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September 21, 2010


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I am surprised it took them this long to ban parents at soccer practice. Parents have been forbidden from attending youth orchestra tryouts or practices for years and years. (And, yes, this is a not very subtle commentary on where soccer and symphony lie on the ever-expanding eliteness scale in snoburbia; we are 0.7 log eliteness scale points to the right of people who attempt to achieve eliteness with their feet.)

And youth orchestra also has more levels of eliteness than you think there are. For a tenth grader in snoburban Maryland, there are 3 orchestral organizations that could serve as an artistic outlet, but one of them is way more elite than the others. In that organization, the musician could earn placement in one of three orchestras, but everybody knows which one is the best. Then in your section, seating is by merit, but the only people who get acknowledged in the program are the Principal and maybe an Assistant Principal. But wait: there's more! Unbeknownst to most of the musicians and their parents is the chamber music program, which is by invitation only. And then there is the unofficial system of hyper-elite musicians who compete for prizes in named competitions (whose prize money might only cover the cost of the accompanist you hired). I suspect there are levels above that, but I have no direct knowledge.

CF Oxtrot

No offense intended here, justafed, but why would any parent think the only option for a musically inclined child is classical music through traditional structures of playing orchestral or chamber music?

The problem is annoying, it seems -- but also completely avoidable.

A person doesn't have to aspire to First Chair Violin any more than a person has to aspire to attend Harvard.

Except in Snoburbia.


CF Oxtrot wrote:

No offense intended here, justafed,

...and then immediately says something untrue and a bit offensive, just as you would expect. What in my post made you think that the classical music option was our idea? As it turns out, this was actually not his first instrument. It would not have happened if free lessons had not been offered through the school system where we used to live. I will accept blame for forking over for private lessons my son asked for when we arrived in local snoburbia. Given that the instrument involved is *not* a violin, nobody here is aspiring to First Chair Violin.

That said, the point of my post was to acknowledge that instrumental music has definitely become a quintessential part of snoburbia, eerily paralleling (and maybe anticipating) what we see going on in soccer and other pastimes. There is a big-time achievement orientation here in snoburbia. Arguably, it's the reason why we are all here...


A few years ago, priorto my return to the Northeast, my daughter attended an area gymnastics academy. The kids their trained, traveled and competeted at all levels (but mainly the kind that win 5 ft trophies). For years they had a sitting room for parents with a window where you could watch your child and mention (brag) about competitions. Several parents woudl glare at their kids for little mistakes and one woudl take notes as she watched her daughter. Some parents would get to classes early just to get a good seat by the window. This was VIP stuff. One Monday I dropped my daughter off and decided I would sit in the waiting area for a while. There was no one in the room. After looking around I saw a curtain covering the window and plywood behind it (yes I looked).

There was never a note or policy about watching your kids posted but I think the competitive moms got the message.

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