As a parent, you know the soothing power that classical music can have on your little ones, even on their fussiest days. After all, it certainly relaxes you when you’re feeling stressed. So the next time the family needs to take a deep, calming breath, give the Baby Mozart CD a miss and head to the Toronto Music Garden, a musically-inspired green space on the edge of Lake Ontario designed by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy. This enchanting public garden is an interpretation of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, and it brings the magic of this 18th Century masterpiece to life in the most vibrant, thought-provoking way.
Before gathering the clan, pack a blanket and enough picnic treats for a relaxing afternoon. Once you arrive at the garden, simply follow the signs to start your musical journey, where each of the garden’s six sections represents a movement in the suite. Your kids will laugh and sing as you wind your way along the garden’s swirling pathways, surrounded by abundant wildflowers and lush greenery.
Take your curious youngsters by the hand and gently guide them through the garden’s many moods, from the flowing river of the Prelude to the giant grass steps of the Gigue (the lively Baroque dance that ends the piece), where you are rewarded with a sweeping view of the harbor. Take your time — your kids will be delightfully distracted by the birds and butterflies seemingly pirouetting around them. Now that you’ve made it through each movement, climb the steps of the curved amphitheatre and settle in on the grass before you unpack your picnic lunch and soak up the sun.
Visit during the summer and catch one of the Toronto Music Garden’s free outdoor concerts every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. Introduce your children to a classical suite under a willow tree as they sway to the sounds of the violin and cello, or watch traditional Japanese drummers perform while your kids dance to the infectious beats. This is about as relaxed as a family outing can get–just settle into a comfortable position and find your bliss as you close your eyes and let the music wash over you.
On the ride home, your kids can’t stop tapping and quietly humming now-familiar tunes. Who knows? These gardens could be just the thing to awaken their inner composer.