you younger folks, the Jo Bros concert where you took off your purity ring and your bra and threw both onstage hoping to catch the eye of the one Jonas that’s not married or suffering from diabetes (pronounced Die-uh-BEET-us). I am talking about a formal presentation of actual music. Not old dudes trying to reclaim their youth and young “clean teens” prancing around the stage so that Disney can corner another market. Your concert should be an event where your students show up, dressed tastefully and professionally, and recite/perform beautiful music that they have worked hard to learn. Now, I haven’t been teaching that long, but I have given enough concerts to know that this is a load of horseshit.
If you ask a music teacher about their best concert ever, most teachers will tell you about a concert that they performed in. We were all inspired at some point to go into this profession, and this inspiration usually stems from a musical experience in which we have participated in. It’s only after we’ve graduated and likely stopped performing that our souls are crushed by the grossly uncultured children of our great nation. There was a point in my life that I loved concerts, loved performing, and yearned to be at the helm, baton in hand, conducting the finest choral literature ever written. Instead, I teach prepubescent middle school students who “ax” me questions and “don’t got no classical crap” on their iPods. Wow, dreams really do come true!
When I am not lamenting the fact that my students can’t sing Mozart, much less spell his name right, I am ripping my hair out, trying to organize and teach this mob something that sounds relatively like music and make sure they don’t look like back up dancers in a Bow Wow video. Concert attire is a huge battle for teachers. Every chorus from here to the Republic of Chad has, at some point or another, required their members to wear black on the bottom and white on the top. This is STANDARD concert clothing, not to mention standard LIFE clothing. Who doesn’t own at least one pair of black pants that aren’t jeans and a nice button up shirt that they can add a tie to? Apparently this wardrobe selection is not popular amongst school age children.
In my most recent concert, I actually had a girl show up in a white sweater and navy blue Juicy Couture sweat pants. I wanted to smack her and her mother across the mouth. First of all, who thought it was a good idea to get a 12 year old $98.00 sweatpants, and secondly, what about having the word “Juicy” scrawled across your ass screams “Formal wear?” I’d almost rather have the “hooker in training” sweatpants than the wide belts most girls try and pass for skirts. Where do they get these clothes? Is there some sort of store called “Li’l Lindsay Lohan” that people who still have a shred of decency are unaware of? It’s nice to know that they’ll be wearing their concert attire when they either get pregnant behind a Wal-mart or wash up on shore after missing for 5 months.
The guys are no better. We all know that 12-15 year olds are incapable of wearing black socks with black shoes, and if that were the worst of it, I would be fine. Apparently concert season is the same as mating season in the animal world. Did you see that Planet Earth episode with that Bird that dances all around trying to get a female? That’s what these boys do, only with their clothes. If they’re not sporting an overly “fitted” shirt that holds their abdomen in like a corset, showing off the muscles they are starting to develop, they are wearing something that will attract the ladies they’re too afraid to talk to at school. Attention Parents and Students: Ed Hardy and Sean Jean are not considered “dress clothes”. I’ll concede the fact that Diddy cleans up well, but his clothing line is not something I want to see outside an intercity bus station. Now boys, I understand that your shirt is white and that it buttons up, but it also has a dragon printed on the back of it. A DRAGON? Who thought that was cool? Dear Middle School Boys, No girl has ever uttered the phrase: “Look at that awesome DRAGON shirt?” You’re not cool. I know you paid $45 dollars for that shirt, but you’re never going to get laid…ever. It’s also not ok if you wear a red shirt. The sheet I handed out with what you had to wear said a SOLID WHITE SHIRT. Where did you get Red from? You’re not a matador, although when you wear crap like that, it makes me want to charge and gut you with a pair of horns. In addition to the above, your buttoned shirt SHOULD BE BUTTONED. I actually had a student in my select group last year get on the risers, sleeves rolled up, shirt unbuttoned, showing the audience his 3 chest hairs that poked out from the scooping neck of his wife beater…again, it’s called a WIFE BEATER!!!!! HOW COULD YOU THINK THAT IS FORMAL!?!?!?!?!?!?!
I never thought clothing would be such a hassle. I always had the correct attire for concerts. The teachers would tell you what you needed to wear in SEPTEMBER! Why is it now the night of the concert and you’re telling me, even though I have been mentioning for weeks what you needed to wear, you don’t have what you need and instead show up in a white t-shirt, black jeans, and the sneakers you clearly wear to mow the lawn? I used to use the phrase, “wear something that you would wear in church” but it’s clear that most of these kids have never set foot in a house of God. They are far too busy knocking off liquor stores, car jacking old ladies, and meeting with the Legion of Doom to plot the destruction of mankind.
Shoes are, to borrow a phrase my students use, ‘uh hole nuttha” issue. Guys know that they only make 3 types of Men’s shoes: Black, Brown, and Sneakers. Within these types, there are subcategories like Work shoes, or funeral shoes, or in this case “the Police will never catch me in these” shoes. Again, a nice pair of black shoes should be in everyone’s closet. They are always useful, and you can wear them with jeans and a sweater and pass for “semi-casual.” CONVERSE ARE NOT DRESS SHOES. How is it that so many people have Converse shoes? They are EXPENSIVE. You can get a pair of decent dress shoes at Wal-mart for under $20. Not to mention the fact that Converse shoes offer little in the way of comfort and put a great deal of strain on your arches! (The more you know…) Never the less, it is inevitable that some sweaty boy will show up wearing sneakers and will try to hide it. There’s no hiding it, you look like an asshole wearing a tie with your 6 year old sneakers. Shame on you…shame.
Girls shoes never fail to surprise me. I was unaware that Uggs are now acceptable dress shoes. Apparently I was living under a rock when someone decided that wearing footwear that makes you look like a yeti is “classy” and “appropriate.” I love being able to see the salt stains on them from your walk way and I very much enjoy the odor they emit because you wear them everyday, probably without socks. And you’re right, they DO go with that black mini skirt you bought at Charlotte Russe with the money you stole out of your mother’s purse.
Then you have the other extreme: the flip flop. As a general rule, if you wear it in a dorm shower, you shouldn’t wear it to a concert. I love Old Navy as much as the next cheap bastard, but just because they sell $2 flip flops, does not mean you have to by them and wear them, especially not to a concert…in December. I have no desire to see your gnarly toes, most likely poorly painted with some sort of glittery nail polish, staring at me from below your “Juicy” ass pants.
Then there are the heels. The heels you see now days kill me. First of all, my sisters did not wear heeled shoes until they were in high school. No, we did not grow up in the town from ‘Footloose’, my parents just knew better. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a girl that doesn’t own a pair of 3 inch clackers. Contrary to many of my fellow music teachers, I LOVE when my students wear these. I get a sick sense of pleasure wondering who is gonna bite the dust. I’ve seen it happen twice. Tight short skirt + 3 inch heels + bright lights+ risers + audience = face plant. I’ve seen 2 girls biff it on the risers, both times were equally hilarious. The audience always laughs, because let’s face it, they’re human, and they have to stand there and sing, all the while wishing they were dead. Both times I had students kiss the floor while trying to get on the risers, I made it a point not to make eye contact with them while I was conducting. It kind of ruins the mood in “Shenandoah” if you start laughing at the welt that is forming on that girl’s forehead.
One of my former colleagues was relentless when it came to concert dress. Now, there have been times where I didn’t allow students to perform because they were not dressed properly, but this guy was a master mind. He kept a file cabinet of white dress shirts, now yellow with age, a few pairs of black slacks (I call them slacks because that is what my grandfather would have called them, and they looked like something he would wear) and a few pairs of drill masters. Any high school marching band student will tell you that drill masters are probably the ugliest shoes you’ll ever own. They come in one style and look like a thinner orthopedic shoe, something grandma would wear with her compression hose. He would simply walk students over to the cabinet, make a few selections, and ask the student to change. If they refused, they were not allowed to go on stage and would take a zero. It was the most brilliant thing ever. I took that idea and modified it, threatening my chorus with our finest selections from the costume closet. I showed them things that would have made Amish women look like pin-ups, Nuns look like swimsuit models, things that would haunt their dreams. I know when they went home that afternoon, they felt cold shivers at the thought of velvet pants, ruffled shirts (think Seinfeld, but worse), FLOOR LENGTH skirts. OH, THE HUMANITY!!! And wouldn’t you know, all the students came dressed and ready.