Can you imagine taking very young children to a symphony concert?
It sounds crazy, right? At least it sounds crazy to me! I suppose that there are some little ones who would sit quietly through an entire concert, but certainly not my girls.
If the cliche “like a bull in a china shop” is the way to describe rough, out-of-place behavior in a fragile situation, then I think the phrase “like a toddler at the symphony” should be used to describe noise that is loud in all of the wrong ways.
I say “loud in all the wrongs ways” because symphony concerts are not quiet affairs. With all of the instruments playing together, it can be impressively loud. Yet there are times when you need to be achingly quiet at the symphony. And, as every parent knows, those quiet moments are when a baby will wail, a toddler will shout, and a preschooler will announce to the entire auditorium that they need to use the potty.
But if you’d like to introduce your young child to the symphony and encourage appreciation for classical music, then you might consider taking your child to the symphony.
And if you (like me!) aren’t brave enough to attempt an actual symphony performance, then why not try a symphony rehearsal? If you search for Family-Friendly Symphony Rehearsals near your city or area, you may be surprised to find that MANY professional symphonies encourage families to either attend special kid-friendly performances or open up one of the rehearsals to the general public.
The Family Time Concerts in our city are the final dress rehearsal before the symphony’s performance. They are FREE and open to the public.
During the rehearsal, the conductor chooses pieces to rehearse that he believes are fun and interesting to kids.
Between the songs, the conductor often offers short explanations and shares stories. For instance, at the last family time concert, we learned that the singer was “marking” (singing in “half voice”) to save her voice for the performance. He also took a minute or two to explain and loosely translate the lyrics.
While the musicians are rehearsing/performing, our three-year-old likes to mimic the conductor or play (or pretend to play) her violin.
Sometimes our 18-month-old expresses her appreciation for great music by running all over the theater.
And that’s okay too.
But of course a symphony rehearsal is also a great time to teach kids about symphony-appropriate behaviors like listening attentively, sitting quietly, waiting until a proper break to enter and exit, and clapping (but not shouting or whistling… unless you want an encore!) at the end of a piece.
Our girls also have the unique privilege of knowing one of the symphony members–their G-Pa (grandpa).
Before you take your kids to the symphony, here are a few words your kids might like to know:
Conductor–the person who directs and leads the musical performance.
Soloist–a person who plays an instrument or sings alone as a solo.
Orchestra or Symphony Orchestra–a group of string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments that play classical music.
Tuning–adjusting musical instruments to the correct pitch.
And here are a few instruments you may see and hear:
The Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey has a great visual map of the instruments played in their symphony. You can see it here.
Additional Information about the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra
The Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra invites the general public to attend a short, 30-minute rehearsal (called a Family Time Concert) the afternoon of its final performance. These rehearsals are free and very kid-friendly. The current music director is David Bowden, and I truly believe Mr. Bowden likes seeing young children enjoying the music in their age-appropriate ways. A few times, Mr. Bowden has come by to chat with our three-year-old before the rehearsal begins.
TILSON AUDITORIUM, ISU CAMPUS
TIME: 2:00 – 2:30pm on before most of the Saturday concerts
No dress code, no price, no age limit…just a good time!
The Terre Haute Symphony believes in community engagement and musical education, thus making these casual, interactive performances a worry-free setting for families with young children to hear live classical music.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please call 812.242.8476 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.