The occupational therapy department of Laughlin Children’s Center sees many children with a variety of sensory needs. For this reason, we couldn’t be happier to hear about the upcoming Sensory-Friendly Performance of Music of Flight and Fantasy being put on by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and renown occupational therapist, Roger Ideishi. It will take place on Saturday June 17 at Heinz Hall. This year's theme, Music of Flight and Fantasy, will feature musical selections that celebrate stories, characters, and adventure featuring the music from ET, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, and The Wizard of Oz.
The staff behind this event have truly thought of everything. On their website, they have provided pre-visit materials including social stories with pictures specific to Heinz Hall performances. The amount of detail these materials go into, all in a child-friendly way, is incredible. They include waiting in line, giving the usher your ticket, finding the restroom, going to the Quiet Room (more on that later), and what the child might hear, see, and feel while they are at the event. It allows the child to feel prepared and confident by knowing what to expect when they attend the performance. Recordings of the songs to be played are also available to listen to ahead of time.
On the day of the performance, Heinz Hall is beginning pre-concert activities an hour and 15 minutes prior to the performance. Some individuals with sensory needs feel more comfortable after they have spent some time in a new place, and this early start allows attendees the time they need to settle in. During this time, a variety of activities will be available including a Kinesthetic Room, Musician Meet and Greet, Quiet Room, “Picture This”, Sound Exploratorium, and Fiddlesticks’ Art Room. In the Kinesthetic Room, faculty from the Pittsburgh Ballet will be leading creative movement activities. Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will be available to say hello in the Musician Meet and Greet. The Quiet Room is available for anyone who needs a break from the excitement. It is equipped with bean bag chairs, weighted lap pads and neck rolls, noise cancelling headphones, play mats, and coloring materials. “Picture This” will be an area in the Grand Lobby to take pictures with your favorite character cut outs. Attendees are welcome to dress up like their favorite character and share photos on social media using the hashtag #PSOsensoryfriendly. The Sound Exploratorium will provide opportunities to explore percussion instruments, singing, and movement with the Music Therapy professionals from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Children will be able to create Flight and Fantasy inspired art projects in Fiddlesticks’ Art Room.
While the event is geared toward children, people of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend. Tickets are priced at only $15.00 each. In addition, the Pittsburgh Symphony is allowing full refunds to any families who find they are unable to attend the day of the performance. This applies only to Sensory Friendly performances. In addition to the typical services available at Heinz Hall performances (curbside assistance, accessible entrances and seating, an accessible restroom, and portable FM assistive listening devices and hearing loop), there will be a family restroom, Braille programs, large print programs, ASL interpretation, and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) at the concert.