I live in a small, rural town at the time of this writing. We moved here from a suburb of Milwaukee, and I remember feeling apprehensive that I wouldn’t have access to as many musically enriching opportunities for my family upon our move.
But was I ever wrong! We have been in our little town for nearly 8 years and traveled to many other neighboring small towns across our state . I continue to marvel at all the community resources available to myself as a piano teacher, and to my children as music students and lovers-of-music.
I have come to recognize that regardless of the size of the town, a community is often rich with musical experiences. Here are some suggestions for discovering (and participating in) your city’s musical scene.
- Visit your local music store. “Music store” is a bit of a broad term here, but in my own town, I have several places that come to mind as valuable resources for information — including a record store and a store that sells and rents musical instruments and books. Both of these places have bulletin boards that are “hubs” for local musicians and groups posting concerts and performances. These places also sometimes serve as ticket vendors for local symphonies, ballets, music festivals or even “bigger” artists who come to town on occasion. Stores that carry musical instruments may also be open to having your children play them, or have an employee that is willing to demo them for you!
- Check out local schools. Our state university in town has been an awesome way for me to take my children and piano students to a Capella concerts, musical lectures and workshops and performances for all kinds of musicians. Even if you don’t live near a college or university, check out the local high schools and elementary schools. My children enjoy seeing the high school marching band during our small-town parades or attending the annual holiday band concerts put on by the school. Many schools often do talent shows or plays that include musical numbers as well.
- Seek out performance opportunities for your musician. Many communities have small ensembles – bands, orchestras or choirs – through school or in a community group. Often, local businesses or senior living facilities enjoy hosting student musicians as well. (I have had piano recitals for my students at coffee shops and memory care facilities through the years, and I love the exposure it brings to my piano students lives!) Your child may be able to serve as an accompanist for a school or Sunday School choir or even a community theater group. Be sure to also check out your library for “jam sessions” or play-along opportunities. Our local library has a monthly ukulele group that meets to play together, and they welcome all ukulele players — no matter the skill level.
- Attend live music events. The ideas mentioned in #1 and #2 hopefully help you think about places you can go to in your area to learn of public performances, but don’t forget to check out coffee shops, farmers markets and the library for other small-venue performances.
- Look for opportunities to actively LEARN about music. It’s so awesome to attend live performances in order to experience music and understand how relevant music is, but it’s also incredibly enriching to attend events that are specifically geared toward musical learning. If there is a music teachers association local to you, it may offer festivals or workshops specific to you or your child’s learning. Music stores often offer classes or carry lists of music teachers in the area. And, thanks to technology, you can also access my online piano lesson programs no matter where you live!
Even though you may not be aware of it, there is likely a vibrant musical population around you. Seek out these resources to provide musically enriching experiences for your entire family and support the artists in your community!