Taking Your Child to the Symphony: Getting the Most Out of the Experience.

Followers of this blog know that I am a piano teacher, and imparting a love of music to my kids is something I am very passionate about. When I shared ideas for introducing your child to classical music back in August, one of my suggestions was to actually attend symphony performances with your little ones. Our small, arts-loving town has been blessed with an incredible symphony orchestra that offers annual free family concerts. This year will probably be a much different experience with the freakishly-strong-and-always-energetic Baby Boy in tow (I imagine I’ll be leaving the concert feeling like I’ve been beat up instead of rejuvenated); but all the same — I’m looking forward to it.  In anticipation of the event, I’ve put together a list of questions and activities you can do with your child to help him get the most out of his symphony experience.

symphony

BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE:

I’m a big fan of introducing concepts and ideas to my preschooler before we attend events. If we are going to see a movie in theaters, we read the corresponding book first. I do the same thing when it comes to orchestra music. When you purchase tickets, you will be able to see what music will be played at the symphony. Talk about this music with your child before the performance to both build excitement and to help make the experience relevant and accessible. If there is a corresponding book, scene from a movie or simple story that goes with the music your child will be hearing (and in the case of a children’s symphony, there usually is!), tell your child the story or watch the scene from the movie on YouTube. This helps ensure that he will be actively listening during the performance, rather than just waiting for it to be done!

Tell your child what a composer is, and talk about the composers of the music you will be hearing. THIS WEBSITE has lots of fun composer worksheets and coloring pages for kids (I often use their resources for my piano students!).

Prepare your child for what he will see. Talk about the different instruments that make up an orchestra and what music families they belong to. Explain how a conductor leads the orchestra.

Explain symphony etiquette — that your child should aim to be quiet, whisper, and sit in his seat for the experience so that others can enjoy the beautiful music.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE:

Arrive early! You’ll have a chance to walk around the symphony hall a bit and check out the musicians warming up, perhaps even approaching the stage for a close-up view  of the instruments in case you have nose-bleed seats!

As the instruments warm up, ask your child about the different sounds he is hearing. Which instruments belong to the strings, woodwinds, percussion and brass families?

Look through the program together. Point out the names of the orchestra players, the biography of the conductor and any other background information that is included in the program.

DURING/AFTER THE CONCERT:

Encourage your child to watch the conductor’s movements. What gestures does he make to achieve certain sounds from the players?

Does the music sound scary, happy, peaceful or exciting to your child? How does it make him feel?

Listen for featured solos during each piece, and ask your child if he recognizes the instrument playing the solo.

Ask your child which piece was his favorite and why?  Were there any pieces he didn’t like? Which instrument sounds did he enjoy?

As you can see, attending the symphony with your child presents a wealth of learning experiences when it comes to music appreciation, musicality, critical thinking and history. All this aside, early childhood musical experiences cultivate a lifelong love of music, making this a worthwhile outing for your little one regardless of what is learned!

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Comments

  1. What wonderful tips!! My daughter would love to go to the symphony (she pretends to be an entire one most days with her instruments). Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  2. What fantastic ideas! I love your tips for preparing them (and us) for the performance. Off to post on Pinterest!

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