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Being a parent doesn’t mean you’re stuck with bad Barney cover bands for live musical entertainment. Some kiddie rockers are fabulous, but don’t limit yourself to tots-only affairs. Bring your kids to concerts meant for all ages with these tips:

Find Shows:

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The best concerts for families are free (non-paying audiences can’t be too persnickety and you’ll be less tempted to outstay kids’ attention spans), before bedtime and in casual, easily accessible locations. Outside concerts tend to be the family-friendliest of all. Many local cultural institutions including parks, nature centers, libraries, museums and churches host performances (if they don’t, tell them they should). New Yorkers can check out these venues; see if your town has a similar resource. Also ask local musicians if they or their friends ever play in kid-friendly venues.

For shows that start after bedtime or seem too intimidating, find out the time of the sound checks or dress rehearsals and ask if your family can watch these more relaxed, less crowded jam times.

Pre-show Prep:

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Discuss with your kids what you’re going to hear. Learn about the culture or history of the music, look at pictures or videos of musical instruments they might see, and explore concepts like rhythm and harmony.

Explain concert etiquette – sitting still and listening quietly during songs, loud applause after. If your kid is not great at staying put, find out if there’s somewhere in the back he or she can dance around. Some concerts have kids’ areas on the ground in front of the seats by the stage.

What To Bring:

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Take along quiet toys and activates such as stickers, lacing toys or coloring books to keep restless hands occupied. If allowed, have snacks ready, preferably non-crunchy ones that take a long time to eat, like cheerios or fruit leather – chewing mouths can’t make interrupting noises.

Pack a picnic blanket or chairs for outdoor concerts.

Some musicians encourage audiences to play along, so bring some shakers or other instruments for interactive fun.

Be Brave:

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Don’t underestimate your kids’ musical adventurousness or ability to be a good audience member – just stay by a door or in the back with your bag packed and ready to leave in case your kid decides to be the show rather than watch it.

As often happens in parenting, you may be surprised to find your own tastes expanding once your whole family experiences Mongolian throat singing or avant-garde opera. Use these same tips to explore dance, theater, performance art and other cultural adventures in your neighborhood.  Rock on!

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Do you have any tips to for concerts with kids? Share below…

Brittney Jensen Mothner

Kidville Member

Brittney Jensen Mothner

Website

Brittney Jensen Mothner lives in Manhattan with her 3-year-old boy and baby girl. Her eclectic resume includes working as a director, choreographer, writer, performer, arts educator and editor of www.kidonthetown.com. She is having so much fun introducing her family to NYC’s best culture (and bakeries). Originally from Southern California, she attended Stanford University and loves to travel with her kids to visit family and friends in sunnier spots around the world.