At the beginning of this month, I wrote a piece on my national side for Examiner.com entitled "Should a concert ticket come with a social contract?" I had been struck by the amount of attention the London press had given to Kyung-Wha Chung publicly taking the parents of a coughing child to task during her recital at London’s Royal Festival Hall, an incident that, like Chung's return to the concert stage, received almost no attention on this side of the pond. If I am to believe Google Analytics, then this was one of those articles that received almost no attention. However, because just about everyone who takes listening to music seriously has had to share a concert hall with others who are not so serious and choose to be audible about it, this was one of those pieces I had to write just to get my own bad vibes out of my system.
My point was that, while I had grown up learning, mostly from my parents, that there was such a things as proper behavior at a concert, that world I had grown up in had long gone. The idea that there should be proper behavior at a concert was as alien as the ideal that there should be some standard of etiquette behind writing anything that would find its way into the Internet or, for that matter, walking down the street with some awareness of the presence of others. I could only conclude that those of us going to concerts to listen had to accept the fact that learning how to focus was part of the package and that any inconsiderate behavior we encountered should be regarded as motivation to hone the sharpness of our focal attention.
As fate would have it, my precept was put to the test last night. Without going into detail, I was in a setting where I had a seat that would have been excellent had it not been in front of a very restless child who really did not want to be there. A quick glance made it clear that the parent was aware of the problem, which is why my focal energies had to be concentrated only on blocking out undesirable sounds, rather than contending with having the back of my seat kicked. For what it was worth, the performance itself did much to help me with my focus; and, in the grand scheme of things, I have to admit that I have been in far more unpleasant situations. On the other hand, this was also an occasion at which I was haunted by my own words; and I guess I am happy that they had the proper effect on me.