It can be one of the greatest bonding experiences between a parent (or grandparent, or other significant person) and child: going to classical concerts together.
But how do you know when your child is ready to graduate from boisterous kiddies' cushion events to the full concert hall experience?
It's a question that ABC Classic listener Elizabeth, the mother of a 3-year-old, recently sent to presenters Russell Torrance and Martin Buzacott. They asked for your advice, and we were overwhelmed with responses. Here's a selection of the best tips.
1. Choose the first concert carefully
First impressions count, so pick a first concert that will inspire the imagination. Matinees and shorter concerts are also a good place to start. Little ones are often too tired for evening concerts and are still developing their attention spans. Heading to outdoor concerts can also be a good introduction where kids aren't as restricted by concert hall conventions.
- I took my daughter to The Magic Flute. I only bought a ticket for myself in case it didn't work, but she sat between my legs and was totally enthralled. Bryan, VIC
- It's a good idea to start with daytime concerts when kids are quite young. I've found by evening they are mostly exhausted and get restless and then it's not as good an experience for them (or us!) Carol, QLD
At concerts in Singapore, we noticed lots of small children … who then all went home at interval! Not a bad idea if the grown-ups are prepared to forego the second half.
2. Prepare kids ahead of concerts
Attending concerts can be a daunting experience for any newcomer, including children. Prepare them for what to expect, and help pique interest by giving them things to listen out for in advance, otherwise curious young minds might be more likely to ask questions during concerts.
My advice to parents and grandparents 1. Show children images of orchestras and concert halls 2. Listen to the pieces before going to the concert 3. Talk about the sounds, colours and feelings the instruments make. Sasha
3. Choose seating carefully and have an exit strategy
Choir stalls, or seats near the stage, are excellent options for first concerts. This brings kids close to the action and they can get engrossed in the visual details as well as the sounds. Good seating choices can also give you an exit strategy in case you need to leave mid-way through a concert.
- I took my daughter to her first concert when she was three at the Melbourne Town Hall. She was enamoured with watching the instruments as we were in the front row. Lisa VIC
I ask for an aisle seat at concerts, not too far away from a door. My little one at 5 years old sometimes has to get to a toilet at the most unexpected times. Helena
4. Make classical music a regular part of children's lives
A classical concert might be difficult to introduce to kids who have never listened to it. Find ways to make the sounds of classical music part of their everyday lives, whether it's by having the radio on at home, or in the car on the school run. You can also watch a lot of great concerts online, which can help kids get a better idea of what they'll see in a concert hall.
- A car trip, even just to the shops, with the radio on a classical music station works well for absorbing the beautiful sounds of such music. Sally, NSW
- I used to play the piano while they danced around the room. They loved that and became very good at listening and being creative together. Margaret, QLD
When our daughter was a young girl we'd watch Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall online with her. She loved Sir Simon's hair! Leesa, NSW
5. Finally, remember that most concert-goers love having children there
While you might fear your fellow concert-goers are dreading your child interrupting the concert, so many people expressed how much they loved seeing little ones in the audience.
- Take them as soon as they are old enough to stop crying or talking. (Then again, I've been known to cry in quite a few concerts, so maybe I mean wailing!) Jodie, NSW
- At Federation Concert Hall in Hobart, my 6-year-old son stood up mid-concert to 'conduct' the orchestra — to the delight of all the surrounding audience.
- Give me kids over an adult using their mobile any day!
- I personally would welcome seeing more children and young people at classical music concerts. They are the future. Louise, VIC
UPCOMING SHOWS THAT WE RECOMMEND
Choir of King's College, Cambridge
Saturday, 20 July 2010 - 7:30PM
Click here for more info and tickets
Echo Kids' Concerts
Saturday, 2 November 2019 - 9:45AM
Sunday, 3 November 2019 - 11:15AM
Click here for more info and tickets
Original article shared from ABC Classic