Instill a Love of Music at Local Venues

When my oldest son was two, his favorite song was “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads. He loved the bass and would nod his head along to the beat while “playing” his Elmo guitar. I have to admit, it was pretty adorable to see a diapered toddler repeating the lyrics by memory, to anyone who would listen: “I can’t seem to face up to the facts/I’m tense and nervous and I/Can’t relax.” As he grew older, I tried to instill a love of music at local venues by taking him to concerts and musical performances whenever I could. One of my favorite memories is when we saw Jack Johnson during one of our date nights. He was in sixth grade – that weird, pre-teen time – yet he was still so happy to be with his mom at a concert.

Local music venues

Today, my son is 18, and while he would much prefer to go on a date night with his girlfriend, he is still passionate about music. While you wait for winter to officially thaw, check out one of these kid-friendly, indoor music venues with your little one! Who knows, it might be the beginning of a lifelong love of music – and a fun activity you can both enjoy.

Midwest Young Artists Conservatory
878 Lyster Road, Highwood | (847) 926-9898

The Midwest Young Artists Conservatory is a pre-college music school that hosts a variety of concerts throughout the year, from chamber music to choral to jazz. Although the music might not be appropriate for very young children (unless they can sit quietly for an extended period of time), older children will love seeing their talented peers perform in its historic rehearsal space, a former Army Stockade that was designed by Holabird and Roche, the world-famous Chicago architectural firm. Families are welcome to attend rehearsals or free Sunday afternoon recitals.


David Adler Music and Arts Center
1700 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville | (847) 367-0707

The David Adler Music and Arts Center is located in the historic home of architect David Adler, and is dedicated to promoting music and the arts as an integral part of everyday life. In addition to offering music lessons and art classes, the Center hosts a concert series where it presents a different faculty or guest artist or ensemble every month. Refreshments and an opportunity to meet the musicians follow each concert.


Music Institute of Chicago
40 East Old Mill Road, Lake Forest | (847) 905-1500 ext. 191

Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to become one of the largest and most respected community music schools in the nation. Public performances are in Nichols Concert Hall, a magnificently restored and acoustically-exceptional landmark building in East Evanston. These programs provide opportunities for the public to experience world-class artists, artists-in-residence and faculty, student and other special events.


Worth the trip:

Old Town School of Folk Music – Kids’ Concerts
4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago | (773) 728-6000

While it’s known for its wide array of music classes and concerts, Old Town School of Folk Music hosts a series of concerts and events designed just for kids. Teens ages 13-19 can attend the monthly Open Mic session, where they can perform in front of a real, live audience. Little ones will love the “Playdate” kids concerts, and on Friday nights, the school transforms into a Global Dance Party.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
20 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | (312) 294-3000

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is renowned as one of the most respected orchestras in the world. Children ages 5 and up are invited to Family Matinees, where they can have the one-of-a-kind experience of hearing the CSO in fun, engaging programs geared toward young people. Each concert is preceded by a set of pre-concert activities in the Rotunda at Symphony Center, beginning one hour before concert time.


Do you have any favorite kid-friendly, indoor music venues? Tell us about them in a comment below!


About Laura Otto 26 Articles
Laura Otto is an associate professor at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, where she teaches courses in journalism, writing for new media and creative writing. She lives in Vernon Hills with her husband, Matt, and three kids: Cole (19), Maya (7) and Shane (4). When she isn’t grading papers or scrubbing crayon off the walls, she can be found playing Downton Abbey trivia games on Facebook or doodling all over her kids’ homework.

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