Following up my last post about how many art museums make it hard for parents with small children to visit, with some thoughts about an arts experience that I participated in over the weekend that provides access to families in a very broad-minded way.
While art museums aren’t necessarily the place to bring toddlers, it seems community orchestra concerts are!
I performed as an oboist with the Mill Valley Philharmonic this weekend in a series of concerts featuring music by Beethoven, Barber and J S Bach. It was great to see families in the audience at the performances — and it was especially gratifying that there were so many children from babes in arms to kindergartners to elementary, middle and high school students.
Here are the factors that make the attendance of children at such concerts a no-brainer for their parents:
- The concerts my orchestra gives are free.
- The performances happen at assorted times of the day across the span of a weekend, e.g. 2pm, 4pm and 8pm, making it possible to accommodate meals and bedtimes.
- Audience members are free to move about the space. People come in and out as needed with their squirming infants without causing a scandal.
- Many musicians hang about during the intermission and after the program so children and their parents can go and talk to them about their instruments.
These are small details. But they’re important ones. The kid-friendliness of the concerts that The Mill Valley Philharmonic puts on is one of the reasons why it’s so great that high-level community orchestras exist. The musical programs aren’t specifically oriented towards families. But they work on that level beautifully anyway.