As a mother of two young boys, I am all too familiar with the feeling of hurtling from one end of the day to the other with seemingly no time to take a breath. From endless diaper changes, constant feeding time at the zoo, to tidying the continual mess, listening to the infinite chatter of my 4-year-old and the glorious babbling from my 7-month-old, this has become the story and soundtrack of my life.
You would think that being a concert violinist would allow me the space and time to devote to my craft, enabling me to practice in a serene setting with nothing but my creativity around me. The reality, however, is somewhat different – juggling the constant demands of my kids, while somehow carving out
the precious hours that I need to maintain my craft.
As parents, we all know that balancing work and home life can be a challenge. In our case, our boys have been born into a mad household where both their parents are concert musicians. They are surrounded by endless hours of practice and rehearsals for concerts and Bach, Brahms & Mozart are just part of their everyday life.
This morning, my youngest son Rory happily played on the floor for nearly two hours while I battled with
Beethoven. His mood while he engaged with the music and his toys was blissful and happy, beaming up at me and singing along!
When I was a student, I often performed in a string quartet for functions and weddings. Like a moth to a flame and without fail, it was always the youngest in the room who were drawn, mesmerized, to watch the musicians up close.
Ashuelot Concerts for Kids was born from the realization that music speaks to young children in a very special and unique way and it is rare for preschoolers to have the opportunity to hear this music live. So, every month at the Keene Recreation Center on Washington Street we are organizing a special series of
performances for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, moms, dads, grandparents and caregivers.
Kids are little sponges; they innocently soak up the world around them without prejudice or judgement. Ashuelot Concerts wants to create a welcoming, calm environment for the very youngest in our community to experience the magic of a live string sound while being free to express themselves however the music moves them.
We also want to give parents and caregivers the chance to watch the wonder that live music brings to children. Playing live classical musical music has a transformative effect on children and we feel it is our duty to share this gift outside of the concert hall.
Each concert will feature two renowned string players, performing up to an hour of music. Music is at the very core of how we communicate. Every parent understands their baby’s cries and babbles long before they learn to speak.
Language is built on the musical ingredients of pitch, speed, rhythm, articulation and tone, all of which emerge much earlier than words in early childhood. The music inherent in our speech has a much
greater effect on how people respond to our behavior than actual words we use.
There have been countless studies that show the positive effect that engagement with classical music has on the brain. Music really is food for the soul!
Ashuelot Concerts is a nonprofit organization that presents six world-class chamber music recitals at Keene’s Congregation Ahavas Achim synagogue this year. However, our mission is much broader as we passionately believe that classical music can be used as a powerful force for good in the community.
As well as Concerts for Kids, we are taking workshops and performances into the public schools in Keene, local retirement communities and running a series of talks on music for curious adults. We want to reach out to as many people as possible and share our passion for this incredible music.
In October, we held the first of our Concerts for Kids at Keene Recreation Center. Everyone in the room, from the performers, our board members and the parents, to the slightly bewildered children, were a little nervous as to what to expect.
Astonishingly, as soon as the music began, the smiles spread around the room, there was dancing, gurgling, playing, crawling, singing, the occasional banging, but absolutely no tears, tantrums or disturbance for nearly an hour. It really was magical!
Upcoming Ashuelot Concerts for Kids will be held Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, from 10 to 11 a.m., in Room 14 of the Keene Recreation Center, 312 Washington St., Keene. Tickets are $10 per family at the door. Bring a blanket to sit on while you enjoy the music.
For more information, visit ashuelotconcerts.org/concerts-for-kids.