Have some fun! A rant on the state of modern entertainment and the deplorable lack of wobbly sopranos.

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I'm in the group of folks who believe that TV and radio killed off a large part of family unity by exposing each and everyone of us to professional entertainment 24/7. Back in the day, as it were, people gathered around at all sorts of holidays, and for no reason at all, to sing, act out plays, read poetry and literature, dance, etc. These were extremely effective bonding rituals amongst family member.

Nowadays, however, whenever the opportunity comes up (if anyone is so rash as to suggest it) everyone bows out because "I can't sing" or "There is no way you're getting me out on the dance floor to make a fool of myself",etc. Before omni-media pervaded our lives, it didn't matter if you were a bit off key - so was everybody else and if you thought you were bad, just wait until Aunt Edna and her Amazing Singing Pomeranian showed up. A talented voice or musical ability was appreciated for the gem it was and others were encouraged to join in and have fun regardless of their skill or trainging. Now however, we all have to face the reality that our voices, musical skills, and other entertainment attempts will be compared (however subconciously) with Mariah Carey, Yo Yo Ma, and Michael Jackson, and of course we fall short.

These folks are trained professionals, who spend their entire lives working on their skills - how can we compete? In reality, we can't and we know it. Even a talented, practiced voice is usually massively underwhelming when you have an immense and continually updated memory storehouse of any and all who have entered your eyes and ears over the years.

Yet, any voice coach can tell you that anyone except the truly tone deaf (that doesn't mean you with the creaky alto and the wandering pitch - this is a diagnosable physical condition, not a simple lack of skill!) can be taught to sing, if not professionally, at least moderately well, and in no great length of time. A handful of lessons can get you from frightening the livestock to passably enjoyable, if you practice and pay attention to your voice. Likewise, a few dance lesson can make the difference between a tangle and a tango, and sometimes community centers offer them free, or nominally priced.

It's time we quit asking and expecting our family and ourselves to live up to the standards set by Julliard and just sing. It's fun - you used to do it as a kid at the drop of a hat, remember? Take a few lessons if you're truly hopeless (your local choir leader, who no doubt harbors dreams of being the next great starmaker, will probably jump at the chance to work his/her magic on you). If you are tone deaf, learn how to recite poetry or take a few classes in the art of dynamic stroy telling. Anyone can play the autoharp, my sister notwithstanding. Learn a handful of "old favorites", get them down pat and insist on playing at every occasion. Teach others, spread the movement. It's time we quit letting ourselves be convinced that the only good entertainment is professional entertainment.

$7 movie ticket are a symtom of the fact that Americans have let Hollywood talk them out of entertaining themselves. Don't like the stuff your kids see at the theater? Learn how to play parlor games and put on plays - encourage the writer in the family to write, and the artist to design the sets. Invite the whole family/friend network over and pop some of that popcorn you grew on a lark last year. Have some FUN, for crying out loud, and quit shelling out your hard earned cash to have prefab fun inflicted upon you from an outside source!

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), October 08, 2000


Amen to that! You echoed my sentiments exactly. It seems nowadays people think only celebrities have talent. EVERYONE has talent! In some form or another God gave us all talents. And I am sick and tired of having celebrities held up to us like some little tin god that we should emulate either in their behavior or political persuasion.

My father used to tell me about traveling shows that would come to the local fairs. Sort of like the poor man's vauvdeville. Now there is entertainment. Go to local festivals and fairs, church socials and dances - small gatherings such as these are just the right place to share with others all those fun things you have practiced at home. And if you are in the audience, encourage those on the stage with all the clapping and cheers you can.

-- R. (thor610@yahoo.com), October 09, 2000.

Hi Soni,

My high school aged daughter became friends with a guy who invited her to the annual "The Gong Show" at his high school. So the two of them and my wife and I went. What's the point? It was a SELL OUT. The auditorium was packed with students, family and friends.

High school and junior high kids got together and put on skits and songs and dances. A high school senior was dressed in a roman toga with a hugh padded mallet next to a chinese gong. Each act was given 1 minute before the audience voted with voices whether the act would be given the "gong" or not. If you got the gong, the stage crew would rush out and carry the "offending" act off the stage. It was a hoot. It made no difference how talented you were. The audience just appreciated the kids who had the gumption to get up and give it their best shot. Some acts went down in flames and some acts were soo good that everyone shut up until the kids were finished. But everyone had a ball. It was a great night for family style entertainment.


-- Craig Miller (CMiller@ssd.com), October 09, 2000.

Soni, As a voice and piano teacher, Thank You. I have yet to find anyone that I can't teach to sing or play the piano, if they want to. And I taught middle school choir. All those changing voices. Recently, my son-in-law complained that coming up here wasn't as much fun anymore. It changed when I had the satelite installed. We used to sing around the grand piano, lots of space for everyone, make cookies, dip candles, play games. So, since I can't afford it anyway, today I cancel the satelite. And, I'm only going to heat with wood as long as possible. It forces the boys to leave their rooms and come be socialable. When I thought about it, we really did have more fun and the older kids were always hanging around.

-- Cheryl Cox (bramblecottage@hotmail.com), October 09, 2000.

We got rid of our television a couple of years ago, although we still do have stereos. We are all very musical, and life is so much better accompanied by music!

When the tv went out the door, we got a few whines, but the kids will tell you that it has been good for our family. We talk. We read books. We sing for devotions. We play games. I have found that the kids don't fight as much, unless they've been to Gramma's (who has a tv and they're allowed to watch it there.)

We will be buying a SMALL tv in order to study using some video curriculum (we are homeschoolers), but it will be small, so that it won't be comfortable to watch. :-)

I think it is sad when parents and other adults think children need to be entertained at all times (and at all costs). There have been many times at church that I've heard, "we can't do that, the kids will be bored", or the kids get slapped in a room with a video, because the spiritual stuff is "way over their head."

We're not perfect, but my kids are being taught that the world just plainly doesn't revolve around them. Recently we took a meal to an elderly man in our church, and we told the kids, "this is not about you, this is about ministering to our friend. You need to think of ways not to entertain yourself, but to meet his needs." Know what? We had a wonderful time. The kids found themselves wrapped up in his stories, and they told him some stories, and we just had a great time.

The tv has provided us with instant, selfish entertainment, and I for one think it is sad.

-- Terri Miller (tchr4hm@juno.com), October 14, 2000.

Soni, I have a special favor to ask. Here, you have written what I've been preaching for years. Tomorrow night is Rectial Night for my students and I always take the opportunity to do a little teaching to the families. Would you be willing for me to quote you? It would be nice to use another's words, not just my own. If you are uncomfortable with this, I won't. Thanks, Cheryl

-- Cheryl Cox (bramblecottage@hotmail.com), October 19, 2000.

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