Symphony concert should give kids a charge


POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Encouraging children to practice an instrument is tough. Convincing them that the hard work will pay off is even harder because in today's world we want to monetize skills and knowledge. Some things, like playing an instrument, aren't easy to measure.




Honolulu Symphony


        Features pianist William Wolfram

» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall


» Time: 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday


» Tickets: $19 to $70 (including service fees); 20 percent discount for military and seniors; student/child tickets, $10


» Call: 792-2000 or Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000, or visit www.honolulusymphony.com


We tell kids that music can help to improve their memory, coordination, time management and team skills, or grades. Needless to say, we're usually met with a blank stare and a roll of the eyes, followed by the child's rapid exit from the room.

So, what's a parent to do?

According to my friend Suzanne, you should take your kids to the symphony. Recently, she wrote to me about taking a friend's son to the Seattle Symphony in an effort to stop him from quitting piano lessons.

The suggestion came from a pediatrician. When you're up against the marketing powers of video games and rock groups, you need the “;big guns”; of the orchestra to impress a kid. Combine the concert with music written by young composers and you double your chances.

THIS WEEKEND the Honolulu Symphony presents a concert that will be a home run with the kids. We've got piano fireworks and music written by composers during their teenage years. The program includes Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1, written when he was 18, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 in F minor, which was completed at age 19.

For Suzanne the experience of taking a child to the symphony was refreshing.

“;From the number of seats in the hall (we attempted to count them), to figuring out which seat had the best view, Brad had a new perspective,”; she wrote. “;At age 11 you're surprised by completely different things. For Brad it was the fact that the pianist had memorized the entire piece. He just couldn't get over it. That's something that I'm used to, but for a child it's pretty amazing.”;

For all the parents and grandparents, and aunties and uncles out there, this weekend is a great time to amaze the kids in your life. While we can't promise that they'll practice diligently from now on, there's no doubt they'll be impressed by the experience.

Time will tell whether Brad continues on the piano, but there's no doubt that he'll return to the concert hall one day. He hasn't finished counting the seats.

The Honolulu Symphony has recently made it easier and cheaper for students of any age to come to concerts. Student tickets (whether you're in elementary school or college) are always $10 each. Parents and adults who want to bring a child to the symphony also qualify for $10 tickets. Inquire at the box office.

Ross Taosaka is general manager of the Honolulu Symphony Chorus.