Being a parent has proved particularly challenging of late. Much of this has to do with the fact that we're weaning our child off the bottle, and it’s been pretty much a cold turkey thing, save for the one we give her right before bedtime. But Penelope’s headstrong nature—which revealed itself in her first-ever meltdown the same week she officially turned 1—kicked into overdrive this past week, as has her tendency to scream bloody murder and literally fall onto the floor in fits of rage when she doesn’t get her way.
So it was with both hope and trepidation that we brought her to the 10:30 am Tiny Tots Concert this past Saturday at Benaroya, where we had a playdate with her bud Fritz (and his parents). This included a pre-show reception in the grand lobby, where everyone was invited to enjoy activities (crafts, instrument introductions, and the like) prior to the show, but there were so many people and children there already enjoying said activities that we spent the whole time chasing her around as she tried to touch/grab/get into every possible thing already in use and chirping 'Hi!' all along the way (it's one of her few words), until Fritz and Co. arrived and we all headed into the 500-seat Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall.
I found out later that the 10:30 concert is the most popular (and packed) because it’s convenient for nap time, which was definitely my reason behind choosing it, and the room certainly filled up, the sounds of young voices (laughing, crying, shouting, screaming, burbling, and all manner of other noises that children 5 and younger make) filled the air.
Then the lights dimmed slightly to indicate the show was starting and out bounded John Turman, a Seattle Symphony horn player who serves as host for the concerts, and I’m pretty sure it was his gold sequined dinner jacket and matching high tops that kept so many eyes in that room glued to him. Also, his seemingly limitless and definitely infectious enthusiasm, which started with instructions on how to sing-along or respond to musical cues, and then the “Hello Song” followed by introductions of the musicians and the instruments that each would be playing—both Mae Lin and Brittany Boulding Breeden on violin, Sayaka Kokubo on viola, and Nathan Chan on cello. Each delivered a little musical number upon their entrance, with Chan performing a riff from the theme of the Harry Potter films and Jaws that were both recognized and appreciated—at least by the adults in the room.
Then, the program began, with Turman jumping and dashing and skipping around the stage, sometimes playing a guitar, pointing out the melodies, and walking the children through how to sing-along to them (for those old enough to take part), while the string players, in quartet chamber formation, performed shortened Mozart pieces that I’m pretty sure most of the kids in the room knew, if not from Baby Einstein, then from various other child-friendly programs that tap (free use) classical compositions, and/or from music-making toys (I have at least three that pipe Mozart): Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as based on W.A. Mozart’s Twelve Variations, and The Marriage of Figaro, Overture (arr. FCM), before launching into the “Goodbye Song,” pretty much a reprise of the "Hello Song," as far as I could tell.
I spent much of the time watching my daughter’s round-eyed reaction to everything, and while I didn't feel like much more of an adult than when I started the day, it was quite nice to sit in a hall with her and her dad, listening to the finespun Mozart melodies, without her getting upset. And even if she had put up a fuss, there would have been plenty of other children around her doing different variations of the same thing.
The program was super short, a mere 30 minutes, but overall, it was a perfectly spent 30 minutes—just long enough to keep her distracted, not so long that she started getting antsy. Plus, Benaroya Hall is so close to Pike Place Market that after the show we wandered over, picked up some fresh flowers and bread, and ate a Bavarian Meats cone (all meat, all of the time) before calling it a day.
The next Tiny Tots concert, The Winds: The Nutcracker, happens December 7-8.