Photo by Emily D Photography.

With Alison Porter of Lovenotes School of Music

Everyone is born with the ability to be musical. To hear melody and pitch. To feel rhythm.”

But even with tiny music lovers in TOw, Alison Porter, an east end mom and owner of Lovenotes School of Music, knows that you can’t always count on them on to play along with grand plans of going to musical events.

Don’t be deterred.

Alison shares her Top 10 Places in Toronto to take kids five-and-under to experience quality live music.

“These experiences don’t cost an arm and a leg (so you won’t be too disappointed if you arrive late or leave early) and you won’t feel like a total jerk or outcast when your kid decides to have a meltdown/needs to breastfeed/knocks over your beer/etc.”

  1. Farmers’ Markets – Most neighbourhoods have one of these and they can be counted on to provide some form of musical entertainment. A couple of my favourites that have a consistent calibre of live music are: Fresh Wednesdays at City Hall (July-August), the Leslieville Farmers Market (May-Sept), and the St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market (all-year-round). FREE.

  2. Bluegrass Brunch @ The Dakota – I’m not sure if this hipster country bar meant for this event to be for families – but that is what it turned into quickly. Shared platters of bacon and eggs, caesars and juice boxes saddle up to the city’s absolute hottest bluegrass players. Kids dance freely next to stage once they’ve had their fill. FREE w/ brunch.

  3. Civic Events – Glory be the summer and holiday events in our fair city! I’m listing a few here that aren’t overly crowded events. The Distillery District has a curated summer series of great Canadian talent as well as a busy stage during their winter market. Buskerfest always has a music stage of weird and wonderful offerings. Trinity Bellwoods (West Toronto) and East Lynn (East Toronto) also have wonderful offerings of summer concerts and dance festivals. FREE

  4. Music Recitals – If your kiddo has expressed interest in playing a musical instrument, this is a wonderful way for them to see what is possible – watching other kids close to their age is always an inspiration. Look for schools that cater to young children and recitals held in informal spaces like churches or senior’s homes. Most schools hold recitals in May/June. FREE

  5. Art Strollers Classical Concerts – A daytime chamber music for parents and their babies held in the Drake Underground and in west-end parks. They also offer Highchair Hangouts after the concerts at the Drake, which is a prix-fixe menu created by a mom (who’s a chef). Tickets are $12. Lunch not included.

  6. Lovenotes Concert SeriesAnother mid-week, mid-day music series created for parents and their babies. This one features different genres – bluegrass, classical, jazz and singer-songwriters. Concerts are held in various venues around the east-end. FREE Mark your calendars: May 17th – The Barrel Boys (Bluegrass) @ Blue Crow Art Gallery on Gerrard | June 15th – Vc2 (Genre bending cello-duo) @ Coal Mine Theatre on the Danforth.)

  7. Relish Bar Sunday Brunch – This newer to the scene east-end bar is fast becoming a place that musicians want to play and families want to eat. Roots music is what you’ll always find here on a Sunday morning alongside very tasty food. FREE w/brunch.

  8. Morgans Restaurant – This Danforth spot has great live jazz every Sunday afternoon. Some of the regular performers have been spotted holding their kids on stage while singing – so you know it is kid-friendly! FREE w/ food or drinks.

  9. TSO Family ConcertsThis one just barely squeaks onto this list as it is a) not usually free and b) is held at a very prestigious venue -Roy Thompson Hall! That being said, it is a wonderful event to introduce you kiddos to the joys of live classical music. Each event has various kid-friendly elements including penguin quartets, pupeteers, dancers, children’s choirs and more.. Tickets start at $40.

  10. Your Living Room – Toronto is filled with under-employed musicians of extremely high calibre who don’t always have a lot of day gigs. Invite your friends to a concert in your home in the afternoon and ask for a minimum donation from participants to pay the artist a fair wage. Et voila – instant musical experience! These intimate-style concerts can be magical.

Alison Porter is owner of Lovenotes School of Music. Lovenotes has three locations on Gerrard St. East, offering parent/child music classes that build a solid musical foundations for 0-5 year olds in a fun and nurturing environment. She also runs a summer music camps for 4-6 year olds. that includes music, art, outdoor play activities and a daily mini-concert from professional musicians.