Music outings with kids are educational, uplifting and just plain fun! We’d like to introduce you to a few of the best organizations that provide outreach to the public, specifically with young children in mind. Your kids, like ours have, will love getting acquainted (and even hands on) with a variety of musical styles.
Minnesota Youth Symphonies: Music & Melody Makers
975 Snelling Avenue, St Paul MN
Here’s a sampling of the questions that start rolling around in my head when wondering if my kids are musically-inclined: Have they shown any particular talent? Band or strings? Have I already missed the boat for piano lessons? Where do I even begin to find these answers? If you’ve been asking some of the same questions, I encourage you to check out the free Music & Melody Makers program hosted by Minnesota Youth Symphonies.
What to expect at Music & Melody Makers
It’s a fun, low-stress way to introduce kids (ages 3-14) to the legions of beautiful instruments that make up the orchestra. My goal in our taking the kids was to see if they were drawn to any instrument in particular. They could try out the string, bass, woodwind and percussion instruments if they liked, or (when shyness took over) could watch students demonstrate. My favorite moments were watching my 5-year-old try her hand at the clarinet (like Mom & Grandma before her) and my 3-year-old get behind the timpani. After experimenting, we were treated to a mini-performance by the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Philharmonic (full-sized) Orchestra. The highlight was the conductor inviting my daughter, Emily, onstage to guest-conduct the students!
Tips to register for Music & Melody Makers
Registration is required because space is limited and is often full by the event date. You can watch for free Music & Melody Makers events on our FAMILY FUN CALENDAR. The event is completely free, including parking, and there is no sales pitch. Events typically take place in January & April. Click here to find upcoming dates for Music & Melody Makers with Minnesota Youth Symphonies.
St Paul Chamber Orchestra: Free Family Music Series
The Free Family Music Series, featuring the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, is a wonderful way to introduce kids to classical music. Tickets to these events are always free, but required ahead of time and are available on a first-come basis. Three different musical experiences are offered to choose from which I’ll elaborate on further:
St Paul Chamber Orchestra Free Family Concerts
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in this creative way. The kids and I went to one of their Family Concerts, this one called Teaching Mozart Music. They had a young actor play the part of young Mozart with an animated narrator speaking to the audience. We learned that Mozart liked to call himself Punchatini, that he was only four years old when he wrote his first piano concerto, and that he went on to write 26 in all. The narrator was especially hilarious when he displayed how to walk and sit with elegance and dignity. He spoke right to the audience and engaged us with each story.
St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Start the Music!
At this program, we learned all about the brass section of the orchestra by participating in activities before the concert began. Anyone who wanted to try to play a brass instrument was given the opportunity to blow into a trumpet, french horn or trombone. There were coloring pages, a puppet-making activity, and horn-making stations. Afterwards, we went into the music room and listened to a reading of The Tortoise & the Hare with the help of different instruments.
St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Xplorchestra
Finally, I took my kids to the Xplorchestra! program. I wasn’t as excited about this event, mainly because I mistakenly thought it was aimed at 3-6 year olds, but it is actually designed for ages 6-12. There were no pre-concert activities and the story and audience participation were geared towards older kids. However, we still enjoyed ourselves. We were able to sit up close to the musicians and experience the orchestra in this short concert.
Which St Paul Chamber Orchestra free family music program should you choose?
If you can only choose one event, I recommend SPCO’s Family Concert. You get the real concert experience and the full orchestra – but I hope you don’t have to choose because these events are FUN! Each family is allowed a max of up to four tickets per concert – hurry and grab yours because these tickets go fast! Find and register for upcoming St Paul Chamber Orchestra Free Family Music events here.
— originally published by Gianna Kordatzky
MacPhail Center for Music Free Family Music Series
MacPhail’s Free Family Music Series is another fun outreach program that features a performance by a kid-friendly musical group and typically a chance to craft a play-along musical instrument and try out a few more. Your experience may vary; when I attended with my kids several years ago we were able to get very hands-on with this musical outing. We had a great time sitting down close to the stage and getting up to move to the music when inspired. The concert experience is about 30 minutes long (there are usually two times to choose from) and there is no need to reserve space. Click here to see the upcoming schedule for MacPhail’s Free Family Music Series.
— originally published by Anne Kingston
Schubert Club Music Museum
Landmark Center, 75 W 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Somewhat hidden away in the beautiful, historic LANDMARK CENTER, is the free SCHUBERT CLUB MUSEUM, a hidden gem that allows kids to experiment with a cacophony of musical instruments. The small museum inside of a grand building includes rare instruments, a fascinating “instrument cyclone”, and interactive musical exhibits. The museum was renovated in 2020 to add the Music Makers Zone, a whole room of hands-on instruments, where my kids loved experimenting with trying their hand at composing their own selections and learning about musical instruments from other countries. In the Keyboard Journey exhibit, you can explore the development of keyboards, from the Italian Harpsichord to the Streicher grand piano. The Schubert Club is always FREE to visit, making it an ideal budget family outing.
Schubert Club performances
Schubert Club Family Concerts feature national and local musicians performing folk, ethnic and classical music. Performances include storytelling, dance and audience participation. Some concerts are sensory-friendly. Advanced tickets are encouraged. Visit the link to see the most current performance calendar.
Schubert Club KidsJam Workshops have been offered on weekdays during the school year and were originally created for homeschool families, but anyone can sign up to attend. These do tend to sell out fast though, so sign up early. Please visit the link to find details on upcoming offerings as these tend to change.
Quick List of Twin Cities Music Outings with Kids
• Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, St. Paul
• MacPhail Center for Music: Free Family Music Series, Minneapolis
• Minnesota Youth Symphonies, St. Paul
• Schubert Club Museum, St. Paul
• St. Paul Chamber Orchestra: Target Free Family Music, St. Paul
• VocalEssence, Minneapolis