One Show at a Time

A couple of months ago a friend and I took our kids to a children’s concert at the St. Louis Symphony.  As the start of the show approached, we rushed to take our seats. Happily, I noticed a few familiar faces from our elementary school. But as everyone began to settle into their place, I noted that there were more empty spaces than I would have liked to see. I was surprised. The program for children’s concerts is specifically designed to engage a young audience, so why weren’t there more munchkins?

I think that geographic location, how much free time we have, and different interests within the family play an important role in how we spend our time. Perhaps people that live in big cities expose their children to more cultural activities because there aren’t as many outdoor options as in smaller towns. If both parents have full-time jobs, kids sports commitments, and other engagements, they may prefer a relaxing weekend over an “artsy” one. And it can simply be that symphony and theater make you nod off.  But I believe that regardless of what the situations and interests are, parents may want to ensure there is a strong presence of the arts in their children’s lives.

Exposing children to live performance is important for their development because it helps them grow their imagination and creativity. It also helps them improve vocabulary, memory, self-discipline, concentration, interpretation, and listening skills. Through the arts, children are exposed to other cultures, history, and traditions. And exposing them from a young age contributes to the development of their interests and builds a future audience.

Some of the things I find helpful in staying informed about local events is subscribing to newsletters from local venues and getting season tickets. This way performance gets added to the calendar and nothing is planned during that time slot. I am constantly searching for free shows and I love to see friends share via social media local events for kids.

Over the years I have also made peace with the fact that we don’t always have to be together as a family. As I mentioned in the “Don’t Spoil the Movie post”, sometimes it’s actually appropriate to split up. Not only does it allow for that “special” one-on-one time during the performance, but it’s also a great opportunity to have an age appropriate post-show conversation.  While “Wicked” is an excellent source of entertainment for my twelve-year-old, a two-and-a-half-hour show is not the best choice for my younger son.

Obviously we can’t always control where we live.  And there are many factors that impact how much leisure time we have. However, how we spend that free time, is something we have a say in. One of the reasons I enjoy the symphony is because my mother is a former violinist and she exposed me to classical music from a young age. But while it’s natural for us to introduce our kids to what we’re interested in, sometimes it’s good for them if we step out of our comfort zone and look past our hobbies, even if it means one parent taking the child or asking a friend to include your kid. This doesn’t mean that we have to take them to a weekly show; but, placing a stronger emphasis on the arts definitely can’t hurt.



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