I loved bringing my daughter to open venues from when she was an infant until, well, I still love going with her to open venues. She’s 29. First, let’s clarify what an open venue is. It is any place where live music is being played for everyone’s pleasure, whether as an outdoor concert or at a casual restaurant. We have so many places in this area that offer good music, good food and good times as well as being “kid friendly.” Being kid friendly does mean there is some responsibility on the adult’s part to monitor their child’s behavior so the place stays that way. Let’s explore that.

As a musician myself, I enjoy when there are children in the audience. If you’ve been reading my articles you know that I am all about music bringing people together and bringing people joy. And, I believe we should share our love of music with our children. Teaching children to love music also means teaching them to respect music and those who are playing it.

Recently, I was at an outdoor venue where there were many young families having a good time. The children were dancing with other children as well as with their parents or any other adult who wanted to dance with them. What fun! Then, it happened. A child ran right across the front of where the band was playing. The teacher in me took in a breath. I was just hoping the child didn’t trip over a wire and get hurt, along with knocking out the band’s electricity. Luckily, that didn’t happen. But, what also didn’t happen was an adult walking up to the child to explain why they should not run in the area where the band is set up. Because no boundary had been set, by parents or the band, children kept running in that area not knowing it was something they shouldn’t do.

Children do not know what their boundaries are unless we set them. If they’ve never been to a place where a live band is playing, they don’t just automatically know to stay away from the instruments. It is something we teach. My father would often phrase things in a way that would make me think. In that instance, I probably would have been asked, “Maryann, do you see anyone else just running in front of the band?” At that point, I would see that people didn’t do that and we would have a discussion.

In an environment with music, talk to your child about the band and the instruments. Show them the area and discuss where it is safe to play and what area they should stay away from. Be sure to explain to them why. The main reason is someone can get hurt by tripping over a wire. Or, a band member who is totally into the song may not notice the child and fall over him or her. Although this isn’t a show where you should be quiet and listen, it is a good idea to take the time to listen to at least one song with your child. Talk with them about why you like the music. Ask them what they like about it. Dance with your child.

When the band is on break, see if you can talk with one of the musicians. Introduce your child. That musician may show the child their guitar or bass. You can teach your child to show appreciation by saying, “I really like your music.” (Maybe, you can have your child put a tip in the tip jar….??)

Take advantage of all the opportunities in our area to listen to live music – for FREE! Check out the shows on Clearwater Beach, on the Tarpon docks, Downtown Dunedin and Safety Harbor. Safety Harbor has a Music Night on the third Friday of every month. You can stroll Main Street and listen to the various performers along the way. Libraries have many shows for children. Check the schedule for when you can see a Music with Mar. performance or Mr. Brad.

At another time, you might take your child to a show where they are supposed to sit and listen. Talk with them about the different types of performances. And, of course, wait until they are old enough to handle that. You can be setting in place, as I did, a lifelong love of enjoying music together.

Maryann can be found at Palm Harbor Recreation Center every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. teaching the Music with Mar classes. Maryann can be reached by email at mar@musicwithmar.com. For daily brain facts, please like her Facebook page: Music with Mar., Inc. or, visit the website www.musicwithmar.com.

Maryann Harman is founder of Music with Mar., Inc.