Eager to raise children who hate classical music? Try these simple steps: Assume they’ll never like it. Never take them to a classical music concert. Talk about how classical music is boring. Assure they never hear you enjoying a classical piece of music. This rule pretty much follows for all of parenting. If you tell a kid to hate something, work extra hard to hate it yourself and never give your kid the opportunity to love it, your kid will probably hate it.
If you want to raise a child who appreciates, and maybe even loves (or plays) classical music, take him or her early and often to see and hear it performed. My fingers just did all the walking for you, so cut the excuses, read this list, and get out there and give your kids some credit. I think they’ll surprise you. And they might just find something to love for a lifetime.
First, a collection of musical adventures from a venue that never fails to impress with the diversity of its offerings—the Mesa Arts Center. They’ll host a Holiday Arts & Music Festival with free admission and free parking on Dec. 12th and 13th. The event includes art by nearly 100 artists in 13 mediums, live entertainment, kids’ activities and more.
Other holiday happenings with a musical bent coming to the MAC include: Leahy Family Christmas (Celtic Canadian sibling singers) on Dec. 5th. Welk Stars (as in Lawrence Welk) Christmas Reunion on Dec. 6th. American Stars in Concert For the Holidays (surprise mix of American Idol top ten finalists) on Dec. 12th. Salt River Brass Concert (holiday pops) on Dec. 13th. You’re All I Want for Christmas (Christmas variety show with sing-a-longs) on Dec. 16th and 18th. Dave Koz and Friends (A Smooth Jazz Christmas) on Dec. 22nd. There’s more, but the brevity of blogging prevents me from listing everything here, so check their website for the full scoop.
I grew up listening with my mother to the music of the Boston Pops, and enjoyed a full circle moment when Lizabeth and I went to a Boston Pops concert together many years ago (she’s still wearing the souvenir t-shirt). Consider starting a new holiday tradition with one (or more) of these classical music concerts…
The Tempe Symphony Orchestra presents their annual Holiday Concert at McClintock High School at 7:30pm on Monday, Nov. 30th. (It’s free!) The ASU Symphony Orchestra and Choral Unions present their Holiday Concert (including works from Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Messiah) at ASU Gammage in Tempe on Dec. 6th from 2:30-4pm.
The Phoenix Symphony offers a rich musical menu during the holiday season—with many performances held on multiple dates—so their website is well worth a visit. Your choices this season include Holiday Express! (Dec. 2nd-4th), Holiday Pops (Dec. 4th-6th), Family Holiday Pops (Dec. 5th), Candlelight Messiah (starting Dec. 9th), Handel’s Messiah Sing-a-Long (Dec. 6th at 7:30pm) and a New Year’s Eve concert complete with complimentary champagne (Dec. 31st at 7pm).
I recall many a concert with a very young Lizabeth napping on my shoulder during the second half. It beats having your child fall asleep to the television or an iPod. The early exposure to classical music left Lizabeth eager to try violin lessons, leading to a decade of violin study and all the discipline and musicality that comes with it. I’ll never regret making that investment in concert tickets rather than video games or DVDs.
If musical theater is your thing, join fellow Broadway buffs at Phoenix Theatre Dec. 18th or 19th for Holiday Harmony featuring Broadway Baritones singing holiday and Broadway tunes. Among them will be Douglas Webster, who brought the house down during Phoenix Theatre’s passionate yet pristine production of Les Miserables last season. I suspect that tickets for this baby will be going fast.
In the mood for a bit of dinner theater? Check out the Singing Cowboy Christmas (with Pioneer Pepper and the Sunset Pioneers) at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa. The show, which features songs, carols, stories and poetry, runs Nov. 27th and 28th as well as several dates in December. I remember seeing Man of La Mancha with my dad at a Denver dinner theater when I was young, and it felt like quite the adventure!
I can’t recall how Jennifer and I heard about the first Phoenix Girls Chorus concert we saw together at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, but it clearly left an impression since Jennifer went on to happily sing and tour with them for many years. Had we never seen that concert together, she might never have discovered her musical talents. Hence my motto about children and the performing arts: Expose them early and often.
The Phoenix Girls Chorus will perform two holiday concerts this season—a Holiday Family Concert called “Memories and Music” at 7pm on Dec. 5th at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley, and a Holiday Classics Concert called “Holiday Grandeur” at 8pm on Dec. 21st at First United Methodist Church in Phoenix.
The Phoenix Boys Choir presents Holiday Traditions (traditional hymns and lively carols from around the world) at several locations throughout the Valley beginning Dec. 12th. The program features a special reenactment of “The Night Before Christmas.”
The Phoenix Children’s Chorus will perform 25 Years of Holiday Celebrations (with special guest artist Desert Echoes Flute Project) during a matinee and an evening performance on Dec. 5th. The event, which includes a silent auction, takes place at St. Agnes Church in Phoenix. (I love getting teacher gifts at auctions—it’s like doing double the good works!)
Phoenix Chorale (formerly the Phoenix Bach Choir) presents a free open rehearsal Dec. 4th from 6:30-9:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Phoenix. They’ll also perform several Home for the Holidays concerts at various locations (in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Sun City) Dec. 18th-22nd. The Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix is holding holiday concerts on several dates in December at various locations (in Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix and Scottsdale).
Finally, let me share a little something wonderful you’ll find a wee bit out of town. It’s the Wickenburg Friends of Music event, being held Dec. 4th at 7:30pm at the Wickenburg Community Center. Musica Dolce, a Baroque ensemble, will be playing music from medieval times through the Renaissance while spotlighting the history behind several Christmas traditions. It’s the type of performance you don’t get to enjoy very often, so check it out if you’re a lover of the unique or unexpected.
If you discover something especially wonderful this holiday season, please share it with fellow readers using the comment section below. And come back tomorrow for a sampling of family-friendly theater performances perfect for holiday together time.
Note: Always call/click ahead for event/ticket details. To enjoy comprehensive listings of family-friendly events, subscribe to Raising Arizona Kids magazine and/or visit the RAK calendar online at www.raisingarizonakids.com.