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Field Trips on Music and Sound in NYC

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Science, Museums, and More

  • Guitar Center has lots of instruments displayed that you are allowed to play, for FREE. Most stores have their instruments unavailable. Here you can play anything, and listen to other customers play, and learn from knowledgeable employees. Locations in three boroughs: 25 W. 14th St. in Manhattan, 34-17 48th Street in LIC Queens, 139 Flatbush Ave. (at Atlantic) in Brooklyn, all open seven days.

  • Paley Media Center, NYC Museum of Television and Radio, 25 W. 52nd St., open Wednesday – Sunday, Adults/$10; Students & Seniors /$8; Kids/$5 (age 14 and under). Watch and listen to old shows in the interactive viewing room where you can access 150,000 TV episodes, ads and radio programs. Classes and workshops are available (, for a $90 fee for a group of up to thirty people.

  • FAO Schwartz to play the giant keyboard – FREE.

  • Art and Sound at the Metropolitan Museum: Visit the Metropolitan Museum (or any art museum) and search for sound in art. Whoever said that a museum visit was supposed to be a silent experience? Sounds exist in art, even if you can't hear them. Suggested works of art to visit in the Met:
    • European Paintings (second floor): If Goya's famous portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuńiga is on view, you can imagine the sounds of his pet bird and the noises (and thoughts) of the cats in the painting. Don't miss the room of Edouard Manet's paintings, where you can imagine the songs of the guitar-playing Spanish Singer and listen to the parrot talk to the Young Lady in 1866. Looking at Boating, can you imagine that you hear the sound of the wind rippling the sail, and the chopping of the waves against the boat?
    • European Sculpture (first floor): This is a good place to sit when you need a rest. While you rest, you can play talking statues. Whisper to each other what you think the statues might be saying. Perhaps they are talking to each other! Download a Family Map and a children's guide to animals in the galleries or ask for these at the information desk (, and explore more places to listen for sounds. There is also an antique instrument collection, but that might not be as much fun as listening to the animals in ancient Egyptian drawings, where fish swim and splash, and cats meow and play.

  • At the Liberty Science Center just across the river in New Jersey, on the 2nd fl., explore the Communication Exhibit, from totem poles to sound waves:

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For older teens and adults:

  • For ages 16 and up: take a tour of the Steinway Factory in Long Island City (Queens), voted by Forbes as one of the top three factory tours in the country. This is not for kiddies, since there is no touching or straying and you must stand and walk for hours, and there are stairs. However, it is extremely informative and you will witness the making of a piano from start to finish. It is FREE but reservations are essential. Factory tours are offered from September through June (no tours in July and August), every Tuesday from 9:30am - noon, for a group of 15 people, max. To schedule a tour email or call 718-721-2600.

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Concerts for Kids and Families

Check out the churches and music schools in your neighborhood for FREE recitals and concerts! You can find classical music, jazz, chamber music, vocal performances, and more, designed for adults but open to all ages. Children especially like watching other children perform, and recitals are a free way of doing this. Here is an exhaustive (but by no means complete) list of concerts specifically for young people and their families. Note: prices are accurate for Feb. 2013. Some are FREE or a bargain. Higher priced venues offer group discounts.

These are organized with Manhattan first, downtown to uptown, and then the rest of the boroughs.

For ages 3–6:

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For ages 4–12:

  • Carnegie Hall Family Concerts for age 5 – 12 (babies and toddlers welcome if you purchase a full price ticket for them (at $9) and take them out if they are disruptive). Family Concerts run all year long except in the summer. All Family Concerts take place on the weekends, usually starting at 1 or 2 pm.

  • Little Orchestra Society Happy Concerts for ages 6 – 12, at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. This series incorporates multiple art forms to enhance the experience. Offered as a series, single tickets range from $15 to $55.

  • Young People's concerts at the Philharmonic, for ages 6 – 12. See also their KidZone with musical games.

  • Family Saturdays at the NYC Ballet. Dance performances also help us to appreciate music. Artists share insights on music and choreography during a one-hour presentation geared for age 5 and up on Saturday mornings. Tickets are $20.

  • Poppyseed Players at Merkin Hall, 129 W. 67th St., offer lighthearted children's concerts about the Jewish holidays, with children in the cast.

  • Opera for Kids for ages 4 and up, from the Dicapo Opera Company, at 184 East 76th St. in Manhattan, has a children's chorus and a popular series for kids on weekend mornings. Operas are presented in hour-long performances with interactive elements and a Q & A session. Tickets are $24/adult, $12/child.

For teens:

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Family Concerts – for all ages

  • NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (LaGuardia Pl. & Washington Sq. S.) has a children's series called Big Red Chair Family Series with productions from around the world for ages 3 and up. Tickets are $28.

  • Sunday Jazz for kids from the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra (JSYO), talented musicians between the ages of 11 and 18, performing jazz classics every Sunday afternoon. Instead of a cover charge, guests donate $5 to benefit the Jazz Standard Discovery Program. The Jazz Standard is at 116 E. 27th St., Doors open at 1 pm Sundays. Kids' menu available.

  • Turtle Bay Music School, 244 E. 52nd St., has free recitals and concerts. /

  • NY Theater Ballet for Kids and Families – story-based ballet performances that will help children to appreciate music. Performances at Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St. Subscription prices: three ballets are $105/child, $117/ adult, four ballets are $129 /child, $148/adult. Check the calendar.

  • Kaufman Music Center and Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W. 67th St., offer a variety of concerts including FREE recitals.

  • 92nd St. Y Family Concert Series A variety of concerts including Jewish music for ages 6 and up. Tickets are usually $18.00.
  • Jewish Museum Family Concerts, for ages 2 and up (age range varies). Ticket prices: $18/Adult, $13/Children, museum members get a discount.

  • Symphony Space Family Series, on Broadway and 94th St., includes music from around the world and a wide variety of other performances. Ticket prices vary depending on the performance: adult prices might be $10-20, children $8-15, with group discounts.

  • El Museo Del Barrio hosts Super Sábados (Super Saturdays) - the third Saturday of every month is free at this museum, and includes free concerts, storytelling, poetry, film, and hands-on workshops for kids.

  • Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Concert Series. They may offer special programs for very young children. Ticket prices vary from $10 to $25. Student recitals are free.
  • BAM Family Concerts and Kindur Performances for Children in Brooklyn: check their calendar for performances that include images, sounds, and movement. Read a parent's blog about taking a five-year-old to BAM performances.

  • At Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx, kids 12 and under pay $10 for any show (adult prices vary) for musicals, concerts, and other shows, including music from around the world.

  • Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts is on the Queens College campus; check their calendar for family concerts and performances for children.

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FREE concerts:

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