The weather is warm, school is out, and summer vacation is here. With the warm weather come farmers markets, family reunions, county fairs, rodeos, festivals, and holidays to divide our time. It is a wonderful time of year for children, if you can beat the heat.
With all of these festivities and celebrations comes an outpouring of live music in child-friendly settings. Listening to recordings is wonderful for every-day use, but it should not replace live music.
Live Music OpportunitiesHere are some of the avenues you may find free opportunities to listen, but you may have to do a little digging on your community calendar to find them.
- Art in the Park. Depending on the size of your community, these may be nightly, weekly, or monthly, or unfortunately, not at all. Look into neighboring cities if your community doesn't offer something like this. Usually held in the evenings, you bring a blanket and young children play in the grass while being serenaded by beautiful music.
- County Fairs There are often competitions held during county fairs, which gives children an opportunity to hear and see a large variety of talent in a short time. Come and go as you please.
- Farmers Markets Farmers markets will often have live music to listen to as you shop for local produce and homemade items.
- Community Performances For example, our city offers "noon music at the tabernacle". It gives local musicians an opportunity to share their talents and it gives the community a free opportunity to hear fresh talent. Churches will often be the buildings to host this, and it doesn't hurt to check and ask for a calendar of events.
- Community Theater These may or may not be free, but they are worth looking into. There are usually more performances like this done in the summer.
- ParadesThe marching band is a big hit for young children, even if they don't throw any candy.
Listening TipsIn light of all of these opportunities, there are a few things that you can do that will enhance your family's enjoyment of the music. Here are a few quick tips before we close:
- Dress for the occasion. If the event is in the evening, dress warm. If it is in the heat of the day, wear sunscreen and bring water for the kids.
- Watch your child's attention span. There is no shame in leaving a performance early. I recently took my children to hear the Presbyterian Church's beautiful bell choir. The children were enthralled, for the entire first song. During the second song they began to be really fidgety, and were distracting others in the audience. I left, and Peter talked about hearing the bell choir all day. If he had been forced to stay the entire hour, he may have been singing a different tune.
- Learn about the instruments before you go to the performance. Show your child pictures of the marching band instruments and tell your child what they are. When they see the tuba go by during the parade, your child will be excited because they will recognize it.
- If you are going to an orchestra and they have advertised the program, play recordings of the music at home in the background before you go to the symphony. Children and adults alike love to hear music that is familiar to them.
- Eat before you go to the performance, or if appropriate, bring food. Children will listen to their stomachs before they listen to the music.
- Express your own admiration for the performances. If you are obviously not enjoying the music, chances are your children will share your attitude. Fortunately the opposite is often true.