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A Parent’s Review: Seattle Symphony Soundbridge

Playing the violin at Soundbridge

Erika M. Kapur

Research shows that music provides myriad benefits for all of us. Whether you view music as balm for the soul or an important piece of a child's education, what better way to expose our children to music than with hands-on exploration?

The Seattle Symphony has dedicated itself to musical education and exploration through Soundbridge, its musical discovery center in the base of Benaroya Hall.

Recently, my daughters and I took advantage of their free Friday afternoons and went to check out the "Musical Storytime" activity along with the discovery center.

Soundbridge suggests "Musical Storytime" for kids ages 2 to 5, but we found that the story, group songs, dancing, and child participation appealed to my 6-year-old as well. The afternoon we visited, the story was Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. My 3-year-old loved that she got to raise her hand and suggest what kind of animals we'd be during the "freeze dance."

Even though we've visited Soundbridge several times before, we easily spent the entire afternoon learning about the science of sound, discovering new facts about music and experimenting with the many instruments they provide for hands-on exposure. We were all quite surprised when my 3-year-old managed to belt out a clear, loud French horn note despite her small size. And my 6-year-old is very taken with the violin, now that she's been able to try playing one. If they don't have all of the instruments out to play when you are there, feel free to ask. The staff at Soundbridge are very accommodating and knowledgeable.

My 6-year-old's favorite activity was the sound wave monitor, which displays a graphical depiction of each sound as it's made. We all had fun seeing if we could spot the wave differences between high and low, and loud and soft sounds. Then we learned how the ear processes sound waves by looking at the foot-tall model of the inner ear. (These activities can be found on the "Science of Sound" wall inside the classroom.)

The one challenge with this outing is parking. The parking garage in the basement of Benaroya Hall is very convenient; however, if you stay longer than two hours, it's quite expensive, so spend some time checking prices before you choose your garage.

To make it easier to take advantage of this musical treasure, consider carpooling, and you can all spend a day exploring your inner musician.



Where: Benaroya Hall, corner of Second Avenue and Union Street, Seattle. The Soundbridge entrance is on the Second Avenue side.

When: Open Sunday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Musical Storytime” runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Cost: Adults $5, children 5 to 18 $5, children under 5 free with adult admission; Friday from noon to 4 p.m. is free. Soundbridge admission is also free with the purchase of any ticket to the Seattle Symphony's Tiny Tots or Discover Music concerts. Memberships are available.

Contact: 206-336-6600; Soundbridge.org.

Erika M. Kapur is a Seattle-area freelance writer and mother of two who are already enthralled with music. 

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