Concerts and Events

Academy Tots from the Royal Academy of Music

On Friday my daughter and I attended a music class from the Royal Academy of Music: Academy Tots.

It is a music class aimed at 2-4 year olds which takes place every other week at 10.20am on a Friday morning. The class is run by students at the Royal Academy of Music and is part of a course those students are on to give them experience of running sessions like this. It was, therefore, free of charge, though places had to be booked in advance and participants are encouraged on the website to make a financial donation.

This is, I feel, a benefit of the pandemic. Before this happened there is no way that I could have taken my children to a class at the Royal Academy of Music because of where we live. Now for us that wouldn’t be too much of an issue as we live in Birmingham with Symphony Hall, the Town Hall, the CBSO Centre and many other wonderful venues only 15 minutes drive away, but if you live in an area without access to so many arts venues then being able to access virtual classes is fantastic.

On to the class itself:

We were admitted into the room after the class had begun and were greeted by one of the students waving hello (a nice touch which made my very excited little girl smile), before our screen showing two musicians performing an improvisation on French Horn and percussion. My daughter listened intently for a while. I did feel that this improvisation was a little long as it was for nearly 10 minutes at the start of the session. Children this age have very short attention spans, and are built to move as much as possible (I often comment to my family that my daughter especially is only still while she is asleep – and even that is not guaranteed), so a 10 minute listening experience is quite a difficult task for them. The hello song followed this improvisation.

The rest of the session took the form of a mix of children’s songs such as a nice peekaboo song set to the tune of What shall we do with a drunken sailor, a sleepy bunnies song Hop Little Bunnies Hop, Hop, Hop; hymns like Morning Has Broken – my daughter tried to copy the actions of the musicians she could see on screen which was very cute; and some further listening exercises for the children including getting them to take part in a unicorn ride to the Mozart Horn Concerto in E flat Major, to me this piece is always associated with Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox as it was used as the song for the bad guys in the book:

Boggs and Beyoncé and Bean

One fat, one short, one lean

These horrible crooks so different in looks

Were equally horrid and mean

We had a Roald Dahl story CD that was played in the car that had this song on, and that chorus pops into my head every time I hear the Horn Concerto!

The theme of the session was animals and before the class we were asked to bring our favourite stuffed animal, and the theming was evident in the music chosen and activities such as the unicorn ride. My daughter chose to bring 3 animals to the session (I must work on her working within a brief!), 2 that she insisted on referring to as Winnie the Pooh despite clearly being a general bear and a panda, and a unicorn. I loved the fact that each of the musicians had their own animal stuffed toy that they also introduced. The session leaders made some lovely attempts to get the children involved in the class with getting them to jump up and down, ride their unicorns and act like sleepy bunnies. They asked children lots of questions and were very engaging. Sadly there weren’t many children attending the session and of the children who were there two were under the suggested age range for the class. For our part, my daughter stopped wanting to join in at all after the sleepy bunnies task because she took it a bit too literally and decided she was going to remain a sleepy bunny for the rest of the session, and that was that!

The only criticism I would make of this class was that for children of this age I think it was a little long. The classes I taught were all 30 minutes long, and attending other classes as a parent with my children, the ones that were around 30 minutes were the best length. Any that lasted longer needed a break for just general play in the middle of them, just to match the children’s ability to concentrate, do one thing, and stay relatively still.

In future sessions it would be lovely to be advised to have a musical instrument – a shaker, a set of bells, or a saucepan with a spoon, to play along with some of the music.

I would recommend these sessions if you have a 2-4 year old at home with you on a Friday, it was a lovely thing to do to start the weekend off.

You can book a free ticket for this by following the link below:

Academy Tots, Royal Academy of Music

Concerts and Events

Performing Arts and the Pandemic

Yesterday 400 freelance musicians gathered in Parliament Square in London, with more freelance musicians in Birmingham Centenary Square, to bring attention to the situation they are in at the moment. The ensemble played and then fell silent to symbolise the effect of the pandemic shutting hospitality venues in March, effectively silencing these musicians and preventing them from earning the majority of their income. This is the case for all of the arts as theatres, concert halls, gig venues, comedy venues, museums and art galleries have all been closed. Many, many freelance musicians have not qualified for any of the pandemic financial support schemes so have simply lost their incomes. The financial support packages that have been announced for the arts were aimed at arts venues rather than the individuals who earn their livelihoods performing in them.

The pandemic has had an enormous effect on so many lives, but in this post I want to talk about the performing arts industry, and especially music (although pretty much everything I say here could be said about any of the performing arts) because this is a blog about music and getting children into music. Live performance is such an exciting thing to be a part of. The anticipation of going to a concert, or play or gig is almost as good as the event itself. From when you get hold of the ticket, to counting down the days to the date of the show, to sitting in the auditorium waiting for the show to begin. As a child going to my first shows – ballets, plays, concerts – I remember how exciting it was when I heard the orchestra tune up, saw the lights above the audience dim and heard the children around me exclaim knowing the show was about to begin. As an adult going to see a show, I will get dressed up, perhaps go for dinner before the show; go for drinks afterwards to talk about the show I have just seen. It is a whole event, a whole evening.

The audience is as much part of the show as the performers. They feed off each other. The atmosphere is part of the event. Knowing that you are in the same building as the people performing for you can be spellbinding, mesmerising. You can actually feel how the rest of the audience is reacting to the show, you experience it together, and it can be immensely powerful, It can make you fall in love with theatre, with music, with storytelling. I don’t know about you, and this is something I am trying to change, but when watching TV at home I often end up looking at social media on my phone. I don’t concentrate as much on the show in front of me and so am not as invested in it.

As a Front of House Manager I have been present for many, many different shows. From the glitz and glamour of televised award shows, to world class orchestral concerts, to community shows, to school end of year concerts. I have seen people from all walks of life coming to these shows. I have seen people fall in love with theatre, both performers and audience members. I have seen proud parents watch their children perform for them. I have seen children stand on stage and realise they can hold the attention of all the people watching them, that people will listen to them.

I know everyone will say this about their industry, about the thing they are passionate about, but performing arts are important. Not just for people who perform, but also for people who attend them. Audiences get to see an event. It is an escape from reality. Performing arts can entertain people, educate people, can tell people’s stories, can show you what life is like for people who are just like you, or who are from completely different backgrounds to you without lecturing people.

We have heard the phrase “world beating” quite a lot in recent months, but our performing arts industry is actually world beating. Our orchestras are in demand all over the world, our actors appear on TV screens and cinema screens and stages all over the world. Our pop music industry is incredibly successful. Tourists come to this country to see the shows our performers put on. We are the country that produced Shakespeare.

There has been a lot of attention in the last couple of days on something Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in response to the musicians’ protests in London and Birmingham yesterday. The message that performers took from the interview he gave was that musicians, comedians, actors, dancers needed to adapt and retrain. I know that he has clarified that his comments were about employment in general and that he wasn’t saying that performers needed to ‘get a proper job’ (many of us who have worked in the performing arts have been told exactly this by people in other sectors, in my case my father told me on several occasions I should get a proper job because I earned very little money).

The comments he made were in response to a question about the musicians’ protests, however. He was asked what he had to say to professional musicians. Musicians who, through no fault of their own (like everyone else who has lost their job as a result of the pandemic), cannot do the bulk of their work. The venues have shut. Mass gatherings are not allowed. And it is simply not economically viable to stage shows in a theatre or concert hall with social distancing measures in place. Performing arts need bums on seats. They need full audiences.

Yes, many arts activities can take place online, but it is not the same. I mentioned above that the audience and performers feed off each other. It is easier to concentrate and lose yourself in the show when you are attending live performance. I have taken my two children to see some shows, as readers of this blog will know, and they have sat and watched and thoroughly enjoyed them. I have tried to get them to watch online concerts, and they get distracted by going off to look at toys, running around the room and generally not concentrating, because we are watching at home and not in a special space, having built up to going to see a show. They have not seen the concert as a special event. It’s just like watching the TV that they can do any time.

This is what Rishi Sunak said in his interview

ITV Interviewer: “If you are a professional musician, what is your message right now? If they can’t earn enough money to live, is your message to them, you’re going to have to get another job?”

RS: “I think my simple message to everyone is we’re trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible.”

ITV Interviewer: “But they don’t think you are. In that sector, they just don’t think you are”

RS: “It’s a very sad time, 3 quarters of a million people have already lost their jobs. We know that and that is likely to increase and many more people will. I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis. That’s why we have put a lot of our extra resource into trying to create new opportunities for people. So our Kickstart scheme, for example, for young people who are most at risk of becoming unemployed all the way up to the age of 24 are going to benefit from a fully funded job placement of high quality.”

ITV Interviewer: “That’s a different job, isn’t it? That is you saying go and get another job.”

RS: “That is a fresh and new opportunity for people, that is exactly what we should be doing”

ITV Interviewer: “But we are a country that have created so many fabulous musicians and artists and actors, and you’re effectively saying, Look I know it’s hard, but maybe go and get another job.”

RS: “You’re not being quite right that there is no work available for everybody at all. Funnily enough, as in all walks of life, everyone’s having to adapt I’m getting emails and seeing how theatre companies are adapting and putting on different kinds of performances. It is possible to do theatrical performances online as well and for people to engage with them that way and for new business models to emerge. Plenty of music lessons are happening online, certainly in my household and elsewhere. So, yes, can things happen in exactly the way they did, no, but everyone is having to find ways to adapt.”

Now I do not think that this will be the end of performing arts. There will always be musicians, and actors, dancers, artists and comedians. As a species we love performing, we love story telling, we need to share our experiences. There will be a time when we can go to see live performance again without worrying about social distancing.

But at what cost, and how many amazing performers will have left the profession because they have ‘had to adapt’? How many venues will they have to perform in? Where are all of the alternative jobs for performers to retrain for? How many people are chasing any job that currently exists?

The arts is a massive contributor to the GDP of this country. The arts and culture industry contributes £10.8 billion per year to the UK economy, and that is before you factor in the money that people spend in restaurants and bars before and after the shows they see; the money they spend in transport costs to get there, or hotel accommodation for a special concert; the money tourists who come over to go to see a show at, say, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and then spend the rest of their holiday at other tourism destinations; the money people spend to buy an outfit to wear for a special occasion.

The only reason that this whole industry is struggling is because of the pandemic. Yes, social distancing has to take place, I am not arguing that any restrictions should be lifted at all. I am not arguing that performing artists are any more important than anyone else whose employment has been affected by the pandemic. But once this is all over, and it will be one day even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, we will want to go back to see concerts, plays, comedians, gigs. We will want to watch good new TV (actors on TV generally train by acting on stage), or go to the cinema again. We will want to hear new music on the radio. If musicians and other artists have no financial support and have to adapt by probably finding other work, then I worry about what we as a country will have lost, how long we will have to wait before we can have our actually world beating, world class entertainments industry back?

Arts organisations are seen as elitist, only for rich people. Well, they certainly will only be for rich people if tickets to see a performance are more expensive to combat the fact that half the auditorium is empty. It will only be for the rich if teachers have to increase their prices for lessons because they have fewer pupils/no other work and have to ‘adapt’ the way they work and how they earn money to what work is available. The strides arts organisations have made in opening up their work to a wider audience, subsidising ticket prices etc, this may all fall by the wayside, that work may disappear.

It is all such a shame.

Concerts and Events

Live Music!!

I have been writing this blog for a little while now, and I must admit that by now I had expected to have written quite a few reviews of live music events that we had gone to as a family. However, 2020 had different plans, and I can count on one hand the number of times that we have been out of the house somewhere other than my mother’s house or the supermarket!

We have been very lucky, however, to get to see two live music events in recent weeks. We are members of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and they have live music on a Sunday from their band stand. We had not been expecting it, but were delighted when we arrived there one Sunday to find a band playing. My children had an absolute ball dancing around in front of the band stand, despite the rain. And for the whole of the following week my son told everyone we saw (admittedly that wasn’t many people, and mostly via a screen) that we had seen live music.

We had a bigger treat last Thursday when two professional musicians, cellist Jackie Tyler and violin player Julia Aberg played a concert on our road – even better for us was that it was pretty much right outside our door!

Jackie and Julia played pieces such as Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens and an Argentinian Tango. My little girl, when she wasn’t trying to make a bid for freedom up the road, thoroughly enjoyed dancing along in our front garden. Jackie and Julia also played the theme tunes to Harry Potter and In the Night Garden. There were quite a few families with young children there, and an amusing “oooh” went around as In the Night Garden began – Jackie and Julia knew their audience!

The weather, that had been threatening thunderstorms, held out for us, and we had a visit from the local ice cream van, who I am sure initially thought it was their lucky day, turning up to a street with loads of people already outside waiting for them, until they realised we were there for something else. Thankfully they turned up in between pieces.

It was really lovely seeing so many people from our local area turning up and watching the concert. In a time when arts venues and artists of all disciplines are struggling so much it is so good to see that the appetite for live performance has not diminished. And on a personal note, it was so good to see and hear live performance. As brilliant as it is to have online concerts and performances available (and I am so grateful that this has happened, if it had to happen at all, at a time when technology makes it possible to have amazing entertainment at the touch of a button in your own home) there is no substitute for live performance. Music sounds and feels different when you experience it happening in front of you, and when you experience it with other people. It is a shared experience that I have very much missed in these last few months.

Jackie and Julia normally perform with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a world class orchestra right on our door step. We have been to the CBSO’s brilliant Notelets series of concerts, which are aimed at children, and you can read my review of the concert here. The CBSO have, of course, been forced to suspend their concert performances during the pandemic. Hopefully it will not be too much longer until it is possible for musicians to perform together again.

Concerts and Events

Concert Review: B’Opera Relaxed Concert, Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Concert: B’Opera Relaxed Concert Teddy Bear’s Picnic

When: Saturday 27 June 2020 10:30

Where: via Crowdcast

Our experience: a lovely, interactive concert for pre-school children introducing classical music and opera to our little people.

For 2020 I had booked us up to see quite a few concerts. We went to see Peppa Pig: My First Concert, read my review of this show here, and a fabulous concert from the Notelets series at the CBSO centre in March, and you can read about it here. It feels like that was about 6 million years ago now! We had several other concerts booked as well, and were looking forward to a year of regular live entertainment. Of course we now do not anticipate being able to go to see any of those concerts this year, very sadly. So I was delighted to see that the Birmingham based organisation B’Opera were doing one of their relaxed concerts online last week. It was on the theme of a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

I have taken my daughter to one of B’Opera’s live relaxed concerts before at St George’s Church in Edgbaston, just over a year ago and was very impressed with the concert. We had been to a concert run by a different organisation and that had been billed as a concert where small children were absolutely welcome, in fact the concert was for the children and their grown ups, but I had not been impressed with this other organisation’s concert. It felt like it was a concert for the parents where their small children were tolerated rather than being aimed at the children. B’Opera’s relaxed concert was entirely different. It was a concert that was genuinely for the children who attended. It was for adults to bring their small children along to introduce them to music, not just nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes were included in the performance, as something familiar for the children, but there were many other songs in the concert as well. I left the concert feeling that this was an organisation that really understood how to put on a concert for small children and babies, and no wonder because they held music classes for babies and small children at Birmingham Hippodrome every week (owing to the coronavirus pandemic these classes are online at the moment).

Booking tickets and accessing the concert

I was really looking forward to watching this concert with my children. The relaxed concert on Saturday morning took place at 10.30 and lasted for about an hour. It cost £7.50 for a ticket and was broadcast on the service Crowdcast. There is an iOA app for Apple users, a website if watching on a laptop, and probably also an Android app. It was very easy to access crowdcast once tickets had been purchased, although I had not downloaded the app until just before the start of the concert, so we ended up watching the concert on my iPad via the website. I think that the experience would have been better if I had managed to get the app downloaded in advance of the concert so that we could have used that for the concert.

The live concerts are very interactive and online Zoe Challenor and Jacqueline White, who are professional musicians and who run B’Opera, added in as many interactive elements as they could. There was a chat function on the crowdcast app, and Zoe and Jacqueline answered as many comments as they could onscreen. One of the B’Opera team, Aliyah was also answering comments on the onscreen chat as they happened, but we could not see them – technical limitations of, well, me I’m afraid as I could not work out how to get the chat box up on the website without messing around and I didn’t want to do that while the concert was ongoing!

Interactive concert

There were several games played during the concert, like Peekaboo with scarves that my children quite enjoyed, and a game of fruit snap. At the end of the concert I asked the children what they had enjoyed most about it and my 3 year old said “me like fruit game”! There were also some lovely touches, like cakes being passed and water glasses filled up between Zoe and Jacqueline.

Programme

The programme was picnic and summer themed. There were a mix of live performances and pre-recorded songs, the pre-records being performances by the pianist Phil Ypres-Smith who would usually be performing at the relaxed concerts, and a duet between Jacqueline and Zoe. The concert started with Debussy’s song about mandolin players, Mandoline, and included songs like Fleurs by Poulenc (Flowers), the Flower Duet from the opera Lakme by Delibes, and Where the Bee Sucks, There Lurk I by Thomas Arne. All songs about things you would see or experience if you were on a picnic. There were two fun songs by composer Jenny Gould performed towards the end of the concert as well including My Face is Made of Funnions. The concert ended with a rendition of, of course, Teddy Bear’s picnic and requests for favourite nursery rhymes were taken and performed.

Experience of watching concert online

What I really like about B’Opera’s concerts is that they strike a really good balance between children’s songs and traditional, familiar nursery rhymes and other classical music, proper arias from opera that are not at all dumbed down. Zoe and Jacqueline give the children attending their concerts the chance to listen to, to experience all sorts of music, more complex, “difficult”, less familiar music for them is included, and so children have the opportunity to become familiar with lots of different music.

It is far easier to keep children’s attention in person, and my two did not concentrate very well at all for this online concert – they were at home, my son could feel the pull of his lego upstairs, my daughter just wanted to play babies, and so they did not take in as much of the concert as I think they would have done if we had attended in person. I think that the concert, at one hour, was maybe a little too long. That may be because my two are at school and nursery so we don’t attend the weekly First Songs classes that B’Opera are offering at the moment, or it may just be my children, especially my 3 year old who absolutely cannot stay still for even 2 minutes at a time! For us I think the concert could have been shorter. However, this is not in any way a reflection of B’Opera, it is the circumstances we are in, that we cannot attend concerts in person at the moment. On the other hand, with the cost of the concert, as just one ticket is purchased for an online concert rather than paying for 4 people to attend, then it is easier and more affordable to take a chance on an online concert. If the children don’t enjoy it, or are not in the right mood to watch it on that particular day, then you have not spent as much money as you would buying separate tickets for the whole family. B’Opera also leave the concert available on crowdcast for a week at no additional cost, so you can watch it at any time or as many times as you like during that week. This is brilliant for people with small children as they love to watch things over and over again, and as mentioned above sometimes they are just not in the mood right then and there to watch a concert just because Mummy says it is time!

All in all, this was a really good concert, a lovely thing to do on a Saturday morning, and felt like a step towards normality, that we could go to a concert even though we were still at home. The arts in general, and organisations that are reliant on singing in particular, are really struggling at the moment with social distancing requirements, so I would urge you if you are at all tempted to try something like this out to do it and support these organisations like B’Opera so they are available still for live concerts when all of this is over and we can gather to enjoy music together.

Concerts and Events

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Notelets series concert review: Crash Bang Wallop!

Crash, Bang, Wallop!

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.

Concerts and Events

Peppa Pig: My First Concert review

I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old, so we are VERY familiar with Peppa Pig. Both children have watched and loved the show, and we have even been to Peppa Pig Land twice so far- my daughter really wants to go again for her birthday later this year so we may well go for a third time, god help us!

So when I saw Peppa Pig: My First Concert was coming to Birmingham Town Hall I knew we had to get tickets!

Stage, set and ready for the concert

We arrived at the Town Hall with a good 20 minutes to spare. It was easy to find our way around the Town Hall, although I must admit that I have been to concerts there before, and I did work front of house in venues for years so am very used to finding my way around a concert hall. We didn’t use it, but I heard the front of house staff telling customers that there was a buggy park on the ground floor. There was a toilet with baby change facilities near the door we used (Door B of the Hall). I was impressed with the number of booster seats there were available that you could just help yourself to once inside the Hall without having to wait for staff to bring it to you. And this may seem like an inconsequential detail, but there were also several bins that I could see inside the Hall. I always find that the key to keeping my little ones in a confined space and without them going bananas is snacks, snacks and more snacks- it was great that the Town Hall were prepared for that!

My girl sat on her booster seat

Before the concert started some of the musicians came out into the audience into the Stalls area and did their “warm up” playing the theme tune wandering around. I thought that was a lovely touch.

Violinist wandering around the Stalls playing before the start of the concert

The concert was lovely. There was a good mix of songs from the show and other orchestral music. It did feel like a proper introduction to music and to attending a concert for very young children. We started saying hello to Peppa, George, Mummy and Daddy Pig, which my two loved-such an exciting start to the concert, especially for my 2 year old. Then we were introduced to the musicians and the instruments they were playing.

Introducing the wind instruments
All the musicians have taken their place, with the French Horn as the last musician to be introduced.

I loved that they brought out the words to the Bing Bong song for us to sing along to-brilliant!

I asked my children later on in the day what their favourite part of the show was and my son said he liked Peppa and George’s great big crash (“In the Hall if the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg). My daughter liked the ballet dancing (“Russian Dance” from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky) as they got to do a bit of dancing, and the bit with the thunderstorms (Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, the “Pastoral”). There was a rather lovely piece at the end, with some beautiful light effects and a perhaps surprisingly familiar piece of music by Mozart.

It was a lovely concert, perhaps a little on the long side for my 2 year old, who had had enough around 40 minutes into the show. Thankfully I had brought enough snacks along to keep her relatively still, as she enjoyed the rest of the music, but she would have been very restless without them. My son was fine with the length of the concert and I think my daughter would have been if she had been 6 months to a year older. I do think that there was the right balance of show songs and orchestral music, and a good amount of interaction. Of course with a concert like this you are confined to the area around your seat, so it’s harder to let the children dance around as much as they want to at this age.

We did, of course, buy some merchandise-2 light windmills with Peppa and George on (one of each) for £10 each and an activity book at £4. The children loved the windmills , they were playing with them a lot yesterday afternoon and today as well, and we have had a look at the activity book which has some colouring, some quizzes about the concert, some images etc. My only gripe about the activity pack is that I would have liked it to have doubled as a programme and given at least a list of the pieces played in the concert, perhaps given a little more information about them. But that is a niggle about an otherwise lovely concert and a good introduction to orchestral music and concerts.