Introducing Kids To (Live) Music

We just got back from a long weekend with family and friends where we were treated to a special outdoor acoustic show from one of our favorite bands, Hot Buttered Rum (great band for people of all ages!). These guys played our wedding, so it’s especially fun for us to bring our little Monkey along to their shows.

I love outdoor shows, especially on a beautiful summer day or warm evening. Bringing your kids along can be one of the best ways to introduce them to music.  Some of my earliest childhood memories center around music and live shows so, needless to say, music has always been important to me.  Before pregnancy, live shows were something the Dude and I ventured to regularly and would even plan vacations around. That didn’t stop when I got pregnant. The Monkey probably went to about 30 shows in the womb, from bluegrass and classical to jazz and popular rock. My last concert was about two weeks before my due date. I’m still not sure how I waddled my way to that show, but I certainly got plenty of dancing space!

There is no better way to expose children to music than to introduce them to the live creation of it. To actually experience the formation of beautiful and complex melodies is a wonderful way to stimulate the senses of children and help cognitive and physical development. However, as important as it is to expose young ears to the gift of music, it’s even more important to protect those ears. The type of venue, music genre, the type of crowd, and the acoustics are important pieces of information to gather before you buy your tickets.

If you have an infant, a comfortable wearable wrap or carrier is the ideal way to bring your baby along to a show. If your child is walking, running and exploring, it’s best to bring them to shows that have a safe space for them to do those things (with someone watching them, of course). It’s also very important to buy a good pair of headphones for your child.  If the show is acoustic, headphones won’t usually be necessary. However, even local summer shows in the park can be loud. You may not need the headphones, but always make sure you have them handy. Before we go to a show, we practice with the Monkey by putting the headphones on at the house while playing music. Making a game of it or giving your child a sticker or treat when they leave the headphones on is a good way to make sure they keep them on. You can also buy a wax substance to put in their ears, but the Monkey prefers the headphones. So do I. That stuff is hard to use!

When you’re going to a show, make sure to pack like you’re going on a picnic or to the beach. Bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat, a change of clothes, water, and enough food and snacks. There is a chance your toddler or young child will get bored or tired, so make sure to bring them some toys or books. A blanket is also a good idea for them to rest on or use if it gets chilly.

One of the reasons I especially love outdoor summer concerts is because I do not bring the Monkey to indoor shows. In fact, I advise against bringing infants, toddlers, and very young children to indoor shows and concerts (unless they are specifically geared towards children). If the show is a sit-down concert, it will be difficult to keep a child seated and quiet for an entire show. If the music is standing only, it will often be too crowded and overwhelming. The acoustics are much louder indoors and there is also usually smoke in the air. Although you’ll find that at most shows, it’s easier to steer clear of smoke when you’re outdoors.

As fun as outdoor shows can be for the family, just make sure to keep checking in with your kids during the show. If they’re bored, cranky, or simply not into the show, don’t force it. Maybe they’re not comfortable or simply don’t enjoy the music. I’ve had to leave a few shows early or decided against bringing the Monkey to particular concerts.  That’s just a part of parenting and it’s why we have babysitters on speed dial.

When there is an upcoming outdoor show in your area that seems like a fun event for your child, don’t pass up the opportunity. Your infant and toddler probably won’t remember the actual experience, but the impressionable mark of live music will forever be etched into their mind and soul.

Have any live music experiences with children you want to share – good, bad or otherwise? I would also love from those who have concert recommendations, especially for toddlers.