Live performance is an immersive shared experience that can be big and breathtaking or intimate, understated and compelling. It's unlike anything that a tiny screen can provide.
Live performance provides a communal setting and a unique and shared experience. From the buzz of anticipation before the lights go down and the curtain goes up, to the joy in applauding a performance well delivered, we can enjoy live performance together.
Storytelling is what sets up apart as a species. We have been doing it for tens of thousands of years. And the oral or ‘live’ storytelling tradition is the oldest form of all.
We instinctively read and tell bedtime stories to our children. But we don’t necessarily think about bringing them to a live performance when they are young - even though it is a really good time to start. Because not only will it be the beginning of a life-time appreciation, but it may well prove to be the ideal antidote to the limitations of the tiny screen.
Studies have found that exposure to live theatre improves literary comprehension among students and it has also been shown to increase students’ empathy and tolerance toward others.* And that is definitely something we want to foster.
Here are five tips to make your child’s first live performance experiences be the beginning of a healthy and life-long relationship with the performing arts:
- Research and preparation. Start with a concert or performance that is specifically intended for children – especially for the little tots. Something short and sweet and fun.
- Share the story of the show. Give them the background story on the play, musical or performer and listen to the music in advance. (And if you’re thinking about opera for school age kids, maybe choose ‘The Magic Flute’ over ‘Don Giovanni’ for a first-time opera experience).
- Make it a fun and adventurous family outing. Be prepared for the unexpected and roll with it.
- Be open to questions – about the concert, the play, the venue, or why everyone is dressed up. And a little pre-show exuberance is fine but do teach them the responsibility of being respectful audience members.
- Remember to feed them before you go. (And try not to keep them up too much past bed time)…
* Read the entire article at Science Daily.