Yesterday I went to Lincoln Center to hear the NY Philharmonic. I love this activity. I’m hooked. My formula is usually:
Cheaper Seats x More Concerts = JOY
(Although, yesterday’s seats were a little too crummy, even for me. It is good to discover your limits.)
In a time when any piece of music can be heard by commanding Siri, people underestimate the value of the live performance. And, by the way, although I love to hear that my students have been to a classical performance, I am referring to any type of live performance.
So here are some reasons to jump in with both feet and experience live music.
In no particular order:
No “devices” allowed.
Dress up clothes are encouraged.
The event feels special.
Musicians have skills worth seeing. They act as a team. There is a quarterback, special teams, kickers. They must play with precision, moving and breathing together.
Watching an instrument being played is amazing.
Hearing music you never heard before is educational.
Live music sounds and “feels” different than a recording.
Depending on the venue, certain behavior and ritual is expected. This is all part of the discipline of music.
Here are a few suggestions.
Before you go, listen to the pieces you will hear. You don’t have to study them, just play them in the background so they are familiar.
Bring a little pair of binoculars. Even from the cheap seats you can see the instruments close up.
When you sit in the theatre, check out the program. There are often notes that guide you to listen for certain elements. That makes it more fun. Some of the pieces tell a story.
I highly encourage you to give your family the gift of this experience. It does not have to cost a lot. For a little more than the price of a movie ticket, you can share this experience. You will be making a life-long memory.
Every 6-8 weeks I declare “Movie Day”. This means each student plays the piano, but we substitute a movie instead of theory. It is usually a surprise. The only qualities it must possess is that it has to be a Musical and I try to pick one that I think the students have never seen. This means that many are old, in black and white, and a little slow paced off the start. Sounds dull when I put it that way; I know. This activity is really all about exposure. Many times when the movie starts, the kids look at me cockeyed with an expression that says, “Really? Well I guess it is better than theory.” But then later I glance into the movie room and see them trying to tap dance like Fred Astaire or laughing at slapstick humor or just snuggled up listening to a sweet song.
If you grow up in a family that has regularly experienced the non-animated Musical genre, it is not shocking to see an actual person break out into song about… I don’t know… the price of lettuce, let’s say. But if this is not your go-to activity for family fun night, it seems a little weird. Just this week a student said, “Why is there so much singing?” and another replied, “It’s a Musical.”
So this week we watched the Rodgers and Hammerstein rendition of “Cinderella”. Produced in 1965, this is one of those movies that was broadcast on TV once a year, and I will never forget it. This Musical is really lovely. I searched for it for literally years and then there it was on Amazon. At first glance you will think it is a Mr. Rodgers episode as the staging, etc. is surprisingly simple, but then all of a sudden everyone is entranced.
Another reason I picked this movie is that this weekend the Wilton High School is performing a similar version on stage. High School performances are crazy good these days. They are very reasonably priced and a great way for your kids to get exposure without breaking the bank. I am hoping that some of my students will now be a little more familiar with the music and their families may go see this show May 18th, 19thor 20th. You can purchase tickets online: wiltonps.org
If you cannot fit this activity into this weekend, keep your eyes open for shows in other towns. This is a wonderful experience and if you follow it up with ice cream, you are creating a full-fledged memory! Come young, come old. When it comes to the Musical,
Sometimes when the weather gets nice out and the days get longer, it is tricky to get your child to practice the piano. Here are some ideas that might help.
1. Schedule practicing for a time just after your student has had a chance to do a more physical activity.
2. It might be time to add a little extra positive comments … let him or her know which are your favorite songs and have them play those again for you.
3. We are getting ready to have our “concert day”. Maybe you can talk about what song will be played and do a little pre-concert playing or end each practice session working on that song.