Kid Friendly

imagesFollowing 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.

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  1. says

    I am a big fan of instrument petting zoos. They do a lot to inculcate the love of music in small children. And a secondary benefit is the demystification of orchestral instruments for adults as well. They learn more than they might let on.
    As to your post about the DeYoung, I was stunned. Anyone with children knows a stroller is the safest place for them and whatever environment they’re in. Makes no sense. If their concern are the new mega-strollers, they might provide a handful of collapsible umbrella strollers for the duration of the visit.
    I have seen some very creative ways in which spaces are made EITHER child-friendly OR young parent friendly. Partnerships with drop-in daycares, artsy playrooms “on site” with a 2 hour maximum, etc. If the new move is to make cultural spaces COMMUNITY spaces, then there must be a welcome sign, with accommodations, for all.