In a recent letter [in the Aug. 2, 2012 edition of the Town Crier], a citizen who attends the Thursday evening concerts in the park complained about the noise and general distraction of children running around the park and stage. She characterized the kids as disrespectful and opined that parents were missing out on a great teaching opportunity. They could be molding their children into respectful concertgoers, patiently listening to the music, and so on.
I wish to present an opposite view. When I listen to music — any music — in an outdoor setting such as a park, I watch the carousel of kids and think to myself, what a timeless current of humanity it all is.
If this concert were being performed a hundred years ago in this or a similar park, the generations would all still be acting out the same dance. The kids[would] feel the freedom of a safe park, sense the excitement of an event, hear the rhythm and timbre of live, loud music — indeed, being inspired by it — running madly and merrily all over the place.
The parents would know their kids are safe and joyous, that they’re with other kids and that other townspeople are keeping a family-type eye on them. [While] relaxing and passing around picnic foods, [they could] chat with friends and listen to the music. The elderly smile over it all and perhaps remember all the times they too had a rousing fun time in a park.
I wish to suggest that the venue itself suggests the proper behavior. If I’m at Symphony Hall, I expect civil etiquette from others present. Few venues expect stricter conduct from their attendees.
But I’d place Idyllwild’s park concerts somewhere on the other end of the spectrum, not quite as extreme as a band playing at a street fair, but not so terribly far away, either.
One of the things that makes Idyllwild most inviting to me and my family is the freedom that kids experience here — they know a freedom that few children do anywhere anymore. In the Idyllwild venue, the kids will occasionally check in with their parents, then it’s off (sprinting with friends) to a different corner of the park, then it’s racing to a tree, then it’s dancing before the music for a bit, then it’s something else that only a kid could come up with.
Were this concert in a large city, I’m sure the children would be more subdued, on a tighter leash. Taking one’s kids to the outdoor concerts is indeed a teaching experience — to love music, to move to it, to be unfettered by it, to feel the expansive lightness of being that derives from expressing oneself freely.
To me, it’s bliss to witness the kids whirling around the marvelous maypole of life. My deepest wish is that they’d dance forever and not succumb to the adult wish that they’d just sit down and be quiet.