tanglewood music centerThe other day I was looking over my family’s summer “to do” list and feeling pretty happy about all the fun we’ve had. Here’s a glimpse:

1. Teach my five-year-old to ride a bike. Check.

2. Take a family hike every Sunday. Check.

3. Go to a classical music concert with the kids. Um, right. Not quite there yet. 

It’s not that there aren’t plenty of opportunities to hear live music where we live. It’s just that I wasn’t sure my kids could last through a concert. After all, two years ago we had to walk out of the Big Apple Circus when one of my kids got bored.

But now that my two sons are almost five and seven, I figured it was time to drum up my courage (pun intended) and take them to a concert.

Fortunately, the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is just an hour’s drive away in Lenox, Massachusetts. Tucked in the Berkshire Mountains not far from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Tanglewood is the ideal setting to introduce children to the joys of music.

So, what makes Tanglewood so great?

First of all, the BSO Education and Community Programs staff offer a superb menu of family-friendly activities like “Kids Corner”, where children and their parents can do musical and arts and crafts activities, and “Watch and Play”, where families can learn about an instrument, a concert theme or a musical concept. 

The prices too are something to sing about. Tickets for most concerts are free for kids under 17 (if you are willing to forgo the more formal concert experience and watch and listen from the lawn instead). Tickets for the Family Concert on August 21 are just $ 10 per adult.

At $42 (the price of two adult tickets), the Tanglewood on Parade concert seemed like a good bet, especially since the program included kid-friendly music, like the theme from Super Man and the score for the Harry Potter movies.

Pre-concert both boys got to try out the four enormous telescopes that were set up on the lawn as part of a NASA-sponsored astronomy outreach program. My four-year-old had a blast pretending to zoom through the air while the orchestra played the march from Super Man. My seven-year-old was mermerized by the musicians. Even James Taylor made a surprise appearance. And at the end of the gala, we got to see one of the best fireworks displays ever.

Not bad for our first classical concert as a family.

Like my son says, “That Yo Yo Mama (yes, he really said it that way) sure has fun playing his cello. And it was fun listening.” 

What’s in store for our next cultural outing? A trip to the opera!

Justine Ickes, a contributing writer for Washington Parent, writes about travel, culture, parenting and people making a difference.