Monday, June 01, 2015

There are pirates at Fiddlesticks!

Fiddlesticks Pittsburgh Symphony Summer Escape Concert

Today's Fiddlestick's concert theme was summer vacations, and as we had recently taken one we were all prepped for this concert. So we very much enjoyed having the thread and mini-story of finding a vacation story for Fiddlesticks.  And as my son is getting older, he appreciates more aspects of this. 

Now that my son is old enough to be learning to play piano himself, we are more like the intended audience of the Fiddlesticks concerts.  So what do we want to see.

1.  The experience of hearing a symphony live, in concert, in a venue with the right proportions, which sounds richer and with more layers than anything that can be played on home speakers.
2.  A sense that music can exist in a context and communicates something.
3.  An experience in a place where responding to music is acceptable.

Fiddlesticks Pittsburgh Symphony Summer Escape Concert
Making a pirate ship

Certainly, the discovery time activities are meant to put the kids at ease. We watched and listened to the contra bassoon and heard a talk and got an autograph from an oboist.  We sang with Katy Williams to Bippity-Boppity-Boo and the Fiddlesticks song. We made a pirate ship and sailed it in the outside fountain. All of this was to make the kids comfortable.

Fiddlesticks Pittsburgh Symphony Summer Escape Concert
Sailing in the courtyard fountain

The activities in large part are making what is obviously adult space (Heinz Hall) into a place where kids have the freedom to explore, play, and interact with things musical, or even peripherally related to music. So making a pirate ship and sailing it in the fountain is related to a sing-a-long at the piano and watching and listening to symphony musicians playing in the lobby. And by the time they get to the hall, the kids and adults are comfortable with the setting.

In the concert itself, the sense is that music is meant to be responded to. Whether it is Katy, Fawzi, or Fiddlesticks running around on-stage or the symphony playing a piece, unlike a normal PSO concert, there is no need to try to stop a child (or adult for that matter) to express amusement, recognition, joy, or empathy in the moment. When an audience member reacts, we can acknowledge the reaction instead of trying to contain it. and it makes for a different experience (I noted that there were a number of adults in the audience without any obviously attached children, so this may go beyond kids.)

My son enjoyed the experience. I spent the concert watching his expressions change as the pieces developed and listening to his observations. Then the story he told my wife about the concert when we got back. We enjoy having music part of our lives, and want our kids to share the wonder and delight in listening and creating music themselves as they grow up,  And Fiddlesticks is a part of that.

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