It’s THIS Sunday !!!   The annual ISO Cookie Concert is one of my favorite events of the year !  I am so proud to live in Lakeland, where we have our own fabulous orchestra, led by Mark Theilen, who loves to introduce music to children of all ages.  I don’t know if you can read all the details on the poster, plus, there is so much more to say, so I will elaborate.

At the Lakeland Center, this Sunday, April 15, 2012, the Imperial Syphony Orchestra (ISO) will be offering a free concert specifically designed for children… and this year… their pets.  “Bring your well-behaved pet on a leash or in a cage and join in the animal parade.”  Sounds awesome !  Although  I recommend stuffed fuzzy friends, rather than real ones, so your child can focus on the music instead of the animal, especially with the younger children.   Hmmm… I wonder if they will be offering pet treats as well as cookies during intermission?  Bring your own treat for your animal, just in case!  Otherwise, your pet may try to nab a cookie from an unsuspecting child (spoken from experience!)

BEFORE the concert:  Recognize this as an opportunity for community service – this year, there are TWO agencies that “CAN” benefit, VISTE and the SPCA.  We are indeed blessed that the concert is free.  This is a way to “pay it forward”.

  • Bring a few cans of Tuna to donate to VISTE.  Talk to your child about elderly people who live alone and what they might need.  Let your child help you get the Tuna cans from the cupboard, or at the store, and help them realize this food will become an appreciated meal by an elderly person.  Even better, get involved, take the tour, and be a part of their mission to enhance the quality of life for the many frail elderly folks that live in Polk County.
  • Bring a few cans of dog or cat food to donate to the SPCA.  Make arrangements in the near future to visit the SPCA.  If you can get a group together, take the tour !  Our Girl Scout troop absolutely enjoyed the full tour, as well as making and gathering all the wonderful things to donate for our furry friends.
  • BRING along another child who may not normally have this opportunity.   It is a RICH EXPERIENCE !  SHARE it!  The expression on their faces, and the impression it leaves in their hearts and minds is so worth it !!!
Set up your child for success:  Some children, esp. younger ones, listen better when they have something to do with their hands, like drawing or coloring, or molding something like Silly Putty.  Bring a few items with you, ie. “fill your toolbox”.  KNOW your child and set them up for success.  Do your best to make sure they are not hungry or tired.  I know… it may be impossible to make it work that day, but I did say Do your Best!


Be sure to arrive early.  Pre-concert activities begin at 2:00 pm., and these give children the opportunity for hands-on experiences.  For example, many times, the musicians bring out their instruments into the foyer and allow the children to pluck the strings, or move the keys while the musician plays.  There have also been “mini-concerts” with young children performing on their violins, etc.   Your young children really benefit from these early activities, and it helps prepare them for the sitting and listening part.   As well as the “instrument petting”, there will probably be “pet petting” going on.  My daughter will be trying to pet every dog there !

Find a good seat where your child can see.  During the concert, the conductor is famous for involving the children along the way, including asking questions, and having volunteers do something silly.  And, of course, there is a visit by the Publix gator.  (And we are extremely grateful to Publix who provides a great deal of support in order to make this a free concert for our community!).  The music this year is SURE to be delightful!

  • Carnival of the Animals
  • Pink Panther
  • Jurassic Park
  • Happy Feet
  • Muppet Medley
  • Chicken Dance (Teach your child the dance moves ahead of time.  See this video.)
  • Whistler and his Dog

During the concert, take a deep breath and relax.  LISTEN to the music.  Make brief comments/questions to your child about the sounds you hear from the orchestra.  This helps them to focus their listening.  What instruments can be heard?  Try to help them pick out the high sounding instruments, AND the low ones.  What animal is the composer reflecting on with this music?  Which instrument makes the best sound of the animal?   Ask them to close their eyes and listen.  If there is an animal specified, what does it seem like the animal might be doing?   What images does the music bring to mind?  What pictures does the music paint in YOUR mind?  Share this with your child only after you hear their answers.

After the concert, throughout the next few weeks, make a point to continue this active listening.  Look to the local library to check out these recordings.  Go find more live music !   Listen to music you have at home with the same intensity.  Expand your listening library with this two CD set: Classics for Children by Decca Records, which I recommend to everyone!  And you may even consider ordering the Carnival of Animals Listening Guide and coloring book, with the CD of the music!


I look forward to seeing you at the concert !!!  PLEASE SHARE if you have any other helpful tips for parents bringing their child, maybe for the first time.