I love classical music and jazz. One of my goals as a parent is to pass that love on to my children. But I recognize that the orchestra is not accessible to a young child. And the Orlando Philharmonic recognizes that as well. That’s why they introduced Symphony Storytime – a series that pairs a small chamber group with a story. We have attended two of these concerts so far -Paddington’s First Concert, and the Jazz Fly.

What Happens at The Performance

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At each of the shows, a narrator comes out, and introduces the instruments and the performers. Each instrument is presented to the children, and they get to hear what it sounds like on its own. Then the group plays together. Sometimes there is discussion about the music that they are playing, but the focus is on the story and how it fits with the music overall. And through it all, the children have been captivated, their attention held by Candace Neal, the narrator. She speaks to them (not down at them) and it’s to her credit that the children are quiet and focused during the concert.

After the Show

symphony storytime

After each concert, there are activities to participate in, and a program to complete. For most children, the first stop is the instrument petting zoo, where there are usually three instruments – drums, a string instrument, and a woodwind instrument or a horn. I say usually because for some performances of the Jazz Fly, they had a saxophone for the children to try, but they did not for others due to flu concerns. Kids line up for the chance to try each of the three instruments, under the tutelage of the musicians from the performance. The musicians interact with the children and show them how to play and hold the instruments.

symphony storytime

Other musicians mill about before ending up at the runway – where the children can strut their stuff with props themed to the story they just heard. There is also a photo backdrop, again with themed props, and a coloring station. The coloring page is in the program, so you can skip this without much concern.

For younger children, there is a tot corner, where volunteers show the children various drums, bells, and other instruments, and show them how larger versions of each instrument make different sounds compared to the smaller versions. Some kids get that, but a lot of them just like to bang on the drums.

Where to See the Show

There are still two more performances this season. The Runaway Bunny will be performed on March 11th and 17th, and Jack and the Beanstalk will be performed on May 6th and 12th. In addition, the Philharmonic will perform Paddington’s First Concert, on February 10th at 2:00PM in Winter Park. If you can’t make it this season, hopefully the program will continue next season.

Symphony Storytime concerts are hosted by the Plaza Live on Bumby.