Friday, April 22, 2011

Of Concerts, Choirs and Handbells: Sharing the Wide, Wide World With My Children

I have often said the world is our classroom.
This doesn't just mean to teach us about nature: learning plant names and identifying sea creatures when we are at the tide pools.
What I mean is: 
when we venture out into the world, there are infinite things for us to learn about and from.  
Some of our learning comes from books.
But much of our learning comes from experience.  
When given the chance to see, to touch and to hear the marvels that make up our marvelous world, our learning becomes richer and more meaningful.
It stays with us forever.
That is why I try to share as much of the wide, wide world as I can with my kids.

Last week we had the chance to attend a choral concert at a world class concert hall in Orange County.

I jumped at the chance to take my boys.  
In the end, William opted to stay home with his Daddy, probably a good choice since it was a 2 hour concert with no intermission, and it started at bedtime.
He wouldn't have made it.
So it was just James and I on a date.  How I do love to take that boy on a date.
Especially to a place like this.
The venue is striking.  We talked architecture and design.  We took the elevator to the top and looked down at friends far below.  We gawked at the giant chandelier.
How different from our hikes in nature, and yet, how important to show him the amazing things the mind of man can create, since he has been endowed by THE CREATOR with the capacity to imagine.

We met a few friends there, which made it that much more fun.
And once we were inside, in a real theater, with a giant pipe organ, lights and balcony seating ("just like the seats where Abraham Lincoln was, Mommy"--real life experiences bring books to life!) the kids settled down and enjoyed the show.  
A 2 hour choral concert.  
And yes, James truly, thoroughly enjoyed it.

It started with handbells.
Little known fact: I love hand bells.  
I played hand bells at church for a short time in 4th grade.  White gloves and all.
Heck yeah I did.
Don't give me any guff about it either.  Hand bells are awesome. 
(I also worked at the library.  I was total geek material.  But I've grown into my geek status and now I wear it proudly.  I wonder where I can get some private handbell lessons?)
James was entranced.  He'd never seen anything like them.
Just look how big the bells are at the end of the line.

The choir was from Mater Dei high school in Santa Ana, where the Daddy of one of our home school friends is the director of choral activities.  
The choir just returned from touring Italy.  They sang in the Sistine Chapel and other amazing spots across Italy.  (check this out)
When the handbell ensemble played a venue in Italy, a trumpeter in the Roman orchestra recorded them with his cell phone.   They'd never seen hand bells before and, they thought them pretty awesome.  See?

The choir was made up of 9-12th graders. with a few numbers by a junior high honor choir.
I liked James seeing these people, just a few years older than himself, making beautiful music.  Not listening to Lady Gaga, but singing music that has passed the test of 300 years time.  
Don't get me wrong, we like Johhny Cash, too.  And we listen to him.
But, to see James' eyes light up when he heard these boys, The Kingsmen, sing together was pretty great.  He appreciated the difference between the all female and all male choirs.
He especially liked it when the boys sang bass.  "I didn't know their voices could do that."

We didn't get home until after 10.  James was still wide awake to tell Aaron all about the concert.
And he wants to go to the next one, a "coffee house" concert where there will be jazz.
And cookies.
I won't deny that the cookies were part of the draw.
I could not have asked for a better night out with my boy.
Thanks to Mr. Scott and Ms. Debbie for inviting us and helping experience us more of the wide, wide world.

On a practical note, how do you share the wide, wide world with your kids when, realistically, much of that world can be expensive to take part of?
In a few months we'll have 4 kids.  I don't know if we'll ever be able to afford to take all our kids to see Mary Poppins or the Lion King on stage.
I wish we could, but just because we can't doesn't mean I'll throw my hands up in the air, and crank up the Lady Gaga.  (not to bag on her too much, but seriously, people let their kids listen to her?)
Did you know most museums have a free day every month?
Did you know you can see quality, youth choirs, orchestras and plays with ticket prices for as little as $10?  
Public gardens, arboretums and other places with historical significance often have free days too.
Sometimes, just visiting a place of cultural significance is a great experience.  Like this or this.
There are so many great things we can do with our kids.
It might require a little extra thought, leg work, a drive, a night out or a day off of our routine, but in the end, it is worth every minute.
Because we actually have to get out into the world if we truly want to experience it.
I'd love to hear how you share the world with your kids.  I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.
Share with me!

I'll leave you with this link to inspire you and prepare your hearts for the most special day ahead: the day our Saviour rose again.  Hosanna!  Glory to God in the Highest!
Have a wonderful Easter.
With love from,


mygirl said...

greta, this was such a great night. i am glad you captured some awesome pics. i love these life learning experiences that we share with our children and one reason why i love our group and all of our mama's so much. thanks for the post and happy easter!
xoxo, christina

The Melvin Fam said...

You captured the evening beautifully! You even got some clandestine pics!! Awesome! Scott and I are so glad that you and James got a date night, and happy that James enjoyed himself so much. We are looking forward to seeing you both at Coffeehouse! :) Although, beware - there will be some more contemporary artists...but NO Gaga ;)

hannah singer said...

what a fabulous opportunity-nothing like beautiful music in a beautiful hall. hand bells fascinate me, soul stirring!