It’s the end of the school year. In my household, that means end-of-the-year music school and elementary school talent shows. All of my kids play the piano; some of them play guitar; some of them take voice lessons. We’ve just finished another round of talent shows this year with #7 and #8.
I love talent shows. They take me back to the days when I had to perform, my gut churning with excruciating nervousness, my mind in a panic thinking I couldn’t remember the words or the notes, all to prove that my parents didn’t waste their money or time on me.
My older children survived music recitals quite nicely. They tell me that practicing, memorizing their pieces and facing a room full of people helped them become more disciplined and confident. Not to mention their eclectic tastes in music, everything from Gregorian Chant to heavy metal. Some of them have gone on to perform in plays and musicals.
My 2 youngest children are now following in the footsteps of their older siblings. #7 and #8 both play the piano and take voice lessons. I relish my role as stage mom, camcorder at the ready, beaming proudly from my seat. I understand their nervousness as they await their turn and my gut churns in sympathy. But it’s all good. Practice and discipline make for a great performance and it’s wonderful to see how proud they are of their accomplishments.
But here’s the thing……I felt that some of the vocal music kids picked inappropriate songs and some of the little girl dancers were immodestly dressed. Is it unreasonable to think that an 8-year old shouldn’t be singing some angsty break-up song by Adele or that a 12-year old singing about turning out the lights and making you feel good all night…ooh baby, ooh baby…. is wrong? Who picked these songs? And call me old-school but I think that a dance costume should cover the entire butt and not look painted on. At least this year there wasn’t any suggestive choreography.
#8 wanted to sing a pop song for both talent shows but we had to veto what she chose since the content was decidedly adult. I didn’t want to hear her sing about pining after some married man. We settled on Break Away, a song that her older sister sang a few years ago. There was no issue with #7 since he had his heart and vocal cords set on Stand By Me.
In my opinion, showcasing a child’s budding talent doesn’t have to border on indecent or inappropriate. I don’t buy the argument that “it’s just a song.” By allowing our kids to sing questionable songs and dance in scantily clad costumes, we are contributing to the over sexualization of young impressionable children. What they need from us are boundaries and clear messages about what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour. Our kids are continuously bombarded by overly sexualized messages and images. Talent shows shouldn’t make things worse.