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Live Music Venues with Kids

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Looking for live classical music performances

Feb 2011

My older daughter has recently started music lessons, and I'm interested in getting her some opportunities to see live music performances -- specifically, for low-key community options, more than things at a symphony hall. Classical, at this point, because that's what her lessons are. I know Crowden sometimes has performances, Berkeley's music department . . . is there somewhere I can find all these kinds of options listed? Other good venues I should keep an eye on? Oakland Mama


Good for you, for wanting to introduce your child to the wonderful world of classical music!

For starters, consider subscribing to the online newsletter 'San Francisco Classical Voice'. It comes once a week, on Tuesdays, and offers news, reviews, previews, listings of upcoming events, etc. It gives a little more emphasis to established, professional groups than to community-based organizations, but it does try to include a few of the latter.

Another idea is to go to the web pages (via googling) of community-based groups that might interest your daughter, and look for upcoming concerts, or subscribe to their newsletters or announcement services. A few that come to mind:

*Prometheus Symphony (5 FREE concerts a year) Kensington Symphony
*Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra *Chora Nova California Bach Society (a chorus)
*Bay Area Baroque Orchestra (3 or 4 kid-friendly, FREE early music performances per year)

Also: There are free noon concerts at UC Berkeley. California State University East Bay, St. Mary's College, Holy Names College, all have orchestras that give concerts several times each year--check their websites for details.

(Full disclosure: those with an asterisk are groups I play or sing in!)

Happy listening! Judy (a Berkeley soprano/violinist)


The SF Chamber Orchestra has FREE family concerts, in Oakland, Berkeley and elsewhere. It's fantastic. http://www.sfchamberorchestra.org/concerts/for-families/ Lisa in Oakland
The SF Chamber Orchestra does wonderful free classical concerts around the Bay Area. The performances are free, but it's nice to become a member and support what they are doing -then you get first dibs to reserve tickets. The do some performance specifically geared to kids. http://www.sfchamberorchestra.org/concerts/mainstage/ music lover
I sing with the San Francisco Choral Society, a large classical music performing organization. We perform 4 times per year and our repertoire ranges from the huge choral/orchestral works such as Verdi's Requiem, to smaller works, sometime commissioned specifically for our group. We offer free tickets to middle and high school students. Check out our webiste at www.sfchoral.org. Or contact me if you would like more information. jody
SFSymphony Concerts for Kids - March 14 etc - see the Symphony website. Tickets are $5 each. I take my own kids out of school to attend, although occasionally they have a school field-trip there, some years. You'll recieve a CD of all the selections, and booklet about the composers. The conductor speakes to the audience, and invites them to conduct along, or clap - very exciting. Wait 'til you hear, 'Star Wars!' Jeanette
We've been taking our son to the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra concerts for years. They are free, take place throughout the Bay Area, and are perfect for young people. The Director is Ben Simon, he is a wonderful teacher and loves bringing classical music to people. The orchestra is supported by grants and memberships, we ultimately joined so we could support such a great resource. www.sfchamberorchestra.org Rebecca
Subscribe to the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra mailing list = http://www.sfchamberorchestra.org They have fun stuff all over town on a regular basis [including a few gigs at The Crowden School]. A. Chevalier
live classical music performances:
cal performances
SF Symphony
Oakland Symphony
Soli Deo Gloria http://www.sdgloria.org/
San Francisco Early Music Society http://www.sfems.org/
.... and the Embarcadero BART station
I have three kids who play classical music and we love the following:

Sundays at Four at the Crowden School. These are great because they are in the afternoon, are not too long, are always amazing concerts, are followed by a reception where you can meet the performers and have some snacks, and are free for kids. Info can be found here, www.crowden.org/Events/sundays.htm

Classical at the Freight. These are great because they are always entertaining and educational. Ben Simon (of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra) is the host; he clearly loves classical music, is full of interesting facts, and he is so much fun. The concerts are not too long and are less than $10. Info can be found here, www.thefreight.org

There are also student performances at the Crowden School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music that are free. Also, the concerts by the local youth symphonies are always great and are usually pretty inexpensive: YPSO (www.ypsomusic.net), OYO (www.oyo.org) , SFSYO (www.sfsymphony.org/community/youthorchestra)

Also, if your daughter is looking for a school where she can play classical music everyday, you might want to check out the Crowden School. All three of my kids have been very happy there. It is a remarkable place. Kathy


I didn't see the original posting for this, but in addition to the great suggestions others have answered with, I wanted to mention that San Francisco Performances puts on great family friendly, affordable shows using the performers that are coming through for their normal, adult-focused performances: http://www.performances.org/education/family.shtml

SF Performances has been doing these family matinees for years and I used to take my kids when they were small. You get to see some amazing performers (not just classical music, but dance, world music and more) in a shortened program and they often incorporate opportunities for audience participation or questions. SF Performances Fan


Restaurant for Kids with Live Music?

Jan 2010

We have a three year old daughter who is reasonably well behaved at restaurants. She loves watching live music and we are trying to find a place that has live music, handles kids, and has the live music start at a reasonable time...6? I know, a tall order. Any ideas? Tim


One place we take our (almost 5 year old) son periodically is Bo's Barbeque in Lafayette. On Saturdays, around 6:15 they have live blues music. Very casual place, big deck when the weather is good, good brisket, great beer selection. The only downside is a shortage of food options for kids that don't like barbeque, and the ice cream machine seems to always be broken. But we have brought in food from the outside and no one has mentioned anything. No cover charge. Bryan in Oakland
O.k., not a restaurant, but something to keep on your radar for this summer, the UC Botanical Garden has a summer live music series that is perfect for parents with kids and you can bring in a packed dinner. The performances are in the Garden's Redwood Grove amphitheater and it's such a beautiful environment, plus if kids ever get antsy, you can just walk around the paths of the grove and have nature take-over the entertaining. Periodically, June to September, shows are 5:30 - 7:00pm. See an example here: http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/program/event_des/Fall%202009/helenere nout.html Christine
Six Degrees on Solano has guitar music on Fri and Sat nights at 7:30. The food is good and varied, but the service tends to be pretty slow, so plan on a long dinner.

Ashkenaz. Not a restaurant exactly, but they do serve good food, and always have live music. All shows are ''all ages.'' Most shows don't start so early, but they often have Sunday musical events (often family-oriented) that start a bit earlier, or even in the afternoon.

Yoshi's in Oakland has Sunday matinees geared to kids/families. This is a show, so you have to buy tickets, but can also get food. R.K.


When we lived in Oakland back when our kids were little, we used to go to Cato's on Piedmont Ave. They had live music a few days a week. It was a very kid-friendly place and has pretty good food and an amazing beer selection. I checked their Website, and they still have live music: Sundays 5:30 to 8:30 pm and Wednesday 6 to 9 pm. here's the link: http://www.mrcato.com
BACHEESOS, in Berkeley, may be just what you are looking for. They have live music on Friday nights starting at 6:30. There may be music on other nights too, you'd have to check with them. It's a family run restaurant with DELICIOUS, very reasonably priced food. And, children are welcome. They have an incredible buffet that works well for both meat eaters and vegetarians. It is only $12.95, and includes a dessert table. (There may be a lower kids' price, but I haven't noticed.) In addition, there is a regular menu, which changes monthly. They are on the corner of San Pablo and Dwight. lori
The Oakland Museum cafe is closed till May because they are renovating, but it's a nice low-key place to see live music up close with children. We have been there many times on a Sunday afternoon for lunch and they'll have a piano/bass duo playing jazz. It's very child friendly. Ginger

Low-cost musical performance for girl scout troup?

Jan 2010

Our girl scout troop of about 8-10 girls would enjoy seeing a live musical performance in the Bay Area sometime this winter/spring. I'm sure there are lots of high quality, low cost offerings out there but I don't know how to tap into them. Any suggestions welcome! Thanks. Christine


Why not look into high school performances of both music and drama? Many are of great quality and definitely fit the low-cost range. Leslie
For high-quality, low cost musical offerings, you just can't beat the productions of Youth Musical Theater Company of Berkeley. Their upcoming production of ''Once Upon A Mattress'' will have aa 6 show run at the Julia Morgan Young People's Center for Performing Arts (Berkeley) on February 20 21, 26, 27, 28. You can get more information about the company and its shows at the YMTC website here at http://ymtcberkeley.org/. If you sign up for their mailing list at the website, you'll get advanced notice of when the tickets go on sale. Student tickets are usually $10, and all seats are reserved, so it pays to order early. Once the tickets go on sale, you can get them from Brown Paper Tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/. Tickets for the event should be going on sale soon. YMTC puts on incredible shows. They always have a live orchestra, and a number of their actor/singers go on to pursue musical theater and theater performance majors in college. You'll be amazed at these talented performers - some of these young actor/singers are going to end up on Broadway! Long-time YMTC fan
Every year we try to see this production at Marin Civic Center: http://www.masqueunit.org/Cinderella.html It is done by a cast of all women, and they do a clever adaptation of a classic. jj
I don't know how ''professional'' you require, or the age range of your scouts, but some options to check out: High school theater. I know that College Prep School in Oakland is doing ''25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee'' at the end of March. The cost is just a suggested donation, very cheap, but obviously it's high school kids. I'm sure other high schools also offer something. CCCT (in El Cerrito) is doing the musical ''Barnum,'' but not until June, so that may be too late for you. Adults perform. http://ccct.org/showslist.html Check out other community theaters, too.

Julia Morgan Theater has some musical offerings coming, including ''Mulan'' next weekend, and ''Godspell'' in February. These are youth players. http://www.juliamorgan.org/#upcoming Also in February, and again, youth performers, is YMTC's performance of ''Once Upon A Mattress.'' http://www.ymtcberkeley.org/

Hope that's a start! R.K.


My personal favorite is San Francisco Performances, which has family matinees that are very inexpensive, especially if you subscribe. www.performances.org. It works out to something like $8 for kids and $12-15 for adults. The regular prices are just a little bit higher than that w/o a subscription. THey are also very nice to their subscribers, and the events are low-key. YOu can also check out their grown-up, evening events. IF you subscribe they also usually have an event that's free-- e.g., some new talent who just won some music award.

Yoshi's also has jazz on Sunday afternoons, something like $5 for kids?

And Hertz Hall (UC Berkeley) has free music performances.

In the summer, you can check out free music in downtown oakland (you can google the oakland parks and rec site), downtown SF (near the Hyatt Regency and Yerba Buena GArdens -- gooogle yerba buena festival or something like that).

Also, just keep an eye on your local paper, or sfgate.org. the events columns have plenty of stuff.


Daytime music at a cafe?

Sept 2008

Does anyone know any cafes in Berkeley or nearby that have live music during the day? My 4-year-old loves to listen, but most places feature music at night. El Cerrito Mom


Try the Cheeseboard on Shattuck and Vine for daytime music. call for exact times: 549-3055 prem
Nabolom, the bakery on Russell near College in Berkeley, has music during the day on weekends. anon

Kid-Friendly daytime music venues

Dec 2007

Looking for east bay venues that have music during the day and are nice to come over with toddlers. I am not looking for kids music lessons, but places where they have jazz, classical or other live music. Any ideas? music loving family


There is jazz piano at the Oakland Museum, Sundays I believe. Around lunchtime in the cafeteria. Call the museum to confirm. Anon
I haven't been yet, but I hear that Ashkenaz has a weekly Sunday morning jam that is very kid-friendly. Lisa in Oakland

Live Irish Music with baby

March 2007

I'm looking for any live Irish music being performed on Saturday March 17th that I could bring my 1 year old son to. I want to introduce him to his Irish heritage in a way he would enjoy as he loves music. I would prefer outdoors but I'll take any suggestions other than a pub. I don't mind paying and I would prefer East Bay or North Bay--definately NOT SF.I know about the Habitot thing but I'm worried that it might be very crowded so I'm not sure about going there.Thanks in advance, Bridget


There's a great Celtic music band called Golden Bough who are playing several dates in the Bay Area in March. Check out their schedule here: http://www.goldenboughmusic.com/Calendar/calendar2007.htm They're in Sunnyvale on St. Patrick's Day, but in Moraga the day before, and that show is with Irish dancers! Lori
I know you said no pubs, but in case you change your mind... the Starry Plough on Shattuck (between Ashby & Alcatraz I think) is really fun on St. Patrick's day - they usually have kids doing the Irish dancing so I am pretty certain you could take your one year old, but would recommend calling to check.

Live music for a two year old?

Dec 2005

Hi During September I took my almost 2yo son to Albany ''Music in the Park''. My son enjoyed it very much and loved watching the players of the different instruments. Since it was over I can't find anywhere to take him where we can go close to the band (not being too loud) and see the different players. Does any one know where I can take him to see live music in the afternoon or weekends (mornings he is in daycare)? Thanks


La Pena in Berkeley has a regular weekend children's concert series. Ashkenaz concerts are always open to all ages. have fun! Julie
Sunday afternoon concerts at the Ashkenaz are great! jen
We have a 2 year old as well. We've had good luck with several musical venues in Berkeley:
Ashkenaz (volume can vary substantially from one artist to another)
Freight and Salvage
Epic Arts

Summertime brings lots of outdoor concerts, oftentimes free through park and rec departments, and we have taken our daughter to a few multi-day music events as well over the past few summers. We read whatever the local park and rec departments put out and keep an eye out for other potentially interesting events.

The Oakland Symphony does children's concerts from time to time, too.

Good luck! I look forward to reading the other answers to your question--there must be more places for kids to hear music! Ann


LIve music with baby

July 2004

My husband & I are wanting to expose our 1 year old son to some live music performances. During the day or early evening would be best. Does anyone have any recommendations? Seems like most things are at night. It doesn't have to be for kids specifically, although that would be nice, too. Thanks music lover


Hello, Cal Performances has a ''Family Fare'' matinee series: http://www.calperfs.berkeley.edu/presents/season/2004/ family_fare/

It's great. This year they have Dan Zanes booked, and honestly he's the best kids' music performer going right now. Check out his ''Night Music'' and you will be hooked. enjoy! anon


It's a bit of a drive, but San Gregorio Store (http://www.sangregoriostore.com) just south of Half Moon Bay has fun, family-friendly (and free!) music on Saturdays and Sundays (usually an 11am-1pm and a 2-5pm set, so very kid- friendly). Styles range from folk to bluegrass to easy-going rock and roll. There are always families there, dancing and general roaming around is not only tolerated but encouraged and there are real live cows in the pasture across the street. It's one of my favorite places to see live music, with or without a child. If you want to see something specifically for kids, go on a day when Lane Murchison / Lane & the Badass Chickenbones are playing - Lane teaches preschool music for a living and always throws a few great kids' songs into his set. Jeni
We go regularly with our 16-month-old to the live bluegrass at Jupiter in Berkeley, Sundays 4:00-7:00. I highly recommend it. jtownson
Hayward offers free band concerts in a park (with playground) on Sunday afternoons in July: http://www.ci.hayward.ca.us/news.shtm. Both Berkeley and Oakland have weekly daytime (weekday), outdoor summer concert programs as well -- I've seen posters around but don't know the details. robin
Ashkenaz on San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley is all ages all the time and I have seen babies, toddlers and kids there as late as 11 Pm but if you look on their calendar they usually have one children's venue a month and several shows that start more early-ish. Happy dancing! I wish I had gone sooner with my kids. http://www.askenaz.org anon.
How about lunchtime jazz at Cheese Board pizza?
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