Although perhaps I make it seem easy, in fact it is very hard to be critical of performers in school concerts. They are young, they are gaining experience and they are often surprisingly good. If they occasionally have nights they would prefer to forget then they are in very good company. Personally, and with good reason, I am very grateful for an increasing tendency towards forgetfulness.
I have railed against school concerts before: overly long and with a tendency to favour student inclusivity over audience sensibility. One thing I didn't mention back in December was the tyranny of technology. In this respect students are often either poorly advised or given insufficient support. Tracks off CDs can go on and on. Your Year 7 girls may have devised a great routine but can it really be stretched to fill the full five minutes of the track they've chosen to dance to? It may be worth explaining to them that what works on TV does so because of the close-ups, cut-aways, expert make-up and special effects. If the music is being performed live this situation does not arise. The music is tailored to fit the routine and not the other way around. I'm not against using pre-recorded tracks per se but with the technology available in most schools, and indeed in most homes, today it should be possible to make an edit to suit the length of the piece.
Ditto for singers. Kids do look very cute singing along to 'My Heart Will Go On' but, cheap laugh I know, the song goes on a bit too. And when it's sung thin, flat and through an over-loud PA with a microphone technique impaired by nervousness it can last forever. This is one song that needs to be pruned right back.
But things do seem to be improving. I saw an exhibition of street dance at a local secondary school earlier this week. It was short, snappy and high energy with a crisp, exciting edit that left even the non-partisan elements of the audience cheering enthusiastically. I don't know if the track was home made or off-the-shelf. Either way it appears someone has identified a need. It was a rare example of the dog wagging the tail. Let this be the future.