When the weekend arrives, school and work is put to the side and it’s time to have some fun. So last weekend my husband and I took our three young kids (age 2, 5 and 7) to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Yup, you read that right, the Symphony.
When I was in school, actually, even when I was out of school, I perceived the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) as a form of entertainment only snooty, rich folk attended. It certainly wasn’t something I could see myself attending, no matter how much I enjoyed live music. And I do enjoy live music, jazz, world, blues, folk and yes, even classical. Music is big in our house and we like to expose our kids to various types.
I had heard about the TSO‘s Young People’s Concert series, a program to introduce symphonic music to young people, age 5 to 12 specifically. But I still couldn’t shake my own TSO stereotypes. I just couldn’t imagine my three kids dressed in their finest, sitting quietly for an hour. I dreaded the thought of those stares from other parents, the ones with the super well-behaved kids. Or worse, being asked to leave because we were being too disruptive to other patrons.
So when we were invited to attend the TSO‘s first concert in the Young People’s Concert series, I left my stereotypes at home and packed the kids to head downtown for some musical fun. Before each concert, the TSO puts on a 20-minute pre-concert performance in the North Lobby of the Roy Thomson Hall. It’s been awhile since I’ve driven downtown so we arrived late and missed the pre-concert show. My oldest daughter and I were really disappointed since we were both looking forward to the harp performance.
We made it to our seat just before the show started and I have to tell you I was impressed with the seats. I’ve gone to live theatre and one of my biggest complaints has been the seats being very narrow and not well padded making for an uncomfortable evening. The seats in the Roy Thomson Hall were just the opposite and I noticed that right away. But what really impressed me, what I really noticed was how family friendly the TSO Young People’s Concerts are. The lights were turned down when the show started but to a low light versus plunging us in the dark. The conductor talked to the kids; she involved them versus just performed for them. I think that made a big difference in keeping the kids focused. The music was broken out in chunks and the selections were varied and fun. It was amazing watching the kids throughout the hall conducting and focusing their attention on the stage. Even my own kids, right down to my two-year-old, was transported on a musical journey; you could see it on their faces.
Each of the TSOs Young People’s Concerts has a different focus. The concert we attended, the first in the series, was The Listener, featuring the Magic Circle Mime Company. The kids loved their antics. I thought the experience was amazing and very different from what I expected. I think my kids enjoyed it very much too:
(Note: I must apologize for the dark, shaky, video. My youngest was running around in the background, trying to peek into the camera.)
The TSO Young People’s Concert series has four more shows scheduled: Jack and the Beanstalk (Nov 14/09 at 1:30 and 3:30), Paddywak! (Feb 6/10 at 1:30 and 3:30), Spanish Fire! (Mar 27/10 at 1:30 and 3:30), and A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Apr 24/10 1:30 and 3:30). Tickets can cost as little as $15.00 per child/adult when you buy three or more. You might also enjoy listening to the TSO podcasts too (including the Young People Concert series).
Separate from the concert, we were invited backstage to meet the mime’s and some of the musicians as well as play with some of the instruments. The kids thought this was great fun. My oldest daughter loved the exercise with the mimes. They picked an emotion (excitement) and tried to convey the various stages of excitement, from one being the least to ten being the most, all without making a sound. My son loved the percussionist and creating a rain storm by using parts of his body. It was an amazing time.
So next time you’re looking for a new experience with your kids, why not checkout the TSO Young People’s Concert series.