It is always a balance planning a travel itinerary for children. The kids want to play; my husband and I want them to experience some of the great culture Europe has to offer. The kids can also quickly grow tired of sightseeing, and their memory of being dragged through one art museum after another becomes a hazy blur. They want to be engaged and have fun participating in child-appropriate fare. This is exactly why were thrilled to participate in Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest’s latest offering: a children’s music program (for kids five to 12).
On a recent Saturday morning, after a delicious breakfast at Gresham Restaurant, we gathered in one of the event rooms at the hotel to attend a children’s music class taught by local Hungarian musicians/music teachers. It was a small and intimate exploration of sound.
The kids learned about rhythm and percussion. They drew, assembled their own shakers out of “Kinder Eggs,” made music, and then listened to some local Hungarian musicians play. The program lasted an hour, the perfect amount of time, and then we had some snacks (and by snacks, I mean Four Seasons chef exquisitely prepared, kid-friendly sweets and hot chocolate) before Part II of our musical extravaganza.
After class, we climbed into a taxi, which took us to the Hungarian State Opera House, where we attended a children’s music concert. The opera house is an ornate Baroque masterpiece, built in 1884 by Miklós Ybl, a prominent 19th century Hungarian architect. We sat with our kids on the marble steps of a gallery filled with instruments, musicians and an audience of mostly local families. The spoken part of the program was in Hungarian, which my kids found fun/funny to listen to. But of course, when pieces were played, the lovely sound echoing through the great hall was universal.
My children particularly enjoyed the last section of the concert where they were encouraged to become the players themselves. It was a cacophony of sound, with kids of all ages banging gongs and bashing symbols, pounding drums and pinging xylophones. Being surrounded by such rich musical history in such an extraordinary space—gilded with gold, embellished with painted ceiling murals, and filled with the excitement and joy of children creating music—was an experience we all will always remember. (That, and, of course, the cookies!)
Lee Rose Emery is an actress, writer and editor-in-chief of the award-winning blog, LA City Mom, “tips from the carpool lane…”, based in Los Angeles, California. Lee is currently living in Prague, the Czech Republic, with her husband, eight-year-old son and daughter, 11. Stay tuned for more chronicles of her European family adventures.
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