Music is a beautiful thing, and it is always in great abundance at Jacksonville State University.
However, in the David L. Walters Department of Music, the attempt to spread a little musical culture to the city of Jacksonville far too often falls victim to crying babies, flash photography, cell phones, and unnecessary bathroom breaks.
The Mason Hall Performance Center, lovingly referred to by music students as “The PC,” has unfortunately seen many of such distractions.
The responsibility of audience members go far beyond that of most spectator sports or events.
“We have to show the world that music is worth the investment,” says Dr. Douglas Gordon, a professor of music theory in the music department, and he’s certainly correct.
The job of a member of the audience is to show up to the concerts and give the performers their undivided attention.
First, the audience must realize that being a competent spectator is just as important as the recital being given by the student or students.
The performers work hard for months on end, often in a very small practice room.
The least that those who are audience members can do is respect the performers’ hard work. Perhaps try to imagine what’s going through the minds of performers – young and old – as they prepare to present their interpretation of art and culture to the world.
Many of these distracting issues can be solved by taking necessary precautions (the “silence your cellphones” statement made at the beginning of any performance is not a suggestion). Recording and flash photography is not encouraged; most performers have already hired someone to record and photograph their performance. Any other photography should take place after the recital.
Wait for intermission. It’s usually better for the phone calls, text messages, and bathroom breaks to take place during a time that would not distract the performers or other audience members. An unruly child is, of course, an exception to this guideline.
Ushers are not normally guarding the doors at these recitals; the performers expect their audiences to be mature and respectful enough to wait between pieces to enter or exit the facility (especially in the PC, on account of the not-so-subtle sound made by the door when it is opened).
It is understood that there are audience members that may only be in attendance for a grade, normally to complete a worksheet on the type of music and instrumentation utilized. However, the person giving the performance is normally on stage for a grade as well. With this said, please refrain from using a cell phone as a light to complete the homework sheet. The performer would be happy to answer whatever questions the sheet asks, after the concert.
The music students here at JSU are some of the best when it comes to working with what they have. They make the best of their music no matter the circumstance, the facility, or the audience. However, as audience members, to show the performers that they are worth the time and attention, and that goes for all of the art forms manifested on the Friendliest Campus in the South.
Take a moment to consider JSU without them – no jazz, no plays or musicals, no art department, or – dare it be suggested – no Marching Southerners.
Without the arts that JSU has now, the campus would become a dreary place. To combat that, audience members of performances such as those that occur in the Performance Center should just wait for the intermission.