Welcome to the Surprise Party Parent Guide! Explore the activities below with your child before arriving at Symphony Center – we’ve broken them down by activity length so you can prepare on your own schedule.

2-minute activity

1. Listen to the beginning of Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, Mvt. 2

2. Tell your child that this symphony is nicknamed the Surprise symphony. Ask them why they think the music is surprising.

Is it how loud or soft the music is playing? Is it the way that the instruments play the music.

3. Listen to it again to identify the surprising moments!

5-minute activity

1. Ask your child what they think is important at a celebration or surprise party.

Music? Dancing? Gifts?

2. Listen to the following songs on the playlist on Spotify, or on SoundCloud.

“Mambo” from West Side Story

Festive Overture

Waltz from Die Fledermaus

3. While listening, have your child imagine a celebration or surprise party where the music would be played. Have them imagine the guests, decorations, and other elements you identified at the beginning of the activity.

4. Have your child draw a picture of the party. If you have time, listen to the other songs on the playlist!

10-minute activity

1. Discuss with your child the elements of an invitation—who, what, where, when, why.

2. Ask your child what they might hear at a concert celebrating the CSO’s 125th

  • If they guess “Happy Birthday,” tell them they are correct!
  • Listen to Happy Birthday Variations by John Williams
  • Follow the listening map to highlight the instrument families in the orchestra
  • Discuss with your child how each instrument family creates a whole, beautiful, orchestral sound – use the listening map as a guide!
  • Define what an orchestra is and explain the role of the conductor.

Arts and crafts activity

1. Tell your child that the CSO is celebrating its 125th birthday.

2. Ask your child:

  • What can we give people or organization when they are celebrating an anniversary or birthday?
  • Why is giving a birthday card important?

3. Have students listen to the music excerpts for this concert via a playlist on Spotify, or on SoundCloud.

4. While listening, have your child create a birthday card for the orchestra. Use and print this template as a starting point.

Each birthday card should include:

  • A birthday greeting to the orchestra
  • Why the orchestra is important to our community
  • What excites them the most about attending the concert
    Is it the music? A certain instrument family? Being in Orchestra Hall?
  • What piece of music they are most excited to hear and why
    What is it about the music that excites you?