Friday, January 10, 2014

A Good Companion in the Arts

With signs of Matthew's emerging maturation at top of mind lately, I've been truly and delightedly surprised by his good companionship at a few more recent events.

I started noticing it last summer.  In August, Matthew and I had a 'date' night at a local theatre company when I took him to a wonderful musical production of Mary Poppins.  The show was close to three hours long and he was riveted for the entire time.  I think I enjoyed watching his reaction as much as I enjoyed the musical!

Then, shortly before Christmas, while Seth and Lizzie were in their weekly music class at a local university, Matthew and I chanced upon the rehearsal of a handbell choir that was preparing for the university's christmas concert the following evening.  We sat down and listened to the rehearsal and Matthew was entranced.  We decided that we needed to attend that concert together the following night.

So we did.  That next evening, Matthew and I dressed up a little and spent 2.5 hours listening to choral, chamber, and instrumental music - classical, jazz, operatic, spiritual, seasonal, etc.  It was wonderful.  We heard choirs sing; jazz bands play; harpsichords and pianos; a dozen handbell musicians ringing their bells; quartets of singers and guitarists and flutes; etc etc.  The quality of the musicianship was extremely high and we loved it!  Again, I was as captured by Matthew's face as I was by the music.  So many times, his mouth (literally) hung open as he stared at the musicians and he almost seemed to fall into a spell cast by the music.  I'm already thinking that he and I will attend some of next summer's jazz festival, because Matthew appears to be quite partial to live jazz.

I am both surprised and delighted by this new enjoyment factor of his.  Matthew has been exposed to a lot of music in his life already, of many different varieties.  He has been in music classes of one variety or another for many years; we listen to music at home a lot; and we have attended quite a few symphony concerts over the years (and Seth and Lizzie now, too) as well as productions of a local theatre for young people.  But it's only been these last number of months where he has appeared to love it and to be also interested in productions for "grown ups."  He's starting to experience what I have for many years - that there is something about well executed, live music or theatre that touches the soul.  It's magical, a healing balm, rest full.

A week before Christmas I took Matthew to see a production of A Christmas Story, presented by a wonderful local theatre company.  Four of cast members, including the lead Ralphie, were homeschooled children that we know (unschoolers, actually) and we initially signed up to go in support of those kids.  It was a sold out performance, although Matthew was one of the only children in attendance.  He loved it...the play as well as the whole experience of attending such an event in a real, grown-up theatre!  For almost 2.5 hours, he sat riveted by the actors on stage, and during the intermission he said over a cup of hot chocolate that we need to attend the theatre again soon because it was just "so awesome."

A couple of days before Christmas, I took all of the kids to a child-friendly theatre production (based on Robert Munsch's books) and I love that we can do this with them; I hope that Seth and Lizzie find a love for music and the theatre as well as they get more and more exposure.  I believe that music and theatre are significant parts of a holistic learning experience, and I hope that my younger children develop a love of them as Matthew is currently experiencing.

It's also been really lovely, too, for me - I suddenly have an eager, interested and interesting companion for these kinds of events and I'm starting to think that my attendance at the theatre and in musical productions may be ramping up again.

That, quite frankly, is music to my ears!

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