If you want to take your children to a concert which is entertaining, spirited and educational, please bring your children to see the world-famous Los Angeles Philharmonic perform as part of the Toyota Symphony of Youth Series at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Mishy and I had the pleasure of being part of the audience this Saturday where we witnessed Joshua Weilerstein conduct the L.A. Philharmonic, joined by legendary jazz pianist John Beasley and his band. They were talking about jaaaazzzzz. That’s how John Beasley told the audience to pronounce it – “With a little bit of funk. Jaaaazzzz.”

This concert series is geared for children aged 5-11 years old. Mishy is 3 years old and she was enthralled as were older members of the audience who attended with no children at all. They simply came for the desire of hearing great music and great music we heard! The performance was seamless. The musicians tuned their instruments, then there was a pause as the first violinest walked on stage. I love this procession. The audience members clapped and then Joshua or Josh, as he was referred to during the concert, walked on stage to more claps and immediately the philharmonic played Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Finale. My soul was in bliss. As Josh Weilerstein introduced himself, the audience member heard some scatting growing increasingly louder as John Beasley walked on stage and was happily introduced.

John Beasley entertainingly talked about jazz – and then his band members came on stage to play. Different sections of music was played in jazz style and then in classical style and vice versa. It was fascinating to hear the same piece of music played in different styles. Mishy asked if it was the same piece or different, if it was being played by the same instruments or different, and what instrument was being played. This was music to my ears because I thought – yes, she gets it!  She’s interested and intrigued.

The concert ended with two versions of Itsy Bitsy Spider – and this included audience participation. We were to sing the lyrics as John Beasley’s band played. Mishy sang with gusto and clapped with the same excitement once the concert was sadly over.

Every parent deserves to take their children to see the Toyota Symphony of Youth concerts – so they can hear world class music in a beautiful space while their children are wonderfully exposed to the power of music. Next year, as soon as tickets are available, we are subscribing to all of the concerts in this series.



The last concert for this season is on April 23rd and 30th, 2011 at 11AM. It is: The Hero Composer, conducted by David Afkham, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. One hour prior to each concert, there are various art, music, and dance activities in the lobby of the Music Center.

(We were given press tickets to attend the concert.)

Mishy playing do and mi.

I love when things seredipidusously happen. I enter giveaways because I like winning things and I do tend to win.  I won a family four pack of tickets to see Brooklyn based jazz musician, Oran Etkin in concert in October. Because we are a family of three, I offered the extra ticket on a yahoo group I own and co-moderate – Natural Parenting LA. Some of my friends are members of this yahoo group and I thought this would be the most diplomatic way to offer the extra the ticket. The person who won the ticket emailed me that night and asked if my daughter had ever participated in a music class taught by Oran. No, but I thought let’s see if it’s possible to organize one while he’s here. I remember emailing him and then her late into that night trying to figure out the details to see how this can happen. I got so excited about the possibilities.

Why? Because when my daughter was younger, I took her to a music class where a teacher with a guitar sings and passes around instruments to play and while it’s a way to connect with other parents, in terms of actual music learning – not really. More importantly, after that one class series, my daughter made it very clear she wanted nothing to do with music classes.  Yet, she’s showed a keen interest in music – notably piano and has been asking for a piano for over a year now. I had talked to piano teachers about giving my daughter lessons, and they said they don’t teach children until they are 4-6 years old. Mishy was 1.5 years old when she started asking to play piano. I did investigate the Suzuki method and found a good Suzuki violin teacher, but Mishy said she wanted to learn piano. I thought maybe the ideal situation would be to find a class that taught music in a child friendly way and I thought perhaps Oran’s music class would be the answer.

During my early correspondence with Oran, he told me the class would be special. And it is. Musical concepts such as beats, high/low notes, hearing notes in music, parts of an instrument, classification of instruments, being introduced to non traditional instruments, and so many more are done in respectful, fun ways. His classes are entirely refreshing, enjoyable and most importantly, they are taught in a way that get into your bones so music becomes natural and comprehensive . After the first class, Mishy started becoming curious about all the instruments I had bought during our travels. We started having parades on our street and concerts at home and she wanted to go to concerts and learn – really learn about music – which made me incredibly happy because I love going to concerts and being surrounded by music as well.

When Oran wrote to me in December and let me know he would be in Los Angeles again to celebrate his nomination and attend the Grammy ceremony – he has been nominated for his work on the CD, Healthy Food For Thought – I jumped at the opportunity to host two more classes and help spread the word about his classes. (He taught at a friend’s daughter’s preschool and a homeschooling group as well as two other private classes during his recent time here.) He teaches children from 0-12 years of age and private classes are 6-12 participants. Los Angeles based parents, he will be returning in the summer, most likely June 2011! Consider your children very lucky if they get an opportunity to have him as a teacher. (Oran teaches classes in New York regularly, when not traveling with his band.)

Learning about the caxixis - pronounced cashishi