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Fun and Games, with Music: New York Philharmonic Resumes "Very Young People's Concerts"

Few concert series in New York City are as ultra-popular as are the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young People’s Concerts (VYPCs). Geared to children between the ages of three and six, these events began four years ago when Philharmonic staff members decided to offer an alternative for the increasing numbers of families bringing preschool- age children to the long-running Young People’s Concerts, which are designed for older children. The response was so enthusiastic that the number of performances at the 450-seat Merkin Concert Hall has been increased. There are now three repetitions of each of three programs, with one of each offered to preschool and kindergarten groups. And still they are sold out as soon as the tickets go on sale.
Journalist Nadine Brozan recently sat down for a conversation with four participants in the VYPCS one of them is Lori Custodero, a childhood music specialist and program coordinator of music education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who is the consultant in developing this series.
How do you think children as young as three engage with classical music?
Lori Custodero: “We generally underestimate the ability of children to understand musical ideas. If you babble very fast to babies, they recognize the humor and laugh. Often, in mis-educating children, we think it necessary to teach them what fast and slow, soft and loud (sub-themes of the concerts) are. They know it already. Children have a deep understanding of what loud sounds and soft sounds mean. So they come to us, even at three, with a lifetime of experience. Last year we asked the audience how the Can-Can made them feel, and they said, “Happy, dancey.”
Then the musicians played it in a different tempo and that was funny to the children. When we are very young, we process music at a very basic level through our emotions and through movement, feeling all the things that adults feel but regulate.”
The article “Fun and Games, with Music: New York Philharmonic Resumes "Very Young People's Concerts" was published on april 24th in “” website
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