On Saturday afternoon, Philip attended his first concert, and he was a ROCK STAR!
Ever since Philip got his latest sinus infection, he has been missing things: a field trip to the grocery store, a pancake breakfast, our weekly trip to the library, the Imagination Library birthday party, the park district’s Spring Fling, walks with the dog, Sunday Supper at his grandparents’ and a week of school.
Before he was out sick, a notice came home in Philip’s backpack announcing a free concert. Our local symphony orchestra would present a kid-friendly performance preceded by children’s activities. The concert was to be held a mere four-minute drive from our house.
I marked our calendar with hesitation. I know that Philip loves music, but I wasn’t sure if he would love going to a concert. I decided that we would definitely show up the hour before to participate in the activities. I would play it by ear, so to speak, and decide at the last minute whether to stay for the performance.
I spent the week willing Philip to get better, wanting him to be healthier for health’s sake, but also wanting him not to miss anything else.
The stars aligned on Saturday. Philip woke up in a good mood and obviously feeling better. He took a nap at midday, eliminating tiredness as an obstacle to attending. We had enough time after his nap for Philip to eat a quick snack, so hunger was taken out of the equation as well.
If the weather had been warmer, we would have walked from our house to the venue on the nearby university campus. As it was, I was able to leave our coats in the car for the short walk from the parking lot. Philip skipped and smiled on the way, but was a bit nervous about entering the building itself.
There were two tables set up in the front lobby with activities, but they were both surrounded by other children. I led Philip down the hallway where college students were demonstrating instruments and letting kids try to play them. Philip was immediately taken by a trumpet. I think he liked its shiny, reflective surface. When the student asked Philip if he wanted to try playing it, he brought the bell to his mouth.
“No,” laughed the student, “that’s the wrong end.”
Philip then pushed the bell to my mouth.
“Do you want Mommy to do it?” I asked.
I turned the instrument around and was pleased to discover I could still produce a sound. Philip liked it, too.
From there, we looked at a trombone, violin and saxophone. By this time, the activity tables had cleared enough for Philip to step up to them. First, he could decorate a “drum” (a plastic cup with a balloon stretched over it) with stickers.
Next, Philip could adorn a tambourine (two paper plates filled with dried pasta and stapled together) with more stickers and markers.
Finally, there was a project in the style of Matisse where Philip pasted shapes onto a yellow square of paper.
At this point, I began to question my idea of arriving promptly at 3:00 pm. We still had fifteen minutes before the concert would start. The building houses the university’s fine arts department, so there were many glass cases filled with sculptures. Philip seemed to enjoy looking at these, so we killed a few minutes walking the hallways.
I was thinking about taking Philip into the art gallery on the opposite side of the building, but he noticed that the doors to the auditorium were open and he led me inside. I grabbed a program and let Philip lead me to the opposite side. I decided that, since we were already inside, it might be best to find seats at the end of an aisle.
Philip sat beside me and looked around. Some of the orchestra members were on stage warming up. I realized that, while this might be novel to Philip, it would not hold his interest for over ten minutes. I also realized that I hadn’t checked the diaper bag before leaving to make sure that I had fidgets tucked inside.
I did find a pen, so I gave Philip this and his tambourine. Drawing on the paper plates kept him occupied until staff began to close the doors. I frantically looked in the bag and found a piper clean bracelet with beads that Philip made at an event last spring. Crisis averted.
Just when I thought we would be okay, I discovered that the concert would not begin until after the recognition of some scholarship winners. By this time, Philip no longer wanted to sit in his seat. I pulled him up on my lap and silently begged them to hurry things along. I considered leaving, but found a sensory chewy in my bag and decided we should at least stay for one selection.
Finally, it was time for the performance. Philip immediately responded to a montage of Disney tunes. As long as the orchestra was playing and he had something in his hands and/or mouth, he was content. He rocked his whole body to the music. He truly seems to listen to music with his whole body, something that I could feel as he sat on my lap.
Philip moved back into his own seat a few times, but stayed on my lap for most of the concert. Unlike some of the young attendees, he didn’t cry, talk or make noise. The remarks in between pieces were brief enough that Philip didn’t become vocally impatient. Overall, he was an excellent audience member for the hour-long concert featuring music from movies as well as Mozart, Copland and Bach.
There was a reception afterwards in the lobby, but Philip headed straight for the exit. I couldn’t complain. Philip may have missed a cookie, but he didn’t miss the concert.