Last week's Weekend Warrior post posed a dilemma: should my family and I go to Rebuilding Together's Construction Derby, with its homemade soapbox cars, or attend the Oklahoma City Philharmonic's "Cartoon Classics" Discovery Series family concert? Both events were listed in our Weekend Picks, MetroFamily's Thursday newsletter that features the best in Oklahoma City family fun for the upcoming weekend. I was sure my 7 year-old would enjoy watching the race and learning about all that's required to create a derby car. The thought of my 2 year-old sitting through a concert also gave me pause. After a long Saturday outdoors, though, we decided to take a break and enjoy a more relaxing Sunday afternoon at Civic Center Music Hall.
Tickets were still available and at $9 per person, the experience was absolutely worth the cost of admission.The Discovery Series is tailored to families: it's a short concert with family-friendly themes and hands-on activities before the show. Hands-on activities included craft tables and Instrument Playground, an open area set up with musical instruments kids could touch and play. That section captivated Sam and Isaac; the see-it-touch-it-play-it approach made the afternoon so much more than just going to hear music.
I didn't need to worry about our toddler being disruptive at the concert. Unlike any other classical music performance I've ever attended, sitting still and being silent weren't requirements. The event was clearly planned with families like ours in mind. Babies fussed in the balconies and while some parents did whisk them to the nearest exist, making a swift retreat to the nearest restroom didn't seem nearly as necessary as it would during a regular concert. It was a welcome change to see tolerance for the youngest members of our community in a place where they otherwise wouldn't be present. Rather than feeling distracted, I was comforted by that the fact that families were up and down with small kids throughout the 45-minute concert, as I knew it could be our turn to take a walk with Isaac at some point when he wouldn't sit still anymore.
Fortunately, the 45 minutes was just right. Sam, our second-grader, sang along with familiar tunes, participation that was encouraged during the show and Isaac managed to stay in his seat. It was a packed house with open seating and grandparents, parents and kids of all ages filled the aisles too.
The concert selection reflected the audience's varied generations: openers from The Flintstones and Looney Tunes recognizable to almost everyone along with Disney songs like "Kiss the Girl" and "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid and themes from The Lion King for our age group of new parents. I realized my children, like a lot of their peers present, didn't recognize many of the songs until the second half of the show. The orchestra conductor announced that Philharmonic staff had researched what children were really into and a solid answer came back: PBS Kids programming. The themes from Curious George, Peg + Cat, Sid the Science Kid and Super Y! had Sam and Isaac both engaged and dancing in their seats. Costumed characters and a local dance troupe accompanied several performances but the PBS selections made my kids' day.
We'll come back for "Knights and Princesses" on Feb. 8. Bringing the arts to kids in a way that stimulates more than just their sense of hearing or sight makes for a great initiative that I'm happy to support, especially when it takes into account that families need the flexibility to get up and move. Babies will cry, kids will sing loudly and off-key and that's fine, better even than keeping the arts experience adults-only. I appreciate that shifted focus because it allows my children to appreciate all that our community has to offer.
Find more family fun in our current Weekend Picks! It just came out yesterday, with 10 events happening this weekend and five for next week. Subscribe here! Weather permitting, we'll be at the City of Edmond's Parks and Recreation Department's Pumpkin Palooza tomorrow. Check out our Fall Fun Guides for other local events this season.