Through the Facebook network, I learnt about a concert on last week. Jazz in the Theatre – Soundtracks was a showcase put on by the WA Academy of Performing Arts last week. The poster says that various jazz and comtemporary ensembles would play a collection of hits of music from musicals.
I wanted to go, and the musicals angle interested my wifey. But what about the kids? Babysitting? It would be nice to go out to a concert, just us, no kids. But we thought it might a good concert to bring the kids to. Yes, adventurous, but it’s good to bring kids to sit down concerts to expand their horizons, learn about concert etiquette, listen to other types of music, and to experience sitting still for ~2 hours!!
Yes it can be a hard decision to bring kids to a concert. Will it be as enjoyable for the two of you?
So here’s a few ideas to help make it an enjoyable experience for the kids, and the parents too!
Ease the kids into jazz and classical concerts with more family friendly and oriented concerts. In Perth, the state symphony orchestra, WASO, and state youth music association, WAYMA, run concerts for kids. There are commentaries on what’s happening and the music chosen is more accessible and shorter and more noise/movement is tolerated by the audience. The WAYMA’s Baby Proms are a good introduction the orchestra and heaps of fun for kids – sort of like the Wiggles but for classical music!
Get the kids familiar with some of the pieces which will be performed at the concert. Maybe make a CD with some of the tunes that are on the program and play it in the car or at home. At the Jazz in the Theatre performance, many of the tunes were actually from movies, so watching those shows beforehand is good preparation.
Even better, if your child learns a musical instrument or singing, perhaps they can play easy versions of some of the concert pieces. For us, some of the songs was singing repetoire for our daughters, so this definitely kept her engaged for part of the concert.
Talk about the various instruments that will be played with your kids. Ask them to pick out which ones they like best, to describe the sounds each make during the concert, etc. At the interval, we asked the kids which person they’d like to be if they were in the concert itself.
Make it a special night out for the family! We talked about it during the week leading up to the night. On the night itself, we got the kids dressed up and said it was going to be a treat because we were letting them stay up late on a school night. We kept it positive about staying up late that one night but knew that they would probably get tired during the concert, but didn’t make a fuss about it. It was hard for them to wake up the next morning, but we accepted this.
Try more informal jazz concerts or university/college classical concerts first. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of any type of ensemble, but the more prestigious classical ensembles may attract more formal audiences who are less tolerant of fidgety kids. Plus, those type of concerts may feature longer, more difficult listening music that would be hard to entertain kids. Jazz performances are inherently more informal, which may be easier to bring kids to.
Check out the type of venue. Outdoor concerts may be easier to bring kids to than concert halls as they may allow more movement and noise.
Have backup! Bring along some quiet writing/reading activity just in case their attention really starts to wander. But only as backup! They could draw pictuers of the instruments, or a picture of what the music sounds like.
So what was it like for us? The kids were great overall, but our 9yo did get tired in the second half. They loved the Aristocats arrangement the best (actually so did I!).
WASO Cushion Concerts – http://www.waso.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=37
WAYMA’s Children Concert Series – http://www.wayma.asn.au/concerts/children-s-concerts-series.aspx
WAAPA’s Jazz in the Theatre concert – http://www.waapa.ecu.edu.au/events/events_view.php?rec_id=0000000420&category_id=0000000001