Now, let’s speed things up a bit.
You’ve worked hard, for many years, to achieve this moment. You and your colleagues are in your robes, and those ill-fitting mortarboard hat things, and you’re all in line. Your family and friends are in the audience, waiting to cheer for you when your name is read and you walk across the stage to receive your diploma. The music starts, and of course, it’s Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1“. Your administrators, teachers, and fellow students begin to march to your seats. And let’s face it: this process Takes. For. Ever.
The video I linked to is a performance by a full orchestra. These kids are doing a nice job with this piece, even with the little blue lights in the audience. This was a concert, not a graduation ceremony, so the kids could just play the piece. Often, because schools have a lot of people to get to the seats, the music goes back and repeats the main sections as many times as needed to get everyone in their places. It goes on. And on again. And on. And it’s usually not an orchestra, because they’re too expensive. It’s usually an organist.
I know many people like organ music. I confess, I find it tedious. Especially over and over. I know many people favor tradition over shaking things up. But let’s think about what’s really important here. You, your family and friends, did not come to this event to hear an organ recital, especially a repetitive one. They came to celebrate this major accomplishment. Your graduation. Your transition from a student to a young professional. You, starting a new life.
So, I offer this modest proposal: Do the processional march to a different tune. Let’s not drag this out.
Envision this: everyone marching into the auditorium to Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt. This performance is two minutes and 33 seconds. It starts out slow, for the senior members of the faculty and administration to get to their seats, then speeds up as the junior faculty and students start to come in. Everyone could be in their assigned places, ready to be seated, and you only have to play the piece once. The climax is self-explanatory. Everyone clearly knows when it’s over and it’s time to sit down. It would be choreographed beautifully, dramatic, and much more exciting than Elgar.
And NOW, we proceed to the event we came to celebrate: the accomplishment of four (or more!) years of hard work, hard study, and this major transition in your lives: moving from the status of a student to a colleague. Your teachers have acknowledged you as ready to move out into the world. They have spent these years showing you wonderful things. Now it’s your turn to show them wonderful things. Start it off with some flair.