*This article was first published in Summer of 2012 Des Moines Music Coalition’s blog and republished this Summer in their updated blog.
When I became a Mom, I knew I wanted to give my child a love of music. As a child of the Eighties, I was introduced to The Steve Miller Band, CCR, Pat Benatar, Huey Lewis and the News, and yes, even The Beach Boys. As a child, some of my fondest surround around singing in the car with my parents, performing “Heartbreaker” for my Grandmother, and dancing to “Rock around the Clock” with my Aunt. Unlike many of my peers, I actually enjoyed the music my parents listened to, even if I didn’t always understand the words (I sang Huey Lewis’ “I want a new drug” as “I want a new truck.”) It seems natural that I would want to pass along an enjoyment of music to my child.
When my daughter was born over four years ago, I knew things would be tough, I knew I would suffer sleepless nights, but did I know that this same child would bring me to love music even more? No way. While pregnant I listened to Norah Jones, repeatedly. It was my go-to de-stress music. Kiddo ended up spending a few unexpected weeks in intensive care after her birth. Initially we had to keep a quiet stimulus free room. Eventually, we were allowed to provide stimulus in her room and decided to play Norah Jones. The moment Jones’ song Sunrise started to play, kiddo turned her head towards the music. I cannot begin to express what an extreme act of comfort that was to me, during this period of distress.
Around three months of age, I learned that the Des Moines Metro Opera was having a free family friendly performance of Don Pasquale at the State Historical Museum. Unsure if we should take a baby to an opera performance, we decided to go for it, figuring we could sneak out if she became fussy. To our surprise, the baby who, despite our best efforts, wouldn’t stop crying and screaming at home, was completely quiet and filled with wide-eyed wonder during ninety-percent of that performance. The remaining ten percent was spent napping. We finally found something that worked to calm our child down. It was a great day.
Watching Don Pasquale was a turning point in our parenting. If there was a free concert, of any genre, that seemed remotely child friendly, we went. Then we took kiddo to her first “official” concert, the inaugural 80/35, wearing a pair of shotgun earmuffs to protect her little eardrums.
Since our daughter’s first concert, she has been to many more, probably more concerts than I had been to by the time I had graduated college. With this in mind, I’d like to share some advice in taking kids to concerts:
- Don’t be afraid to take your child to a concert. Ok, you can be a little afraid, but if your kid likes action and excitement, more than likely your child will love the adventure.
- Bring ear protection. They may not like it, but they will not like having their ears hurt more.
- Bring a little toy or sucker along with you to help fight any fussy times.
- Have a good time. Children sense when parents are stressed. If the thought of bringing your child to a ticketed event makes you nervous, take them to smaller free events and work your way on up.