The Art of Taking a Bow

 “It’s hard for a fellow to keep a chip on his shoulder if you allow him to take a bow.” – Billy Rose

Bow Julia

I was sitting with my mother and father-in-law at our youngest daughter’s Christmas play at school this week.  It was a wonderful, kid-filled story of learning that the holiday is worth much more than receiving gifts…that the heart of the season is giving.  It was told in music and drama, and the children were dressed in great outfits to fulfill their respective roles in the program.  There were a dozen or more Santa Claus characters and, for some reason, only one Mrs. Claus.  There were reindeer outfits and snowflake people and even children (mine included) with battery-powered Christmas tree lights on their shirts.  It was festive and funny and had many opportunities for lots of children to have a speaking part, dance or sing at the top of their lungs.

The most intriguing part, however, was the bowing.  That’s right – bowing.  After every song, whoever was spotlighted in the action – the actors, the singers, the dancers – whoever it was for that particular scene (and usually it was 10 or more children spotlighted in each song), the music teacher would pause the play and have the children who had done the particular work for that song/scene step to the front of the stage and take a bow.

It was interesting because you could immediately sense the importance of this moment to the children.  Their faces grew vibrant and, though some had appeared nervous while doing their part for the scene, they threw off such worries when it came time to step forward and bow.  It seemed as though they felt as special and important and appreciated as much, if not more, than the great Academy Award winners or Grammy superstars of years past.

At one point near the end of the program, my mother-in-law leaned over and said to me, “Bowing is clearly important.”

She’s right.  You could feel the necessity of it that day, as I have never felt it before.  These children had spent long hours and countless school sessions working with their teachers to create this event for us, but also for themselves.  I am grateful for a music teacher who notices such things and senses the long-lasting importance of it all.

It’s a simple idea, just three little words:  take….a….bow.