by Cheryl Jackson Friday December 4, 2009

I spent a glorious hour and a half last night at my daughter's high school concert, and I had an epiphany of sorts. 

After 15 years of going to school concerts, why did it take me so long? Well, I've been talking to education experts for almost three years now on Your Voice. That helps. I also just read a personal essay my daughter wrote on what her choir meant to her. Put those two things together, and an evening of beautiful music created by students, and it all suddenly made sense to me.

So many of our educational goals for our kids come together, and are on display at a concert. We just did a show on "Group Work", and while the name itself is contentious, as you'll see when you watch the show, the idea that when people work together, the sum is greater than the parts is important. That's what makes beautiful music in a choir, a band, a symphony.  We also did a show recently that we called "Is it Okay for Kids to Think They're Special?"  We learned that praising children for nothing actually damages their self-esteem.  True self-esteem is earned when kids work hard and see, or hear, the result. That's exactly what happens at a concert. Those kids have worked so hard on their own, and in the group, to make music. Then they get a chance to pull it all together for their audience. They are heard, they are applauded, and they always walk off the stage with big goofy smiles.  

My daughter's essay told just that story. She sang in the Toronto Children's Chorus for eight years and just graduated last year. She wrote about the meaning the choir had for her and the lessons learned about hard work, about the courage it took to re-audition every year, and about the glorious feeling she had when she was able to sing in a candlelit Medieval church in Germany on her final tour. She said tears ran down her face while she sang that night. I get it. I cry when I listen to  my kids sing. I've even been known to cry while watching other people's children perform, because I am always moved by their effort and willingness to share.

When the concert  was over last night, I wondered if it would be weird if I kept going to school concerts after my kids finished school. I'll be the little old lady in the aisle seat, crying.