But since I am here to talk about classical music and kids, it’s worth saying up front: The music requires the communal silence of an attentive audience. And, unfortunately, that silence wants to be so total that a parent’s favorite tools — snacks and coloring books — won’t cut it.
I once took my then 7-year-old daughter to a matinee of religious choral music — contemporary music inspired by the wounds of Christ. O.K., I couldn’t find a babysitter, and I was reviewing! She sat there dutifully clutching her coloring book, but the scratch-scratch of her pens was too loud. And it was dark. She ended up sitting in the lobby of the Kaufman Center for the rest of the concert.
SOLOSKI I’ve had the occasional misfire, too. The first time I took my daughter to the Big Apple Circus, she became so fixated on the possibility of a pony ride that nothing — not tightrope walking, not clowns, not my frantic shushing — could distract her.
McDERMON Like a lot of new parents, I tried too hard, too early, with my first kid. He loved long walks in the stroller, so I thought, why not walk him through the Brooklyn Museum? We made it about five minutes into a Mickalene Thomas show before he started fussing, then whining, then full-out wailing as I rushed out.
What’s Right for Your Child?
SOLOSKI I take my kids to the theater pretty often, maybe every month or two, sometimes when I’m working and sometimes for what I will tentatively call fun. I try to find things I think all of us will like, but I don’t always guess right. And I don’t mind indulging them, cost permitting.
McDERMON My aim is twofold. I want them to be regulars in the city’s great cultural institutions, so they’ll feel at home, not intimidated. And then there are the sort of cultural totems that I feel obliged to share with them, like that Picasso show, or Giacometti at the Guggenheim, where a part of me is hoping to implant a kind of “aha” moment that they might be able to recall years from now.