30 January 2015

Is there room for children in classical concerts?

Bring children of all ages to classical concerts, says Michael Murpurgo http://www.classicfm.com/music-news/latest-news/children-classical-concerts/

No says Kyung Wha Chung, who complained about coughing child during 'tetchy comeback concert.  (Read more at http://www.classicfm.com/music-news/latest-news/kyung-wha-chung-coughing-child/#72zWzl3r0qDwVv5r.99)

I think these two articles above are comparing apples and bananas.  

Taking a child to a concert doesn't necessarily mean that they will cough!  Indeed anyone coughing at a concert shouldn't be there, as coughing is disruptive for everyone else who are trying to listen to the music.  And it's probably not much fun for the person trying not to cough!

But children attending a concert who appreciate being there and are enjoying themselves is 'a good thing'.

When I was taken along to classical concerts as a child, the ones I enjoyed were where someone had taken the trouble to introduce us to the music.  This was either by us being introduced to excerpts beforehand or, in one case, having the score to follow whilst the music was being played.  That one really stuck in my mind; it was Beethoven's 7th Symphony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DeTyccyzvI.

I can understand Kyung Wha Chung being rather fed-up with the child coughing.  But on the other hand will that child ever dare go to a concert again?

When our youngest daughter was about ten we wanted to go along to an 'Opera's Greatest Hits' concert and couldn't get a babysitter. So we dragged her along, although I'm not sure if she enjoyed the experience, but she certainly knew all the tunes.  This must presumably be from hearing them in the background at home.  And now she's grown up she does enjoy some opera.

Perhaps the answer's to start by taking children along to concerts specifically aimed at children such as: http://childrensclassicconcerts.co.uk/.

There are lots of classical pieces especially aimed at children which I can think of:

  • Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens
  • Dolly Suite by Faure (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcNHP12m-_g)
  • Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten
  • Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev
  • Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMSXdKun1GU)

and here are a few more good entry points for children, which I didn't think of:

  1. From: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jun/16/bbc-ten-pieces-classical-music-primary-school-children
Drum Works performing Anna Meredith’s Connect It for body percussion.

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