Rock Out: Tips for Enjoying Music with Your Kids
Our little boy is named after George Harrison, my mother’s favorite Beatle. For almost every night of his life, the music of Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and Bob Dylan have lulled him to sleep. He can tell B.B. King from Buddy Guy just by listening to the guitar solos. I can’t lie – we’re pretty proud. Sharing what you love with your kids is one of the most rewarding parts of parenthood. We’ve found a few strategies that helped our son want to listen to something other than “Everything is Awesome.” Here are some ways to inspire your kids to rock out:
Start young: You don’t have to play only classical or soothing music for your baby. Our son, now age 7, was rocking to Creedence and Coltrane from day one.
Talk about the music you love and what it means to you: Our son knows we danced to Etta James and Lyle Lovett at our wedding and that music, like other forms of art, is a way to share love, process pain and incite revolution.
Let them find their own beat: From a toy ukulele to daddy’s saxophone from his high school band and a banged up piano we got for almost nothing on Craigslist, we have always had instruments around the house.
Listen to the music first: Be sure it doesn’t include language or subject matter that you don’t want your kids to hear.
Experience music together: Any and all music. Drum circles, solo performers, local choirs – there are so many ways to expose your kids to the power and diversity of live music.
Go see it live: Seeing live music is what my husband and I do together. So it is only natural that we want our son to be a part of what we love. With a little preparation and the right attitude, taking kids to musical performances can be great family time.
Know your kid: Don’t make your first show together a rock concert at a huge arena – start out with a musical storytime or open-air acoustic performance and work your way up as your kids get older. Our son can stay up a little late without too much drama, but if we go to a show that runs after his bedtime, we have to be fully prepared to leave early.
Invest in a good pair of sound-canceling earphones: Take these to every live show you attend and will cost you around $20. They aren’t always necessary, but you never know when something might be too loud for little ears. Also bring snacks and a drink for your kids and something fun like a light up wand or glowing necklace.
The Atlanta area has some outstanding music venues that are great for all ages. You’ll need to buy a ticket for your kid at all of these spots, so factor that into your budget. Make sure to check ahead that the particular performance is open to all ages.
Shows at Eddie’s Attic get you up-close and personal with musicians, and this intimate venue isn’t very loud. Check out open-mic nights and performances by artists from TV shows like “The Voice” – a good way to connect screen time to real life. While adult beverages are served, they have a kid-friendly food menu and an adjacent restaurant where you can take a break.
This large venue is where our son saw his first big concert – Old Crow Medicine Show. The secret to enjoying Verizon with kids is to buy lawn seats. This area is behind the more expensive assigned seats, and you can bring your blanket, stretch out and listen to the music together. The venue hosts a wide range of acts; we are looking forward to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams” in September.
Seeing a show at this lovely outdoor amphitheater is a defining experience of summertime in Atlanta. Bring a meal with you (outside food and drink are allowed at almost all shows), pack a few candles for ambiance, and sit back and relax. Go for seats that aren’t too close to the stage or the lawn to protect little ears. And, these shows all wrap up by 11 p.m. sharp. ticketmaster.com for tickets.
Concerts in the Garden are absolutely enchanting. With a view of the Atlanta skyline and the fragrance of the garden, you and the kids will love sitting on the Great Lawn and rocking out. These shows aren’t too loud, and the atmosphere is fun and light. Bring your picnic and low chairs, sit around the edges and near the back if you are concerned about volume, and get ready to dance under the stars.
See a show under the stars here, too – but indoors! This historic and mystical landmark hosts national music acts regularly. It can be loud so remember to bring ear protection.
All shows at the Variety Playhouse are general admission, and there are only a few seats – so this venue is a good fit for teens. From outstanding local acts to noted national artists, this Little Five Points venue is one to grow up to.
Newer on the Atlanta music scene, Terminal West is in the King Plow Arts Center. It has a decidedly cool vibe – the Center was formerly a tractor factory, and the music venue is in what was the smelting room. This is also a general admission venue, and a fair number of shows here are 18 and up, so check the details carefully before buying tickets.
If bluegrass, country and Americana is your music of choice, you need to know about Red Light Café. This intown venue hosts a wide variety of musicians, and with its homey vibe, it’s a fantastic place to catch a show with your kids.
This intimate and kid-friendly music venue in Duluth hosts an interesting mix of concerts, from a Rat Pack tribute to Banks and Shane. A songwriters’ open mic is held on the second and fourth Sundays.
Sherry and Jason Crawley
The Crawleys have traveled to Ireland to see Bruce Springsteen, to New York City to see Cream and they follow Jason Isbell almost anywhere they can. They listen to these songs with their son.
“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
“Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen
Rachel and Mark Pilvinsky
The Pilvinskys are life-long music lovers. He plays guitar and is making a documentary about longtime Athens band, Five Eight. She likes to sing and dance around the kitchen with their two girls.
“The Schuyler Sisters,” the Hamilton original soundtrack
“Ride” by Twenty One Pilots
“Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Director of Major Gifts and Special Projects, listens to these songs with her son, age 5.
“My House” by Flo Rida
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
“Night Begins to Shine” (Teen Titans Go!) by B.E.R.
Sandy Springs dad, Copeland enjoys these songs with his 10-year-old daughter.
“I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown
“Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE (radio edit)
A social worker from Sugar Hill, Alexander loves listening to these songs with her 4-year-old twins.
“Wonder” by Natalie Merchant
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
“Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz
The Communications Director at Dunwoody United Methodist Church, Townsend grooves to these favorites with her two kids.
“Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
Atlanta dad, Balint jams to these tunes with his 6-year-old and 3-year-old.
“Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants
“Dinosaur Act” by Low
“Apache (Jump On It)” by The Sugarhill Gang
The Associate Producer at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and her son like to dance wildly in the living room to these songs.
“The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)” by Jan & Dean
“My Shot” from Hamilton: An American Musical
“Science is Real” by They Might Be Giants
Taylor, who sings with the ATL Groove Factory, and her 7-year-old son love these songs.
“Run The World” by Beyonce
“Paradise” by Coldplay
– Sherry V. Crawley
Check out our Spotify playlist, “Atlanta Parent Reader Favorites” to hear some of these songs. (note: Spotify is free to download on your desktop, but there’s monthly fee for the mobile app).