School Concerts – the Agony & the Ecstasy (but mostly the agony)


The Primary School Concert – an annual event which has been striking fear into the hearts of parents, teachers and students for decades. Frankly its time somebody stood up and asked ‘Hasn’t this gone on long enough?’

Dadabulous vividly recalls being forced to play the glockenspiel in front of an audience at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre during the late 1970s. Surely this must have contravened the Geneva Convention. That he made it to middle age without  psychological scarring is testimony to his strength of character. My memories are unarguably even more traumatic. In 1981, at the Gymea Bay Primary School Hall, my 5th grade class was coerced into miming along to a medley of Rolf Harris songs. Oh the humanity!

Implement of torture.

Implement of torture.

The early 80s was an unenlightened era. We failed to recognize true perversion even when it was staring us  in the face. ‘Two little boys had two little toys’, ‘Tie me kangaroo down sport ‘ and shudder ‘Jake the peg with my extra leg’ all seemed perfectly normal at the time. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see how sick and twisted it truly was.  Fortunately things were better for the rest of my school – but not much. For instance a 4th Grade class was made to do a lack luster dance routine to The Captain and Tennille. Whilst love kept the whole thing together  – just, all I can say is DONT do that to me one more time. (Boom Tish)*

Won't somebody think of the children?

Won’t somebody think of the children?

Obviously Australian society has failed to learn from the mistakes of the past and the Primary School Concert baton has been handed to to a new generation. Our turn rolled around last Friday evening. It was two hours of my life that I would have otherwise spent scrolling aimlessly through Facebook and drinking Shiraz.

The anticipation had been mounting for weeks, particularly for my eight year old. Many hours had been dedicated to rehearsing and getting every detail just right. I even participated in a costume making bee – sans alcohol. It was a tough afternoon of sewing but I ploughed on, without alcohol, for the sake of the children. Finally the big night arrived and families converged en mass upon the Parade Theatres at NIDA. (Of course it was at F%#king NIDA! This is the Eastern beaches doncha know!).  The venue so reeked of artiness that all of the bar men were dressed in black and bespectacled. I spent half and hour in the queue for a champagne as one does at the theatre.

Richard Roxburgh went to NIDA and he is really HAWT!

Richard Roxburgh went to NIDA and he is really HAWT!

I barely had time to skoll my bubbles before the performance bell rang. We ambled to our front row seats to spend the next 90 minutes with our necks crooked at an awkward angle.  The show revolved around a loose narrative about two kids being swept up in a world of ‘imagination’. The storyline threaded together a series of unrelated and yet remarkably similar dance routines.

The children journeyed through the jungle where they were confronted by bear like creatures shimming to “I like to move it move it”. They evaded pirates and ended up on the bottom of the ocean where scores of jelly fish and sharks grooved away to the disco hit Working At the Car Wash. In keeping with the oceanic theme the Kindy class performing ‘Somewhere beyond the sea’ almost had an epic fail. The entire group of twenty simply stopped mid routine. The tension was unbearable for a moment or two before they rebooted and finished the number. The biggest laugh however came from a Year One class who were doing a disco version of the Oompa Loompa song. (Yes – such a thing exists). It took them several attempts to position themselves correctly before the act began. The shuffling about elicited whoops of laughter from the crowd and a mighty cheer once the music started up.

The disco Oompa Loompas were a huge hit.

The disco Oompa Loompas were a huge hit.

Finally 90 minutes passed and everybody emerged with their dignity largely intact (unlike 1981). I tip my hat to the school teachers. Getting young kids to dance in unison is like herding cats. Even with months of rehearsal they simply lack the coordination to move in time with 20 class mates. Additionally most people are not natural performers. The prospect of shaking groove thang in front of 700 parents is terrifying. The majority of the kids moved stiffly like footballers mouthing the national anthem. Around 5% relished the attention, played up to the audience and wiggled like their lives depended on it. Raw talent played no part in determining which children fell into which group.  It’s a metaphor for life beyond the school ground.

The debrief continues at Chez Abulous with my girls requiring a deconstruction of their performances. ‘Mum. Did you see me?’, Mum was I the best in my class?’, ‘Who was the best in the class?’ The only answer is of course ‘You were beautiful darling. I loved it’. Meanwhile your soul is drenched in deep relief that you dont have to endure any more of this until next year.

School concerts haven’t they been going on long enough? Love or loathe?





*  A bad play on Captain and Tennille song lyrics that anyone under the age of 40 probably wouldn’t get.

On second thoughts DONT!

On second thoughts DONT!




16 thoughts on “School Concerts – the Agony & the Ecstasy (but mostly the agony)

  1. That’s hilarious they held it at NIDA … ah well, start big …

  2. I have been the director of similar concerts for the last thirty years and now I have finally realised that I should have been drip feeding my audience Shiraz all this time! You’re a good Mum turning up and doing costumes Mumabs. Thousands wouldn’t. Surprisingly, the kids remember these things for the rest of their lives.

  3. I use to think they were cute, now I must admit I dread them. I just want to see my kids embarrass themselves ( maybe not embarrass themselves but more like try to sing when you sound like a screaming banchie) then I just want to go home

  4. We won’t have to endure a concert until the end of the year. Undoubtedly a few Christmas carols thrown in. You have me worried about what will be required in the costume department, got through book week with a Cinderella dress (phew).

  5. I was in a dance concert back in the late 80’s- a tribute to Billy Joel. Dad brought the camcorder and videoed a girl who looked vaguely similar to me for the whole time I was on the stage. I do love seeing my kids perform and have fun but you kinda have to stay for the whole thing and watch ALLLL the kids ….sigh.

  6. ahahaha! I can’t wait for school concerts now! I know I say this now, but they sound hilarious.

  7. Oh god, we have something like this coming up and I’m going to pretend that my son isn’t in the choir so I don’t have to go. I’m not even sure if he’s even IN the choir. He mentioned it once and never said a thing about it after that, so naturally too scared to ask. Ignorance is bliss, and it makes for an awesome alibi…

  8. I still remember every single concert I ever performed in. And my mum was there for every one of them. You’re doing good things, Mumabs. And yes, RR is HAWT. x

  9. Wow…they held it at NIDA…that’s awesome {for the kids…}

    Luckily, where I grew up, we didn’t have compulsory school concerts but I do remember some really embarrassing ones when I was in Year 1 (and didn’t have my costume) and in Year 2 getting off the wrong side of teh stage. Apparently, I’m not cut out for the performing arts.

  10. Oh I’m a fan of the daggy school concert. I think every child needs to endure them as part of their character building.
    Lucky for us, we have two performers and dance concerts to attend as well! They are a lot of fun though, and make me wish I had half the coordination of my offspring.

  11. Ha ha. We didn’t have primary school concerts. I suspect this is a good thing. Thankfully my son has an epic concert event every two years. I’m not sure anyone could handle anything more frequent than that. They do however offer a DVD recording which I was compelled to buy under threat of being THE WORST MUM EVER. It has been on high rotation for almost a year. Thankfully I can leave the room. x

  12. They’ve learnt at our school NOT to put the classes in order (i.e. Prep, Grade 1, Grade 2, etc), because otherwise the parents of the younger grades leave straight after their child’s event. They mix them all the way through so you never know when your kid is up next! Sneaky sneaky.
    The teachers and teacher aides always do a routine at the very end, and it truly is worth the wait for the laughs!

  13. the bits that go wrong are always a highlight, aren’t they?

  14. Omg Loathe – unless it is my kid on stage and for all of those 3 minutes in love.. and then back to loathe lol 😉

  15. I didn’t have primary concerts at my school. But, I remember my first ballet concert. I was given a rose after the performance and only 4ish at the time I was upset my rose was not pink like the other girl’s had. So while everyone was being boring I meticulously and very slowly pulled all the petals off my rose. My mother was sooooo annoyed.

    Sine I’ve been relief teaching I do love seeing the school assemblies if I’m in on a Friday. I do prefer the naff, no technology dress up ones. They’re fun.

    Just take plenty of photos for their 21sts and always make sure you have pink roses.

  16. We have school concert on tonight. 10 year is disgusted she is only in the chorus and doesn’t want to go, 12 year old is the narrator and says it’s complete rubbish so I’m looking forward to sitting back and having a nice relaxing time in my day dreams.

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