Sometimes I feel like I have split personality disorder. Half of me wants to be a completely unschooling, backwoods homesteader, while the other half of me wants to take advantage of every art and music opportunity that a busy city can provide. Although it means spending lots of time on the road, I guess we are lucky to live within driving distance of this sort of event. So after a weekend spent feeding one side of my personality in the desert, we spent last weekend on the musical side.
Our family is a member of the Utah Symphony and Opera Youth Guild. I heard about this by chance a few years ago, and immediately signed up for the program. In return for a very nominal fee, my children and I have been able to participate in coat checking and educational opportunities offered by the guild, and see many wonderful concerts very inexpensively. In addition, they offer many extras including a special youth guild recital in which selected members of the guild can perform with the Utah Symphony.
Last weekend, our whole family, including my parents, went to Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City to see the Utah Symphony perform the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2, Tottentanz, and two Ravel Suites (Mother Goose and Daphnis et Chloe.) It was Maximus’ first experience with a full length symphony concert, and he was very excited to be included. While he had gone to shorter, “Lollipops” series, and even an opera, I was unsure how he would sit quietly for the length of the full concert. He did wonderfully. The music was fantastic, as well.
Since all my children are musicians, I have long felt that exposure to live performances is a must as part of their school experience. Even less-than-stellar live performances have an energy and spark the imagination in a way that listening to a recording usually does not. Another reason to go to live performances is that we are exposed to music that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for ourselves. For example, our last concert included a percussion concerto that was very exciting to watch. I don’t know if my children dream of being on that stage while we are watching the concert, but I certainly dream of them being there someday.
How can you find out about programs like the youth guild? Many organizations have special programs to attract children and educators to their events. Many times, it is just a matter of visiting a web site and finding a live person to call or e-mail. Look for a heading like “Education/Outreach.” Once you have established contact, you can find out what they are offering and how you can take advantage of it. Calling the box office is another way to find out about these programs. Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy. You are the media department for your little school! Take advantage of these programs – you’ll be glad you did.