By Huang Lijie
My child cannot sit still. He only likes things that play on screens. She cannot appreciate artsy stuff. These are reasons, for some parents, to not bring their children to arts performances.
But they might be missing out on something more: opportunities to connect meaningfully with their children. These fears about how children might take to arts performances could also be unfounded. Many arts programmes today are carefully designed to cater to young audiences.
For example, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) keeps its Concerts for Children series to under an hour, and in an interactive format, which may feature a narrator. It also incorporates other mediums such as videos, slideshows, and drama in the performance.
For parents who remain anxious about bringing their children to arts performances, we spoke with SSO’s content lead, Mr Chia Han-Leon, who has two daughters, aged eight and 16, for tips on how parents can be ace arts escorts. Here’s our top five:
1. Learn from your child: be open-minded
A common misconception parents have, says Mr Chia, is that their children might find classical music difficult to appreciate. “In many cases, we find that kids have no preconceptions about what is ‘good’ music, classical or otherwise.” Time to set aside your bias.
2. Prepare for the unexpected
If your child might fidget or make noise, consider buying tickets close to the aisle and at the back of the hall. At the SSO’s Concerts for Children, talking without disturbing others is acceptable, but parents can also bring a notebook and pen, and write rather than speak.
If your child is disruptive to the audience, take him out of the hall, but don’t be disappointed. Perhaps your child is not ready yet; try again, and next time, invite his best friend along.
3. Be your child’s hero
Children sometimes ask questions beyond the concert, about the things they see at the venue or in the concert hall, says Mr Chia. Do a little homework and be prepared with simple answers, or ask the staff on site.
Don’t forget to have fun. If you are enjoying yourself, your child will likely too. As Mr Chia advises: “Come and enjoy the concert, and avoid bearing any responsibilities about what your children should gain or learn from it. Let us bear that instead.”
5. Take home memories
If you are visiting performance venues with photogenic spots, such as the Victoria Concert Hall, where the SSO performs, snap pictures to remember the family moment. At the Hall, Mr Chia suggests a wefie inside, before the performance starts, or outside on the lawn.
An earlier version of this article was published on 6 September 2018.