“Mommy, I can’t wait to go to the symphony!” is maybe not something you hear your children say very often, but it could be. For our family, visiting our local Jacksonville Symphony with kids is the perfect way to enjoy a unique experience and expose our kid to some culture. The symphony gets bonus points for family fun, since this is something parents will also enjoy. All shows may not be family appropriate, but there are plenty of opportunities to expose them to that symphony life. Here are some reasons why we love going on fancy dates to the Jacksonville Symphony, and a few pro-mom tips to make the experience a success.
Perfect Excuse to get Dressed Up
As moms we don’t have a lot of opportunity to get snazzy in situations when our kids are involved. A trip to the symphony is the perfect reason to wear a cute dress and some heels. Our kids love to play dress up, and this an excellent opportunity to show them how different dress codes are expected in certain settings. Some favorite memories include spritzing perfume on a little wrist and tying a little tie just right.
Symphony Family Traditions
My daughter’s first symphony experience was seeing The Nutcracker. She was almost 4 years old and I’m pretty sure she thought the dancers onstage were actual fairies. And the snow that falls during the show, forget about it; she was hooked. Now seeing the Nutcracker is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Although I personally am a girl mom, this is not specific to the little women. I know several little men who loved seeing Nutcracker as well.
Explore Downtown Jacksonville
Living at the beach, we tend to stay at the beach. Heading to the symphony is a great way to see beautiful downtown Jax. If you don’t venture downtown often, this is a great way to start. Downtown has a different vibe than the beach and we think that’s a good thing! The symphony is located in a picture perfect location right on the river. If you’d like to have lunch or dinner before the show, many delish and kid-friendly restaurants are located within about 10 minutes (our go-to is Taverna in San Marco). There are many parking options close by as well, including garages, lots and valet. Don’t forget cash!
Practice those Manners & Best Behaviors
It is important to be realistic about our individual child’s ability and/or motivation to sit quietly during the show. The Symphony is certainly not for everyone, and that’s ok. My firstborn did great at her first show, but my second (who just turned 3) has a very different personality. It’s important to decide if this will be a good learning experience for your child, just maybe not at the expense of the other guests’ enjoyment or at the literal expense of your wallet. It will help to practice at home and let your children know what expectations are before going.
Research the Jacksonville Symphony Schedule
It’s so important to pick a show that your child will enjoy and maybe has had prior exposure to (whether in music, movie or book form). The Nutcracker really is a perfect first symphony experience, that festive feel is hard to beat. The cinema series is another fantastic way to experience the Jacksonville Symphony with kids. For the cinema series, there is a featured movie played on a large screen, and our favorite part, the entire symphony up on stage (not hidden down in the pit) playing the soundtrack. These shows tend to be more lenient in terms of audience expectations & dress. You can cheer and clap loudly at the fun parts and you can even dress in character. Our favorite show is Harry Potter, but some other favorite shows include Up, Star Wars & Jurassic Park.
Don’t Forget to Grab Some Snacks
A fun part of this experience is grabbing a hot cocoa or some popcorn at intermission. If you’re concerned about long lines (which do form), you can leave a bit before intermission to get a head start. Some shows allow snacks inside the theatre as well.
Learning about the Symphony
If this is your child’s first theatre experience, we recommend grabbing a book which explains each instrument, the conductor’s role, etc. One of our favorite parts of these shows is arriving a bit early and peering down into the pit to see these awesome musicians warming up.
So what do you think parents, are you ready to take the kids for a concert at the Jacksonville Symphony?
Mattie Shepherd moved to Jax Beach from Cincinnati about 3 years ago. She was a school psychologist for 9 years and enjoys using behaviorism on her husband and 2 daughters (JK, kind of). Mattie co-leads a Daisy Troop, is very proud to be on PTA board and cheers LOUDLY watching her daughter play ALL the sports. Mattie loves exploring Jax, especially in search of parks, coffee, cocktails and delish food. At home, she likes baking with her girls, dreaming of buying a fixer upper and covering it with #shiplap, and cropping messes out of her Instagram shots.