Music is something for everyone to enjoy. It has a way of spreading joy and uniting people, regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation.

To watch a child dance without thought or care and in complete joy is an amazing sight. Their little bodies flailing around to a rhythm in pure, primal instinct brings to mind an ancient world. To see them so lost in the rhythm, just feeling and moving makes me want to have the free, careless abandonment of self-consciousness that only a child can have.

I thought all people probably feel the same way, but evidently I was wrong, as I was shown on Wednesday night, while attending a local musical performance.

At this performance, there were three children in attendance. Two boys, ages 3 and 4, and my daughter, who is 2.

During the performance, the two boys were in the aisle farthest from the stage, dancing their hearts out. In between songs, they spoke, as did most people in the audience, as it took a little time between songs for the students to set up various instruments. While most were speaking in whispers, the children weren’t. But who cares, really?

At one point, while setting up, my daughter said, rather loudly, “What happened? Where’s music?” This elicited a few chuckles around me.

But, when the music started, she was quiet and danced a little, and soon got brave enough to try to dance with the little boys, before running away, shyly.

About halfway through the show, one little boy, who was particularly into the music, started making noises with his mouth to go along with his dancing and rhythm. These three kids were really enjoying it!

At the end of the song, a man shouted out, “You really need to get those kids out of here. They are ruining the show. They are ruining the video recording and you mothers really need to realize that there are just some things that those kids are too young to come to.”

You could hear a collective gasp and feel the shock throughout the room. Not one person stood up to say something. I thought about it, but decided I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself as he did.

The other two mothers gathered their children up, and took out the door, one saying, “Well, I’m sorry if my kid dancing ruined your show.”

I, however, did not get up. I did not leave. As far as I was concerned, you could not have paid me a million dollars to leave at point. This is a free, public concert, and if my child had been loud, or crying or acting bad, I would have voluntarily taken her out. But she was not. She was enjoying the music and I would not succumb to the rudeness of this man.

There were better ways to handle the situation.

Why not try a little tact? If someone is annoying you and you feel like you must say something to them, why not approach them in a polite manner?

Example: “Excuse me ma’am, I feel like your child is being a distraction, and s/he is being a little loud. Could you please try to keep him/her quiet, and if you are unable to do so, can you please leave?”

It must have been the noise that the children were making that angered him, he certainly could not have captured the kids dancing on the video from his angle. I mean, God forbid a child enjoy music!

I am afraid that this incident could cause these mothers to be afraid to take their children to another musical event, and that’s a pure shame.

I have been involved with the Berea College African-Latin Percussion Ensemble for years. I know we are encouraged, and perform much better, when the audience is into the music, dancing and clapping and singing along. We encourage audience participation!

I have also attended several Berea College Black Music Ensemble performances, and I cannot imagine the director of this choir getting upset because a child is enjoying the music!

Wednesday’s concert was great. When a jazz ensemble performed later, they encouraged the audience to clap and dance! Believe me, my daughter danced her little heart out, to the point of exhaustion!

This musical performance was not like watching an opera, or a classical pianist. It made you want to dance, clap ... you feel the music, the rhythm washes over you and it is impossible to sit still. Even the most reserved people, I would imagine, would at least have a toe tapping!

Music is a joy in life that unites the world. There are thousands of research articles supporting the benefit of exposing young children to music.

Here is just one such study from The International Foundation of Music Research, based at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and analyzed by Karen Sibal in the article, “Exploring the Effects of Music on Young Children.”

This research has shown that “music can benefit cognitive abilities, particularly spatial abilities, higher reasoning and motor skills, and higher achievements in language and math.”

“ ... music has also shown to increase overall intelligence by shaping the types of attitudes, interests and discipline within children. Many types of music can be inspiring and incredibly motivational, thereby helping children focus and improve their listening skills. Music can give children the self-confidence and self-esteem they need to succeed in many academic areas or in defining personality traits as they grow older.”

“... As human beings, music is an inherent part of who we really are, and its exposure during a child’s early years can have significant effects on their overall well-being that last well into adulthood. If anything, the research has made us more aware of the value of introducing our children to music while they are very young. What’s most important is that we provide our children with a rich and varied environment that promotes their overall growth and development. Music can definitely play a key role in creating an enriching and stimulating environment for your child.”

I hope that this man’s rude actions have not deterred these mothers from exposing their children to music. I hope they continue to attend musical performances. I know that they would be more than welcome to come and dance and clap along to the Berea College African-Latin Percussion Ensemble performances, and I hope to see them at the next one.

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