Well now I am a father myself, I want to do the same for my two daughters. And how lucky I am for this to be living in a different country and a different time from when I was a child!
When I was a child, I lived in New Zealand. Compared to the UK, there weren’t many classical music concerts at all. And the concerts that were around were certainly not designed with children in mind. Fortunately, though, I just loved music so much that I was able to sit still. But I don’t think many other children would have been able to.
But that is a world away from what’s around now, here in the UK. Many orchestras all round the UK put on concerts especially for children. I have been taking my daughters to the ones at Birmingham Symphony Hall with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) for several years now. And they are seriously good fun!
Each of these concerts has a theme and a presenter. Past themes have included ‘Heros and Villains’, ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’, ‘Fairytales and Fantasies’… And the theme last Sunday was ‘Water World’—yes, there was a children’s concert last Sunday and I was at there with my daughters! As for the presenters, let’s just say some of them are completely mad!! In keeping with the theme of ‘Water World’, the presenter on Sunday came dressed as a pirate! And he threatened that anybody who didn’t like the concert would have to walk the plank!!!
Not that there was any chance of that. The presenter introduced each piece of music with jokes and interesting stories. This really brought the music to life. And each piece of music was carefully chosen to fit in with the ‘Water World’ theme. One of the pieces was the theme to ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
But don’t for a minute think this wasn’t a real concert with real music. Some of the music was quite modern (e.g. ‘Storm’ from Britten’s Peter Grimes—see here for a video). And when the orchestra played the music, the presenter left the stage leaving the music to speak for itself. I think the kids responded to this very well. There were a lot of children in the audience, and on the whole they listened very well. My daughters certainly liked the music and understood what it was all about.
As an added bonus, you could meet and talk to the musicians in the interval. What a great way to get inspired about playing an instrument!!!
And did I mention the great playing by the CBSO and the amazing Symphony Hall at Birmingham?
Children’s concerts nowadays really are so much fun—well the ones at Birmingham are anyway. I challenge any kid to be bored at one of these concerts. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I’d been to one of these concerts as a kid. I would have been amazed just seeing the Symphony Hall. I honestly think the whole experience could well have changed my life!
So kids, parents, why don’t you go to one? If you’re in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, the next one there is on Sunday 16th May. The theme is the ‘Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra’.
See you there, perhaps! (And if not, then you shall walk the plank!!)
P.S. And no, I’m not being paid to advertise the Birmingham Symphony Hall or the CBSO. I just want to get as many kids as possible to go to a classical music concert!