Cushion Concerts in Oxford - Introduction to music for kids Bubbablueandme

A Cushion Concert introduction to the trombone

I’ve been meaning to take N back to another Cushion Concert for ages but it’s never happened.  But the I was determined to get there a second time.

The Cushion Concerts are held in Oxford at the Jacqueline Du Pre building on Sundays once a month, each one focuses on a different instrument.  Some well known, others are more obscure.  And they have sessions for under and over fives.

The latest one was the trombone.  I thought that would be a good instrument for N to see and hear (plus his name was inspired by a trombone player in one of the orchestras I used to play in!).

Cushion Concerts in Oxford - Introduction to music for kids Bubbablueandme

Going to Oxford always means a journey on the park and ride bus which is exciting enough for N.  We even got to sit on the top of the double decker at the front.

Tic Toc Cafe break
Treat at Tic Toc Cafe before the concert

It’s only a short walk to St Hilda’s college where the concerts are held.  On the way there’s always interesting doorways, plaques, and odd art sculptures in gardens and church frontages to look at.

There’s also the river, although it’s not the most attractive place to view it.  Not that that bothers N, who was quite happy asking about the life savers, and punts.

ducks coming to meet us at St Hildas
We’re like homing beacons for birds. First next door’s chickens, and next the ducks

The Cushion Concert itself was quite quiet.  I always worry there’ll not be tickets left if we don’t pay in advance, but although the session before ours had more people in, ours only had a few families.

waiting for the cushion concert to start

The structure is based on Rozy and Mr Cello.  So the first part of the concert is getting the children to understand the voice is an instrument, the noises we can make, and that it’s all about vibrations.  How the cello sounds and is different.  We clapped out rhythms, sang songs, practised fast and slow, quiet and louder.  Then you sing to call in the instrument on show.

N seemed to really like the trombone.  He just kept looking and looking.  The trombonist explained how you blow raspberries in the mouthpiece to make it sound, how the condensation comes out, the different notes on the slide positions and more.  All in an easy way for children to understand.

And of course you get to hear some music, and stomp or clap along.  I told N about the (probably most) well known trombone piece which used to be the Johnny Briggs tv theme tune beforehand, so I was really pleased they played it.  How couldn’t they really?!  It’s a classic piece of trombone music.

The great thing about cushion concerts (for the kids and parents anyway), is that the children are encouraged to interact, shout out answers, ask questions, sing and dance along.  Not that N does – any time we were asked to get up and do actions, he refused, sit on the floor sliding round to hide behind me.  Very annoying, although not really surprising, because as a child, I’d never have joined in either!

After the concert’s over, the children can meet , touch and play Mr Cello or the trombone.  Some are right in there, but N just wanted to leave.

He did say he really enjoyed the concert, he liked the music, although he did tease me and pretend he’d see a violin and trumpet!

playing the piano
Couldn’t resist playing the piano in the foyer

Afterwards, we walked back up into Oxford centre, and found somewhere to have lunch.

punts on the river isis

N chose the Queens Road Café which is a tad on the pricy side for a quick lunch stop.  Of course, as per usual despite me checking before we left the concert venue and when we arrived, N decided that as soon as food arrived he wanted the toilet.  Not once, but twice!

queens lane coffee house
Queens lane coffee house interior
playing with salt and pepper shakers

He had a huge portion of scrambled eggs on toast (even though I asked for a child size portion), and my panini was really good. The café was nearly full for the Sunday lunch or brunch rush, so it took some time.  I do think more cafes should have if not a children’s menu, at least be a bit more accommodating towards requests for half size or smaller portions.  Although I’m not sure the foreign waitress really took in what I’d asked for…she and a colleague were more interested in what they’d been up to the night before.  Very rude!

Before catching the bus home, we decided to check out Hardy’s, a fabulous traditional style sweet shop.  I couldn’t believe out of all the choice in the shop, N went straight for the first thing he saw…chocolate coins.  Dull.  It’s definitely my kind of shop and they were lovely about me taking photos as well.

Hardys sweet shop Oxford

I’d have liked to have gone down by the river or for a bit more of a wander round Oxford, but the farm was calling N, and I needed to get back and make tea (why does my whole life revolve around meal times!?).

oxford buildings
looking for the bus
sleeping boy on the bus

If you’re in or near Oxford and have children, do check out the Cushion Concerts, or search for something similar near you.

Look out for book and story themed activities at the Story Museum as an alternative.

Do you have any similar children’s concerts near you?

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  1. This looks amazing and your little one exhausted at the end shows just how much fun he had. Bless him. I love introducing kids to music. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again this week for another great round of #sharewithme

  2. I wish we had one of these up North near us as it looks so much fun. What a great way for children to learn different instruments and include the extra aspects of learning through fun and play x

    1. It’s worth looking out for orchestras in the area because sometimes they do have special sessions for kids. They’re just very hard to find out about

  3. This is such a fab idea.My 3 kids are interested in music, ukulele, keyboard and drum but I’m not so it can be very difficult to help them, especially tuning in a ukuele.

    1. Wow, a whole band! Ukelele seems really popular in schools now, although N has to wait a couple of years for school music lessons. Drums would be cool though – he’s a bit of a rock fan, although he seems more interested in guitar or piano at the moment.

  4. Ahhh what a lovely day out! I`ve never heard of a childrens concert like this, I`ll have to take a look online if theres anything like this near to us…such an interesting idea! x

  5. The cushion concert sounds and looks like a fab idea and what a wonderful experience! It’s so good they encourage the children to interact, too! Sounds lovely. And the traditional sweet shop looks AMAZING! Yum! I loveee chocolate coins, good choice N! 🙂 xx

  6. What a great idea, I love this if only there was something similar local to us! I think I am going to google later just to check it out, but it sounds like it might be a one of a kind, kind of thing. Monkey would have gone straight for the chocolate coins as well, they are his favourite! xx

    1. Big cities probably have them, it’s just finding them. Worth checking out Christmas shows because we’re at one on Sunday, and they’ve arrange pre-show activities for children which involve meeting the instruments too.

  7. I actually don’t know if we have any children concerts in our town. I doubt it. I never bring them anywhere to be honest other than cinema or town or for lunch/dinner. There’s not much to do.

  8. We used to take our kids to the cushion concerts in Oxford when they were younger too. I quite enjoyed them but not sure how much they got from them. They both learn instruments now though even if practise time is rather stressful.

    1. Ah yes, I remember hating practice. I was very slack, and looking back, in particular for my grade 8, if I’d practised just one extra day a week, I might have got those 4 extra points for distinction!

  9. This is such a great idea! Looks like so much fun and also such an inspiring experience. Great pictures by the way. That sweet shop looks so cute!

  10. I agree with everybody on the comments. It’s such a fun activities for kids. Even though I don’t have any of my own but I would definitely as my big brother and his children to go out somewhere and have fun. I rarely get to spend time with them. Thanks for sharing <3

  11. Oh Wow this looks like such fun! I like the idea of a cushion concert. Sounds comfy! We love to have eggs on toast when we eats out too! I have poached my daughter has scrambled

    Angela x

  12. Interactive activities and ‘concerts’ are exactly what kids need! The nightmare of trying to keep them still at grown up events shouldn’t be replicated at events for children x

  13. These concerts sound a really great idea. I wish there was something like that in Essex where I live as it’s hard getting my children to go to anything that involves travel!x

    1. I struggle with N now. For a 45 minute concert, it’s an hour drive/bus ride both ways. We’ve got a really great little arts centre, but the local orchestra doesn’t do anything for kids.

  14. Great post – I think it’s a shame that there really isn’t much like this nearby for us. I do have to say I like the idea of my boys learning music so I hope something will crop up soon 🙂

    1. I’ve been looking round in the other direction near me, and I’ve only spotted a one off concert. It’s a shame there aren’t more.

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