by Lynn I love the NAC. I've been to uncountable plays, concerts, and dance shows there. I still remember the first time I saw a symphony - we had to take a special out-of-town trip and it was a Very Big Deal - and it was wonderful and magical and so interesting. I think it's fantastic that we live in a town that is big enough to have its own symphony, and I want my kids to take full advantage of that.
The NAC is working hard to draw in the younger crowd by offering more than one child-friendly event. We're already subscribers to their Kinderconcertseries, which is aimed at children aged 3 to 8 years old. They're fairly laid-back events - everyone snuggles together on pillows on the floor. The great thing about the Kinderconcerts, though, is that they are so intimate - a small venue where the kids can really get up close and personal with the music.
Once your kids turn five, you can start thinking about their Family Adventures Series, which is a set of three concerts in the main hall featuring the full orchestra. I had a chance to check out the first in the series, Trick or Treat to a Wicked Beat, on Saturday, with my six-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
I was kind of worried, actually, that the kids would be bored. I find watching the orchestra to be fascinating, but you never know what's going to appeal to the six and seven year old brain. Would they like the classical music? Would they enjoy watching the instruments and the conductor?
I'm very happy to report that the NAC did a fantastic job of making the show kid-friendly. First of all, there are crafts and activities to do in the lobby areas - our concert featured pumpkin carving, ghost necklace making, and a display showing how various spooky special effects sounds are made. Be sure to leave lots of time to explore all three levels of the theatre to try everything. The craft stations open 45 minutes before the show, but they do get very busy so earlier is definitely better.
During the actual show, there's plenty to entertain the kids. I loved the big screen above the orchestra - it focused in on the soloists, just like at a rock concert, and I could quietly identify the instruments to my kids. I also really appreciated the awesome costumes the orchestra members were wearing - check out this photo and see if you can spot Supergirl, some really great witches, a bumble bee, a clown, a construction worker, a convict, a monk, and the classic dude-dressed-as-a-lady.
There were also dancers to interpret some of the numbers, which my kids ADORED, and there was a fun witch, Samara, who exchanged cute banter with the conductor and kept the kids interested and engaged between numbers. There was even an audience participation component - everyone took part in making musical sounds to create a "spell" for Samara, and a few lucky kids were pulled up onstage to help interpret The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
As for the music...it was amazing. A great collection of classics that I was happy to introduce to my little ones, and a Harry Potter song to close out the concert that my kids actually recognized. At exactly an hour long, it is the ideal length - enough for everyone to enjoy without getting fidgety or needing a bathroom break.
I had a great time, the kids had a great time, and most of all, I was glowing at the idea of introducing the kids to a whole new world of the arts. These concerts are such a good way to introduce your kids to the arts and the orchestra and I will definitely be checking out the rest of the series. Still to come are Rhythm & Shoes, A Musical Zoo! and Platypus Theatre's Charlotte and the Music-maker.
In other news, The Nutcracker is coming back to the NAC this December. I took my two kids last year - when they were a year younger - and it was a hit. It's much longer than the Family Adventures concerts - with the intermission, it was over two hours. My two did get tired partway through, but on the other hand, they still talk about it all the time and have already asked to go again this year. We sat in the very last row of the upper balcony last year, and not only could we easily see and hear everything, it turned out to be ideal seating for kids who needed to stand up and have a stretch on occasion, and who wanted to ask LOTS of questions.
So if you see a few squirmy kids in the very back row this year - come over and say hi!
(Thanks to the NAC for providing Lynn with complimentary tickets for Trick or Treat to a Wicked Beat. And thanks to Lynn for sharing her experience with us!)
Lynn is mom to 7-year-old Captain Jelly Belly, 5.5-year-old Gal Smiley, and 2.5-year-old Little Miss Sunshine. She blogs over at Turtlehead.