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Taking children to concerts

With M turning four earlier this year, Mr. R thought it was the right time to introduce him to the magic of live concerts. Of course, we are not idiots, and are familiar with children making complete nuisances of themselves disturbing other patrons in auditoriums and causing great embarrassment to their parents.

M, of course, would not be like that. He would be quiet, charming, attentive. At the most, he would swing his little legs in time to the music.

M’s first public concert was to Old Goa to see the famed Jesus College Cambridge Choir perform a Sacred Music Concert for Holy Week. Intense.  Because we were involved with the organising, we roped in M to help distribute the programmes. There, he was, at the entrance to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, dressed in his long pants and shirt, looking incredibly handsome and serious as he gave a programme to everyone who came in. My heart burst with pride, of course, but I had to keep an eye on him because he tends to lose his temper when people get too friendly, especially the women (don’t ask).

He soon tired of being polite and asked to go sit with his granny, while I continued to stay at the back distributing programmes. He stayed there quietly through the first half, through all the incomprehensible Latin and the high notes. He clapped enthusiastically when everyone else did and seemed to be having a good time. He began to get a little fidgety after about 45 minutes and I had to take him to the back where we sat quietly, away from the audience. We made it through the long concert without a tantrum, or noise. Score one for classical music.

The next week, we took M to a fundraising concert in aid of our charity Child’s Play. The Bager Trio, a flute-bassoon-piano trio from London were performing that evening. M was already familiar with the flute and bassoon from his favourite ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and we have a keyboard at home which he enjoys very much. At the door, he checked tickets, gave programmes and asked to go in when everyone else did. He sat through the first two works and then began sliding up and down his seat. And he began humming to himself. I had to take him out.

This humming thing has begun ever since Mr. L brought him ‘Oscar’s Orchestra’ a BBC cartoon series that introduces children to classical music through the story of a rebel piano who fights against an evil dictator who has banned all music. The classics form the background music and while M enjoys the action and the story, he has also imbibed the tunes of 1812, Holst’s Planets, Handel’s Messiah and a host of other significant music.

And he hums this ALL the time now.

We tried the concert thing again yesterday, where the Hungarian-French pianist Maraoun Benabdallah was performing at the Maquinez Palace in Panjim. M is showing an inclination to the piano so we thought it would be nice for him to see a world-class pianist in action. He was prepped, coached, sworn to silence. The first work went off without a hitch. M craned his neck into the aisle trying to get a good view of the piano (one of the problems of being so small is that you can’t see too well, especially if you’re sitting way back, hoping to make a quiet getaway should you need to). After the second work began, he began to get a little fidgety. He drank some water, swung his legs (quietly) and then, began to hum. I shushed him a couple of times and said we’d leave, but he said he wanted to stay.

And then hummed a little quieter. It was almost as if he couldn’t stop himself or didn’t realise he was doing it.

He’s only four, I told myself. Go easy.

So I said we’d get something to eat and got him to leave the auditorium. A rickshaw ride later, we were back home, enjoying the safety of familiar surroundings. And what did M do? He asked to see a little bit of Oscar.

And life goes on.

***************

We’re taking a little break from concerts until the public humming stops (he does it even at meal times and when he’s alone and when there’s company). The music isn’t going anywhere – his heart overflows with it already.

I wish there were concerts specifically for young children. How do you introduce them to the beauty of live music otherwise?

Have you taken a young child to a classical concert? 

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