Thursday, 12 May 2016

Orchestral concerts for babies?

I'll be honest with you, sometimes I find being a mum bloody hard work. I have two gorgeous children and I know how lucky I am, I really do, but sometimes I do find it difficult trying to cook for, tidy after and play with two Under-3's at the same time. I'll admit that sometimes - sssssh! - I resort to screentime...

Actually, I don't think that a little (carefully chosen!) screentime is too bad really. You'll see CBeebies mentioned a fair bit in this blog because I think they do provide some very good music and arts programming. However, my daughter's first taste of screentime wasn't actually CBeebies.

Karl-Heinz Meurer [GFDL (, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 de (], via Wikimedia Commons

When she was a baby and I needed to get a quick tidy round done I would find some Andre Rieu concerts on YouTube and play bits from them: we both enjoyed the music and it gave her something to look at when she got bored with whatever toy she had chosen to chew on at that time. (I feel I should point out that obviously she wasn't watching a full concert!)

I was reminded of her YouTube watching this week. I desperately need to get the house sorted the two days my daughter is at nursery as we have guests coming, but my nearly eight month old can only entertain himself for so long, so I thought I would try Andre Rieu again: he loves it! He was bobbing and chatting to it and it even seemed to distract him from trying to chew his own hand off (stupid teething!)

 Andre Riu Live in Maastricht 2015

So why does my son seem to love the concerts?  

Obviously, he is going to  be some superstar classical musician when he grows up... or there could be a few more realistic reasons:

  1. It's music - babies love music (or at least mine do!)
  2. It's generally (if you choose the right bits) rousing music
  3. There's singing as well as instrumental pieces (certainly my daughter was more engaged if there was singing as well as playing)
  4. You get to see the audience interacting: they clap, they sway etc. (both of my babies have been people-watchers)
  5. The orchestra and singers (well the female ones!) wear pretty coloured dresses and the backdrop is always very colourful
  6. Rieu turns and acts up to the camera (whatever you may think of this in a conductor, it does keep my son's interest)
  7. And finally, never forgetting, it's on a screen! 

Now I should say, I am definitely not employed to plug Andre Rieu, much as it may sound like it! I'm sure there are plenty of other orchestral videos on YouTube that would also engage babies. It's just that as I've found one that works I'm sticking with it!

So do I feel bad about shoving my son in front of a screen?

Well, yes, I do. But the housework needs to be done and there is plenty of research showing that classical music is good for babies (a topic I will return to again in more detail) so I console myself with the idea that maybe, just maybe, it is doing him some good, teaching him about melody and rhythm etc. And at least it's not Peppa bloody Pig...!

If you have come across any classical music videos that your little ones like, do please spread the word below: variety is the spice of life, after all.

PS: I apologise for the lack of accents in Andre Rieu throught - I haven't worked out how to do that yet on this blog!

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