One of my favourite things about summer is the abundance of community concerts. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expose children to live music — without worrying about keeping them contained to seats or having to buy expensive tickets in advance.
Think it needs to be ‘kids music’ for your kids to enjoy it? Think again.
Ken Kelly has been playing drums for the rock n’ roll band The Monoxides for three-quarters of his life. He also writes music features for various publications and maintains the website MusicNerd. He describes his children, at ages 9 and 6, enjoying live music.
“One evening we were out for a bite to eat where my bandmate Marco Rocca happened to be performing,” he shares. “The kids were quite taken with it and clapped rather enthusiastically after each of the songs. It didn’t matter so much that they didn’t know the songs, as much as they just had the experience of seeing live music.”
“Music is such a universal thing that I feel exposure to the medium is paramount,” continues Kelly. “Much the same way that parents try their kids in sports, I feel it is equally, if not more, important to open their minds to the creative possibilities within. Do it while they are young.”
Young inspiration can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment – and even employment. Kelly was just entering his teen years when The Monoxides formed; the band still performs, and music journalism is a major part of Kelly’s career.
From buskers on the corner to major concert events, live music can be a great experience for children. Our kids are three and four years old and they’ve already been to half a dozen or more concerts – most outdoor, free shows, which allows them to embrace their energetic nature and enjoy the experience, without us as parents feeling like we need to try to make them sit still for the benefit of the other audience members.
Some tips for parents tackling the live music outing for the first time:
Be prepared to walk away: Your kid might not love the large crowds, loud noises, or your taste in tunes. Don’t force it. Go into the concert knowing you might have to leave. If you make it to the encore, it will be a huge accomplishment.
Plan for success: Pack your bag with the usual treats you need for a successful outing: water bottle, snack, colouring book, non-noise-making toy. If the show is outside, bring hats, bug spray, sunscreen, a blanket, sweaters, etc.
Protect the ears: Lots of music lovers like it loud, but your little one’s ears aren’t accustomed to (or damaged yet by) the decibel levels. There are plenty of funky ear protectors made just for little heads. Older kids can learn the benefits of ear plugs.
Ask about family rates: Not into the outdoor scene? Many concert halls have special rates and packages to encourage family outings. Call up your favourite local venue and find out what they offer.
Involve the kids: Don’t assume you know what kind of music they might like. Ask them. Play a few YouTube videos of bands that are performing in your area and let them decide what musicians sound appealing.
But the most important tip: Give it a try! Find a free summer concert and mark it on your calendar. Most communities host weekly concert series, and there are usually a few major shows each season that are accessible to everyone. (We’ve got a list of the free concerts happening around the Greater Moncton Area this summer to help you get started.) We’ve enjoyed some award-winning talent without spending a cent – and we’ve even made it to the last song!