Do you remember the first time you heard music? I can’t identify a particular song or artist as being the first, but I remember gradually becoming aware of music at about three or four.
My earliest musical memories include being upset at not being allowed to go to a Menudo concert with my mom and sister (I was appeased by a Menudo poster, so my reasons might not have all been musical). Mom’s folksy-hippie favorites John Denver and Peter, Paul and Mary sang of magic dragons and mountains in springtime on long weekend drives to Laguna. I learned to sing nine year-old Lea Salonga’s I Am But a Small Voice in kindergarten, and burst into tears whenever she sang about missing her Mama.
Like most Filipino kids, classical music was never part of my formative experiences with music. I heard classical music for the first time when I joined the Glee Club in college. While rehearsing for competitions in Europe, we were half-envious, half-terrified by stories about how our European competitors grew up with the Kodaly method or knew how to read notes from childhood. And though my friends—many of whom are now professional soloists, conductors and choristers—infected me with their passion for classical music, I still don’t know a whole lot about that world.
That’s why I love the idea of Babyconcertjes: live classical music performances for babies 0-2 years old. I love the idea of giving Tala something I never had: exposure to classical music at an early age. How could I not seize such an opportunity?
Founder Anna Smith created Babyconcertjes to give parents and babies an opportunity to enjoy beautiful, thoughtfully chosen pieces of chamber music in a relaxed environment. Each 45-minute concert is different, featuring local musicians who play solos, duets and small ensembles. Babyconcertjes are held in Utrecht, Den Haag, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Gouda and Haarlem.
Last weekend, Marlon and I took Tala to her first Babyconcertje, featuring Annabelle Ferdinand on the baroque violin and Marike Tuin on the baroque cello.
They played a small selection of pieces by Handel, Corelli and a few others, and presided over a mini sing-a-long for the little ones. We participated mostly via “smile and nod”, as all the Dutch parents knew the songs, but we didn’t!
At first, Tala seemed more interested in the other babies than in the music. Sitting right up front was a good move—then she listened to the musicians for a surprisingly long time.
Movement was part of it too. Daddy swayed her around in time with the music, and held her when she got really excited and started bouncing up and down.
Did Tala like it? Seems she did. Will she remember it? At this stage, no. Is it good for her? Science says yes, with numerous studies documenting the benefits of music to developmental aspects such as spatial reasoning, language learning and more. Did we enjoy our first Babyconcertje, and would we take her to one again? Most definitely!