Monday, March 21, 2016

A musical afternoon

Our town has tons of opportunities (many of them free) to expose Biscuit to different kinds of music. And so far, he seems to love them all.

Last Sunday afternoon, we went to an annual family-friendly concert by our Philharmonia orchestra. The group has about 60 members of volunteer musicians who play strings, woodwind, brass and percussion.

The concert is called Pillow Pops, and the kids are encouraged to wear pajamas and bring blankets and pillows. They use the gym of one of the city recreation centers, and it's divided into four spaces - the orchestra in the back, then an open space for the dancers, then an area for the kids and their blankets and then several rows of chairs for adults.

I wanted to show how the setup looked, but I'm not sure what's going on with that lady in the pink shirt.

They started out playing music from the opera "Carmen." (And of course, Jeff's first comment was, "Isn't that the music from 'The Bad News Bears'?" And yes, it is.)

But it's also very Spanish. So a local dance group performed while wearing red flowing skirts, white puffy shirts and red flowers in their hair. The definitely looked the part.

Not long after they started playing, I glanced over at Biscuit, and he was just entranced. And then he looked at me, and I saw that he had teared up a little bit. It was so cool that the music moved him that much.

"Are you okay?" I asked him.

"I'm okay," Biscuit said. "My eyes just got watery all of a sudden."

The second part of the concert was by another classical composer (whose name I didn't catch). But what was really cool about it was that the conductor gave the kids a really fun introduction to it.

"When this next piece begins," the conductor said, "it's going to sound like a violin says, 'I want a piece of chocolate cake.'" And he made a really funny face and used a whiny voice.

"Then an oboe is going to answer the violin by saying, 'You can't have any, na, na, na, na, na." 

He went on to explain some other parts of it, too, and it just really helped the kids connect to the music. I think kids are so used to music that has words, that it can be hard to understand instrumental music.

The whole thing was only an hour. And since they planned several small parts to it, you could tell that they definitely understand the short attention span of kids.

The conductor told all the kids that after their last song, the musicians were going to stay put for a little while, and they were welcome to go up and talk to them, look at the instruments and ask questions.

Biscuit walked over to a cello player and asked him how long he had been playing.

"Forever!" the man said and laughed.

"Well, I'm quite a musician myself," Biscuit said. (I never claimed he was modest!) "I take piano lessons."

"That's really cool," the cellist said. "You know, I started out on piano at 10. And the I moved to the cello later."

On the way to the car, Biscuit said, "I can't believe I finally got to see my first orchestra!"

He's all of 7, and he FINALLY got to see his first orchestra!

I'm glad we have so many opportunities to take Biscuit on trips and expose him to different things. Jeff and I have agreed that the hardest part is just making the time to do it. But it's important. I think it will make him a well-rounded person and give him a bigger picture of the world.

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