Philly Orchestra Offers Sensory-Friendly Concerts
Children with sensory issues are welcome at the Saturday editions of the "Sound All Around" series.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is making its popular Saturday kids concerts sensory-friendly, part of a larger effort to reach a wider and more diverse audience in the city.
The “Sound All Around” series was already aimed at small children ages 3 to 5, giving them a chance to mingle with musicians and featuring storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. Beginning October 15, the Saturday concerts will also be tailored to the needs of kids on the autism spectrum or with developmental disabilities. (The program also runs on Mondays, but those are not designated to be sensory-friendly.)
The orchestra will also provide toys to help with sensory stress, a quiet room, and trained staff and volunteers to help families. The lights will be up, the sound will be (relatively) low, and the mood will be loose and friendly, with kids welcome to move around and make noise. It’s open to any family that wants to attend.
“We are passionate about offering performances that serve all Philadelphians,” orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore said in a press release. “Few things are more rewarding than watching a child respond to music, and we wanted to make this wonderful experience possible to families who might not have previously been able to attend.”
The 45-minute concerts begin at 10 am and 11:15 am in the Academy of Music ballroom. Here are the dates and instruments coming up:
October 15: strings, featuring cello
November 19: percussion
January 7: wind instruments, featuring English horn
March 11: brass instruments, featuring tuba
April 1: ensemble
These concerts are part of the orchestra’s broader HEAR Program, which stands for Health, Education, Access, and Research. The goal is to break down barriers for city residents to experience the orchestra, as well as promote music education and research into the benefits of music.
For more information — including resources to help prepare kids for a concert — visit the orchestra’s Sound All Around page. Tickets are $10 per person; a subscription to the whole series is $42.50.
Photographs by Will Figg and courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra.