On Saturday 7 March we attended a concert at the CBSO centre, the hone of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It was one of their Notelets series of concerts that are mini-concerts aimed at toddlers and small children. I went with my 2 children aged 5, and this concert featured percussionists from the orchestra, hence it being titled Crash, Bag, Wallop!
In short, it was superb and we will be booking to go to another one of these concerts.
On arriving at the CBSO Centre, there were craft activities in what I think is usually the cafe/bar area. On this occasion, the activity was making tambourines out of paper plates, bells and bottle tops. There were stickers and pens to decorate the tambourines as well. My 5 year old was much more interested in actually making the tambourine, but my 2 year old liked shaking her tambourine- the 5 year old mostly told us his was a parachute and he kept trying to use it as a parachute!
A musician from the CBSO, a tuba player, was also out in the foyer before the concert and he was sat on the floor with some percussion instruments on hand for children to explore. There were several children there already playing with the instruments, and the tuba player was playing songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and encouraging the children to explore the percussion instruments available. Playing boomwhackers with some of the children as well.
The concert lasted for about an hour. It had an Inspector Cluedo theme to it and was a very interactive concert. The musicians dressed up and told a story through the concert of a missing shaker, we had to find and solve clues to work out which of the Cluedo characters had hidden the shaker. To help find the clues, the children were asked to use their tambourines they had made to help find the clues.
The percussionists played some lovely music, proper pieces of music that were not at all dumbed down, though maybe shortened a little. The piece I liked best was Philip Glass’ Mad Rush. We even played it at home while having dinner that night. The children’s favourite part of the concert, however, was where different children’s TV theme tunes were played and they had to guess what programmes they came from. They talked about that part of the concert the following day.
My 2 year old did start to ask to go home after about 40 minutes. We had some snacks with her, so that helped to keep her in the concert hall, but also there were more opportunities for the children to get up and dance or march around the room in the second half of the concert, and this really helped to keep her attention and stop her getting bored. My boy loved the dancing too!
At the end of the concert some percussion instruments were brought out in the concert hall and the children could go up and try them out. They were similar, largely, to the instruments in the foyer, but my daughter who had been hesitant to try anything out in the foyer was much more keen to play with the instruments at the end of the concert.
What I liked most about this concert was:-
- It was a proper concert with pieces of music that would feature in any adult concert, perhaps with the exception of the TV theme tunes!
- Most of the opportunities to get up and move were in the second half of the concert- when the children were starting to get restless.
- There was nothing else to pay for once we got there. The craft activities were free to do; there was a handout flyer that gave information about the music performed so no programmes to buy; there was no merchandise available.
We did not take a buggy with us, I did see some parked in the foyer, but do not know if there was a buggy park. I suspect there was somewhere as I did not see any in the concert hall. We did not use any baby change facilities as we weren’t there long enough so can’t tell you anything about that. I also didn’t see anywhere to buy a drink while we were there as the cafe/bar area (I think as I have not been to the CBSO Centre before) was being used for the craft activities.
All in all, this was a lovely concert to take the children to, and there was more than enough there to keep both children interested in the concert. A really nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and as I said we will almost certainly be booking another one of these concerts again.