Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teaching Music and Theater Appreciation Involves More Than Baby Einstein

When I was pregnant with Avlyn I had a friend give me a whole set of those Baby Einstein Dvd's. I think we opened two before I resold it on eBay. While I appreciate the effort the company made at marketing a product to parents under the guise that listening and watching these makes their baby smarter, it just wasn't for us.

But that doesn't mean I'm against teaching music from a young age. It just means I want a more hands-on approach to a subject that should be fully experienced with all the senses. That's why I'm a big believer in live theater shows for young children.

I have some friends who tell me, "Oh, well I took baby to see Sesame Street Live-Nick Jr. Live, Dora Live etc.. They loved it." That's great. It's a start in the right direction. But is it true music and theater appreciation for preschoolers? I know, I know, you may be thinking that your child is not going to sit through a 2-hour show without misbehaving unless Blue is on an adventure to find clues. But have you tried?

The same parents who thought it imperative to play a Baby Mozart CD to their stomach during pregnancy are now assuming their child is too little to sit through the Nutcracker or a high school rendition of Oklahoma. Where did we lose them on the quest for increasing their child's brain power? Hopefully not for the reason that attending a live show is just too much trouble and a CD or DVD is easier.

With our son we did the usual Sesame Street shows - and ultimately he really doesn't have an appreciation for music or the theater. With my daughter though, I decided to try something different. I decided to forgo the kiddie shows and start with a more adult show. Last year we went and saw the musical Mamma Mia! It was almost 3 hours long. She had recently turned 4, and she sat through every second of it without complaint. Later that year we saw a local production of The Wizard of Oz.

This year we saw Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which includes some of the best music in a Disney show, in my opinion. The play was not aimed at kids (the fact that I could see the broomstick Babette's butt any time she bent over was testament to that.)but was a traditional off-broadway show. Again, she sat through it all without complaint. She clapped, she cheered, she got scared when the lights dimmed and the wolves appeared, and she laughed at Lafue's antics. She truly appreciated the show and the music. And to me that is more educational than any cleverly marketed DVD program or CD.

To make it more enjoyable, I download the music from the musicals and we listen to it on our way to the theater. If the show isn't a musical, then I see if there is a movie of the play and we watch that before seeing the live show. I've yet to attempt a show that neither of us has any background information on.

Not only is she learning to appreciate theater and music, she's learning how to behave at an adult event. This is a life lesson that will prove good for her as she grows and experiences new things. She's learning what it means to get dressed up and act like a lady. Now my goal is to cast a line and reel my son back in. I'm convinced I can convince him to try a show next year. I would love to watch both of my children appreciate live theater and music together.

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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful way to introduce your children to music and the arts! As a theater lover I can appreciate the desire to cultivate that same love in our children. Well done!