When a Cell Phone Interrupts a Concert or Event

This seems to be happening more frequently: you're at a concert, gymnastics meet, jazz club, tennis match, movie or church, you're at a dramatic or intense moment when a cell phone rings. It cuts across the conversation, the action or a performance.

This video was making the rounds last week on various social networks, entitled: "Haydn Killed by a Cell phone." It shows just how loud a cell phone can be in a concert hall:

This is a video I showed my students last year. When a cell phone interrupted a concert, the violinist incorporated the annoying Nokia ringtone into his performance:

One more for you, in which a New York Philharmonic concert was halted because of a cell phone ringing:

It really kills the moment. Not only that, it can also shatter a musician's or athlete's concentration to the point of rendering them unable to carry on (especially if it's a young person).

If it happened to me, I'm not sure if I'd be as quick-witted as the violinist above or as polite as Christian Zacharias. Depending upon the piece, I might stop. I'd definitely be bitchy. I would even be tempted to call up the cell phone owner to the stage and let him or her try playing from the point of interruption.

If the cell phone user is close to the stage, perhaps I'd even ask for the phone and answer it. I could picture how that conversation could go:

Me: Hello?

Person calling: Hi. Can I speak to X?

Me: I'm sorry, (s)he can't come to the phone right now. (S)He is at a concert right now and your call just interrupted my performance... 

Leaving your cell phone is disrespectful on so many levels. First, it's disrespectful to those on stage, be it a musician, athlete or pastor. It has taken them hours of care and hard work  to be prepared to stand before you.

Second, if it's disrespectful to the composer (if it's a music performance), the teachers/coaches and all other individuals and groups involved with making that performance, service or event happen.

Third, it's disrespectful to the other patrons. Perhaps they had to scrimp and save to attend that event. Or, they had to juggle their schedule around. Either way, they made a choice and/or sacrifice to be there.

I know, I'm probably preaching to the choir. The ones who need to hear this message probably don't read my blogs. Perhaps the only thing that would get through to those people is if their special moment is rudely interrupted. However, they still probably would deny that they are guilty of doing the same thing.

A friend of mine mentioned that in Japan, cell phone signals are blocked in some concert halls. My piano families and I joked that there may come a time when we will have to check-in our phones before setting foot into a concert hall, church or event venue.

Is it that hard to put the phone on "Silent" or "Vibrate"? Last time I checked, it's as easy as a swiping down to get your quick menu and pressing a button.

Cell phones interrupting concerts or events, as frustrating as that is, is not the main issue. Rather, I think it's that we as a society can't seem to handle being fully present "in the moment", as this video sadly demonstrates: