Keeping Primary Attention on Life’s Main Focuses

There are many strong, attention-grabbing focuses in life that are clearly of secondary importance (or even of very little importance) compared to our primary purposes.

A couple of songs into that portion of the concert it suddenly dawned on me: my attention was so monopolized by all that was being shown on the screens, I was no longer consciously listening to and appreciating the tremendous music that was being so skillfully performed by the band on the platform. Even after realizing that and determining to bring my focus back to the band’s skilled performance of wonderful music, my attention was repeatedly drawn away by all the larger-than-life images and activities being projected on the gigantic screens dwarfing the platform.

 

For decades my wife Leeta and I have greatly enjoyed Manheim Steamroller Christmas music. Recently, for only the second time, we attended a Manheim Steamroller Christmas concert. In my limited experience, I’ve found those to be enjoyable, quality performances with delightful music and outstanding musicianship. Some dramatic lighting and limited use of attractive background visual images help add to the vitality and enjoyment of the concerts.

However, at the most recent concert it seemed to me that things went off the rails a bit in a more extensive (but less beneficial) use of background images. I came away from the experience not only with a concert-related conclusion but also with a significant life-related reminder.

At the beginning of the second half of the concert it was announced that, in honor of this special anniversary of Manheim Steamroller’s beloved Christmas music, the band and orchestra would next perform the entire first Christmas album that M.S. produced many years ago. “Oh, this should be a great treat,” I immediately thought to myself.

An extended portion of that second part of the concert featured familiar and pleasant medieval minstrel-style Christmas songs such as “I Saw Three Ships” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” As an intended special feature to accompany that portion of the program, as those songs were being played, a lively depiction of a holiday feast at a medieval nobleman’s castle was shown on the huge screens which towered behind and high above the entire platform. The video production showed a constantly-moving stream of activities in the banquet hall – feasting, dancing, entertainers and the like. It also depicted a beehive of activity taking place in the castle kitchen to keep the banquet supplied with all variety of food and drink. The staging, costuming, colors and activities in the video presentation were elaborate.

But a couple of songs into that portion of the concert it suddenly dawned on me: my attention was so monopolized by all that was being shown on the screens, I was no longer consciously listening to and appreciating the tremendous music that was being so skillfully performed by the band on the platform. Even after realizing that and determining to bring my focus back to the band’s skilled performance of wonderful music, my attention was repeatedly drawn away by all the larger-than-life images and activities being projected on the gigantic screens dwarfing the platform.

I perceived most of the concertgoers were being affected the same way by the video presentation. People were obviously engrossed in the images on the background screens while at the same time engaging much less with the music being performed on the stage. One telltale sign of that was the audience’s noticeably-diminished applause at the end of each song in that portion of the concert. After one song there was virtually no clapping at all, because people were so intent on watching what was happening on the screens rather than listening to the music.

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