Enjoying Concerts and Plays with Kids
Be ready to field lots of questions. Your child will be inquisitive about plot lines and characters, and it’s likely that any children’s concert or show you attend will be filled with parents just like you—whispering explanations, pointing out familiar characters, and venturing off to the bathroom. Many families bring a bag of goodies to concerts or plays just in case. You can pack crayons and paper, books, and other quiet activities for your child to engage in if she becomes bored and fidgety. Even though she might appear completely absorbed by coloring Clifford the Big Red Dog a beautiful shade of blue, she’s still taking in the sounds and atmosphere. This is a time for parents not to sweat the small stuff. Assuming a relaxed attitude before you settle in to enjoy the show will help your child get the most out of the experience.
Eventually, of course, it will become necessary to teach your child not just about the music or theater she’s watching, but about the standards of etiquette expected during a live performance. Singhal recalls, “I verbally ‘walked’ my children through what was going to happen before we left the house and also told them what was expected of them: They needed to sit quietly in their seats and not talk while there was music playing. They were only to use ‘walking feet’ and ‘indoor voices’ once inside the hall. I also let them know that if they needed to leave, I would take them out at the end of a piece when the audience had started clapping.”
Knapp suggests, “If you think your child may be fussy, then ask for a seat near an aisle, so you can exit if you are disturbing everyone else. Most theaters are happy to accommodate you.”
Making Your Debut
Singhal advises that the first live performance that your child experiences should take place in a casual, family-friendly environment. She recommends searching your local city pages for First Night events or open-air shorts at fairs, amusement parks, or concerts in the park. “It’s usually not difficult to find out about concerts by children’s singers and songwriters such as Tom Chapin,” she says.
If you’re looking for classical fare, seek out concerts designed for kids. Many area symphonies or university orchestras host concert series in the park or Saturday afternoon performances just for kids. Knapp adds, “Museums often have performances for children. Most newspapers have a section now that focuses on family fun.”
Whether you choose to venture out to a weekend symphony in the park or decide to start by seeing your child’s favorite characters come alive on stage, your little one will take something valuable away from experiencing live entertainment at a young age. Share your impressions of what you saw. Ask your child to draw a picture of the thing she liked best about the performance. Encourage your child to think, dream, and talk about the event for days after the final curtain call.
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