Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lights Out, Lips Shut

Last week, the 9-year-old participated in her school’s Earth Day Concert, a performance put on by third graders involving songs and recorders.  A recorder, for those of you who do not know, is a flute-like instrument given to young kids to attempt to interest them in band. That is what it is to me, at least. I’m not sure if I have ever seen one in an adult orchestra, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The songs were written to assist the children and the parents to be more aware of conserving our natural resources. The kids did an amazing job and it was a fun concert to watch.

I’m not sure how many students were in attendance. There were five classes, so I am guessing between 80 to 100 children. That produces quite a bit of noise, even when not singing. Add to that the audience of parents, grandparents and siblings, some older and many younger, and you have a cacophony that drowns one lone music teacher, even if she came equipped with a whistle, which this one didn’t.

It wasn’t that the children meant to be loud. However, put that many children together and even a few whispers can come across as yelling. Soon the noise level was out of control, but mostly from the parents. On the row behind us, one woman sat talking on her phone during the entire concert. It was ridiculous. I’ll bet she felt proud she at least attended her daughters’ performance, though.

Still, the teachers have developed a nice solution that works and which I think I may try at home. When the noise reaches outdoor levels, they merely turn the lights out.

Simple! Brilliant!

And it works. The students know that as soon as those lights are out they are to zip it, cease communicating, stop talking. The funny part was that it seemed to work on the parents, as well. And it should because this teacher trick to instill silence has been engrained in all of us since the electric light bulb was put in to that very first school house. We grew up being trained to be quiet when the lights were out and, as evidenced at the concert, that training never leaves us.

As I watched the lips shut throughout the small cafeteria where the concert was being held, I decided that it was too good a training to waste. We needed to implement this at home! When it becomes too rowdy with annoying conversation or the noise level grows beyond tolerable levels, especially during Castle, I’ll just flip the lights off and be greeted with instant quiet.

So the next time the noise became deafening at the house, which is whenever Zac and the 9-year-old are there at the same time, I quickly tried out my theory. The little one just stared at me and Zac went into his room, shutting the door. At least it was quiet.

Of course, when it came to putting this into practice with the girls, they said something about flipping my switch, and I don’t think it was a sexual innuendo. Some things are best left in school by those who have the proper power. I’ll just keep turning up the volume on the television.

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