My 2-year-old loves instrumental/classical music, and he and I have watched hours of YouTube videos together of people playing his two favorite instruments, the banjo and the violin. To keep feeding his interest, I want to expose him to live classical and instrumental music, since he enjoys it so much.
But he is two. Which means, to keep his attention, we can’t be too far from the stage. In addition, our schedule is subject to meltdowns, fevers, and explosive diarrhea. It simply isn’t prudent for me to throw down $60 (or more!) for two tickets on something we might not even be able to attend, depending on how the winds of fate may blow. So, I began to explore the free classical music options nearby. However, my first attempt at classical music culture was a FAIL.
I decided to take advantage of the free chamber music at my local library. It was located in a basement, and they even had free ice cream! However, I soon realized that the other guests were expecting a refined evening of classical music, sans toddlers. Although we sat in the back, each time a movement ended, my little boy cheered and screamed, “More Bach!” (he refers to all classical music as “Bach”), and after about the third time ALL the adults turned their heads and stared (and not in a grandmotherly, “oh-how-adorable” way), I packed up and left.
After that, I realized that I should probably stick to free/cheap, outdoor, or casual venues explicitly geared toward families. So, what were my options in DFW for live instrumental music? Actually, quite a few!
The Dallas Opera‘s Family Season has an amazing series of performances geared toward the younger crowd, with scenes adapted from folk tales and featuring music from the great composers. Some of the works have positive messages, such as attending school or anti-bullying. The 2015-16 season consists of three performances. Tickets to single performance are $5 each, while if you shell out for a subscription to the three performances, the ticket prices drops to $4. Now at that price, I can chance a meltdown! For more info, visit The Dallas Opera Family Season.
Plano Community Band has a FREE Summer Concert Series beginning in June and running through July every other Monday night at Haggard Park, off 15th street, in Plano. Approximately 400-500 people attend, bringing picnic dinners and sitting on lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the evening performance that begin at 7pm. If you get there early to snatch a spot, take your kiddos over to the playground to burn off some energy. Check out their schedule here.
The Basically Beethoven Festival is presented FREE by the Fine Arts Chamber Players at Dallas City Performance Hall on Sundays during the month of July. In its 35th Season, it begins at 2:30pm with a recital by a young rising star, and then at 3pm a classical performance. The website explicitly states that families and children are welcome. Paid street parking is available. For more information, click here.
Levitt Pavilion in Arlington’s tagline is “FREE Music Under the Stars.” In addition to a Children’s Summer Concert series, in the evening they provide more than 50 free concerts a year with original music by professional musical artists from world music to jazz and country to Indie rock, including musicians that play classical instruments. They have room for more than 3000 people, so bring a blanket or lawn chair, picnic, and enjoy some music under the open Texas sky. Check out their schedule here.
Richardson Community Band gives FREE summer performances at 7pm on several Sunday evenings at the Richardson Civic Center through August. They also give a Patriotic themed concert around July 4th outdoors, culminating in a fireworks show, so keep them on your radar for next year. Click here for their schedule.
Schedules seem to be seasonal, for example, the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Dallas Observer sponsored evening Patio Sessions during the spring, which ran through April and May of this year, and I am sure this fall will provide more opportunities to get your kid’s classical on. In addition to checking the calendar at DFW’s classical station WRR101 here, you can browse the options at Open Classical, a Dallas based group that supports a more casual consumption of classical music (open classical mic night at Buzzbrews, for example). While some of their events take place after I am usually begging my child to brush his teeth and get his pjs on, many are during the day or early evening, and include performances by piano gymnasts, classical musicians that play with a jazz combo, and high energy violinists.
What did I miss? Where are some other great venues in DFW to listen to classical music that are free or inexpensive AND family friendly?
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Dana, originally from Hawaii, finally settled down in Dallas after working on both the West and the East Coast. She juggles being a private investor, a doula, and raising a multilingual little boy, Sebastian (May 2013). Dana voraciously consumes audiobooks on the go since quiet reading time has eluded her since Sebastian was born. In addition to keeping tabs on all the great family events in Dallas, Dana is an expert on air travel with a baby, having dragged Sebastian multiple times across the world before he was 1 year old. Dana and her husband, Luis, reside in North Lake Highlands.
How wonderful to see other moms exposing little ones to classical music. My 4 year old loves it and recognizes a bunch of works & composers. I’d go nuts listening to kiddie music. It’s never to early to introduce them to the arts.