What's Free or Cheap in NYC?
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"Two-fers" are discounts that allow you to purchase half-price tickets at the box office (or a similar deal). Anyone can get them by sending a SASE to School Theater Ticket Program, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1113, New York, NY 10036, with a written request telling them how many you want (why not ask for a dozen) and to which type of events -- such as Broadway plays or the New York City Opera.
Theatreworks USA is America's largest theatre for young and family audiences. Their plays, musicals, and guest artists tour all over the United States, to at least 44 states every year!
Please remember Etiquette for Live Performances.
See also the various local Councils on the Arts.
Carnegie Hall's Digital Library offers curriculum materials – FREE – browse by grade level, skills and concepts, musical genres, instruments
Online free – Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, by Benjamin Britten.
The Boys Clubs offer music lessons at a bargain rate. The one on West 10th Street in the East Village is recommended. Fee is $5 for membership and $25 to register for music lessons. The cycle starts the first week in October (October 5th in 2015). That year there was a waiting list for guitar and drums so one student opted for the violin.
Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series is free, and takes place in recital halls, libraries, schools, and stages in neighborhoods all over the city (Nov. and Dec. 2005 venues were in Brooklyn and Manhattan and the Bronx). For info see the website or contact the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall at (212) 903-9670 or e-mail email@example.com.
Middle School and High School students can get tickets (up to two each) to shows, concerts, dances, theater, exhibits, for $5.00 or less and all they need is school ID or proof of age (13-18). Monday-Thursday they can get two tickets for $5 (at least one must be used by the student but the other may be used by an adult), weekends it’s one ticket for $5, purchasable at least one day in advance. Five teens buying tickets together get a free sixth ticket. Museum exhibition tickets are often free. For current listings, check out the High5tix website or call their hotline at (212) Hi5-TKTS ((212) 445-8587). Listings are also published and distributed around town. Pick up a copy at the NYPL, Ticketmaster, or subscribe online.
NYC Coalition of Community Schools of the Arts Search this website for a list of music schools in your area. All of the city’s community arts schools, like Greenwich House, Bloomingdale, and the Brooklyn Conservatory, offer regular recitals by students, which young children tend to find inspiring. Recitals are free.
The Theatre Development Fund (TDF) is dedicated to encouraging and enabling diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance in all their venues. They offer low-cost admission to many performances around town. They run the popular TKTS booth in Times Square. For cheap live performances, starting from free and $5 and up, see their expanded listings
In addition, they have special programs Talking Hands and Audio Describe! -- Arts-in-Education programs for elementary and secondary school students with hearing or vision loss in the tri-State area. Talking Hands provides access to the theatre for these mostly first-time theatergoers with hearing loss by simultaneously providing sign language interpretation and open captioning at performances of Broadway productions. Audio Describe! offers a similar opportunity for students who are blind or low vision by giving them access to audio described performances of Broadway shows.
They are happy to include homeschoolers. Proof of disability is requested (hearing/vision test results, doctor’s note etc.). They require a student/teacher ratio of one teacher to at least three students. Their next performances will be in fall 2008 and we will post information as it becomes available.
The InterSchool Orchestra of NY offers a variety of events at venues around the city, including concerts, auditing master classes, and illustrated lectures. Many are free, some require a fee or donation.
Located in lower Manhattan at 47 Great Jones St, 3rd fl, CultureHub offers free summer programs to teens ages 15-20, in the arts and technology: music, performance art, game design, coding, and more. Application deadline in 2016 is May 4th. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 917 463 391.
Washington Heights Dance Project is a community-based dance program that provides high quality, affordable, dance classes to children of all backgrounds. The fee structure is pay-what-you-can.
The NYU Children’s Chorus, located on the NYU campus in lower Manhattan, is free, and attracts a lot of homeschoolers. This choir meets on Tuesday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Loewe Theater (35 W. 4th St.), accessed through the Education Building near the southeast corner of Washington Square Park. There are no auditions, open to ages 5-13 who are willing to work hard and have a desire to sing. The program includes a December recital. For info email the director, Professor Elaine Gates, at email@example.com or call (631) 261-2783. You may also call the music department office at (212) 998-5424.
On Saturdays, , 25 West 14th Street, offers free music classes including drumming circles, guitar, ukelele, recording, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Acoustic series of international rhythm and sounds in the colonnade of the Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17 St at 7th Ave., (212) 620-5000. Sat and Sun afternoons, free.
The Children's Aid Society (main office at 105 East 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010, (212) 949-4800) operates a non-profit chorus. The Children's Aid Society Chorus is comprised of 350 children, ages 5-18, in fourteen vocal ensembles and two instrumental groups, open to all children who love to sing. No formal voice training or musical experience is required. For more information or to schedule an audition, call (212) 533-1675. Training is located in neighborhoods from Greenwich Village to Washington Hts. and the Bronx.
The Bryant Park Fall Festival offers a variety of FREE concerts in September, starting at 6pm each evening. Bryant Park is between 40th and 42nd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.
The Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st St, (212) 757-3318, offers events, concerts, and classes in traditional Irish music and dance, some of them free.
Carnegie Hall, at 57th St. and 7th Ave., has weekend afternoon family concerts at a fee of $9 per person. The McGraw-Hill Companies CarnegieKids concerts are perfect for kids ages four to six (in pre-k and kindergarten). Children enter into the "Sound Playground" with engaging, imaginative host-musicians Mark Stewart and Rob Schwimmer of Polygraph Lounge, exploring the question "What is a sound maker?" Kids sing, create original music, and experience a variety of inventive instruments during these 45-minute concerts held in Carnegie Hall's intimate Kaplan Space.
Concerts begin at 10 AM and 11:30 AM on Sun, Oct 26--Thurs, Oct 30 and in Spring 2009 on Tues, Mar 24--Fri, Apr 3. Only $6 per ticket!
Tickets are offered by mail order at CarnegieKids or call CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, or visit the Box Office at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue. Carnegie Hall also sponsors free neighborhood concertsfree neighborhood concerts.
Not only can your child get free vocal training from a world-class opera company, but they can also get paid for it! The Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus , located in Lincoln Center, accepts youngsters ages 6-10 or 11. Children are accepted by audition, and receive free 90- minute to two-hour classes weekly. When roles come up, they audition for those (usually after at least a year of training). Those roles require long rehearsals and performances (both are paid, perhaps $25/performance). To try out for the Chorus, you must make a reservation for your child's audition by calling the Director of the Children's Chorus, Anthony Piccolo, at 212-799-3100 ext. 2919. The audition song has traditionally been "Happy Birthday" – to see if the child can hold that high note.
One parent's review: "The chance to work at the Met is first of all WORK--lots of it and demanding. But it is an amazing place where the greats of the opera world work with and alongside the kids. It is recommended that children who love opera begin at six or soon thereafter – but slightly older kids may audition at the discretion of the director--mine did. They will not be babied--they are working professionals and are expected to perform as such."
Tuition-free jazz instruction for middle school students at Lincoln Center. For info and eligibility requirements go to the website or call 212-258-9789. The contact for this program is Asata Viteri, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 258-9879.
If you have a child who is ready to take their musical study to the next level, Juilliard's Music Advancement Program (MAP) might be the next step. This Saturday instrument instruction program offers lessons to children ages 8-14 who reside in the tri-state area. Eligible applicants must have played their instrument for at least two years and reached an intermediate to advanced level. Annual tuition is offered on a sliding scale and based upon a family's ability to pay. For more information or to apply visit the website.
The New York City Opera Company functions similarly to the Metropolitan Children’s Chorus, although parents say this director is a gentler sort. Joining a professional children's chorus is a serious commitment and may include performing at other venues as well. This is an ideal activity for homeschoolers who don't have to deal with a school's resentment when a child misses classes, perhaps for several weeks in a row. Boys and girls ages 7-13 may audition by singing "Happy Birthday" in low, medium, and high keys. They are looking for a clear voice that can carry a tune. Children who are selected receive free training in “classical singing technique, operatic style, foreign languages, stagecraft, and the skills to work safely and efficiently in an otherwise adult community.” The study of opera also teaches mythology and classic literature such as Shakespeare, as well as the skills needed to take direction and work as a member of a team. Classes are held on Monday afternoons in the basement of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. For more info contact Anthony Piccolo, Director of NYCO Children's Chorus, at (212) 870-4045.
New York City Opera Learning Center, New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, (212) 870-5570. Kids ages 6 to 12 interact with City Opera singers, musicians, and staff to learn about the opera world in these inexpensive hourlong family workshops, which include: The Girl of the Golden West, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Cinderella. $5.
New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, (212) 875-5030. Four Saturdays a year, the orchestra has Young Peoples Concerts, which focus on one section of the orchestra at a time. Before each concert, kids can play with instruments, make their own, and meet musicians in a program called Kidzone. Young Peoples concerts are $5–$23. Their Music for All Ages program includes concerts for preschoolers.
You can also attend the NYPhil morning rehearsals. Open Rehearsals usually begin at 9:45 a.m. in Avery Fisher, and end about 12:30 p.m. (sometimes 1 p.m., at the discretion of the conductor). Watch the New York Philharmonic at work, and see how a piece of music is shaped and polished by the conductor and the musicians. Tickets are $15. Order online or by phone for an extra $2 per ticket or buy them at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office.
Phil Teens offers $10 tickets to Inside the Music and Hear & Now concerts -- two great ways to introduce teens to classical music. One guest of any age can attend at the same price with the purchase of each Phil Teen ticket.
Also check out New York Philharmonic Kidzone. Information on various instruments, musicians, and composers, plus make your own instrument, and more.
The Juilliard School, on Lincoln Center’s upper level walkway (W. 65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam) has an annual schedule of concerts. Tickets are mostly free or $15.00. Performances are given by graduating Julliard students whose work is every bit as good as top-notch professionals.
New York City Ballet, Samuel B. and David Rose Building, Lincoln Center, (212) 870-4074. Family Insights is a 45-minute pre-performance program for kids 6 and up, in which dancers, musicians, and other artists answer questions in the rehearsal studios. Ballet Fundamentals has dancers and musicians covering ballet history, choreography, technique, and production. There’s also Family Fanfare and Ballet for Young People. Tickets are $5 to $12.
Musica Bella is an orchestra of professional musicians who perform classical and chamber music concerts with operatic and instrumental solos by leading artists. All fees are by donation (suggested $10 donation). The majority of concerts take place at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 152 W. 71st Street (between Broadway and Columbus Aves.), in Manhattan. See the website for their current schedule.
Symphony Space, Broadway at 93rd St, has a bunch of family programs including their Just Kidding series.
Manhattan School of Music, 120 Claremont Ave (122 St), (212) 749-2802, has an extensive calendar of events that includes Cafe Jazz, jazz in a candlelight setting showcasing Manhattan School of Music student jazz combos. Free and open to the public. Complimentary snacks and beverages offered. Mitzi Newhouse Pavilion - 7:30 p.m., various dates.
MOSA free concert series at the Lutheran Church at 189th and Bennett Avenue in upper Manhattan, easily accessible by the 1 train and the A train.
Young People's Chorus of NYC gives singers especially in the performing divisions the opportunity for both travel and to sing locally in many venues, from prestigious to chic. There are 3 concerts annually that all choristers perform in, and additional surprise opportunities throughout the school year. Repertoire ranges from jazz and pop, classical and international selections. Participants sing have sung at Carnegie Hall and the Joyce Theater in NYC, and even at the White House, some students have traveled abroad (to places such as Wales, Japan, France, and the Dominican Republic), as part of an exchange with young singers from other countries. YPC's founder, Francisco Nunez, sets ambitious goals for the chorus. The annual application comes with a request for $750 tuition, but, like several local homeschoolers, many students receive scholarships covering most of the tuition. The chorus takes boys and girls ages 7 -18. Auditions take place throughout the year. Applicants are asked to sing a song of their choice and match pitches or repeat patterns. As you might expect there are more girl singers than boys. So girls might find the process to be more competitive and may be put on a waiting-list. To set up an audition call 212-289-7779 ext. 10, or e-mail email@example.com.
Opus 118 is a nonprofit community music school serving the students of the Harlem area by providing low-cost, high-quality instruction in violin, viola, cello, guitar, and piano... accepting all students regardless of age, financial situation, or previous musical experience. Our goal is to transform the lives of our students and we do this with a faculty of dedicated, talented musicians who help students be their very best—both on stage and in life. Tel 212 831 4455 Location: 103 East 125th Street, 7th Fl., NYC (near #4,5 train).
One parent's comment: "A year ago, my two sons began violin lessons at Harlem's School of Music Opus 118. We have been honored and delighted with the whole experience. Our sons' teacher, Lynelle Smith, has been fun, patient, and demanding. It's been a good discipline for the kids to practice 15 minutes daily, and for us parents a relaxing, enjoyable listen as we hear them make gradual progress. The children are given the finest music training as well as supplemental recitals and surprise performances and workshops by world-class musicians. If you've seen the movie "Music of the Heart" then you will know the inspiring story of how Opus 118 came to be through the incredible efforts of the school's Director, Roberta Guaspari, and her associates."
BAM's Dancing into the Future is an after-school program for high school students interested in dance and choreography. This unique program focuses on various dance-making techniques, developing tools for movement analysis, and creating original choreography. Students will participate in master classes with professional dancers and choreographers presenting a wide range of techniques and styles. The program will culminate in an informal performance of the original work created by the participants. Students will also attend live dance performances at BAM as well as at other dance venues.
The Brooklyn Flea is at 180 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope, PS 321, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3pm. Free educational activities for kids including: mini-book-writing workshops by 826NYC, dance lessons by Mark Morris Dance Center, physics experiments by Carmelo the Science Fellow, recitals by Brooklyn Conservatory of Music students, and filmmaking by Reel Works. See the full schedule.
BargeMusic, concerts held on a retired barge at Fulton Ferry Landing near the Brooklyn Bridge. (718) 624.2083. Once a month, they have a free concert.
The Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 4th Ave, Brooklyn, (866)gowanus (469-2687), presents KidBrunchRunaround, Saturdays, 10 a.m. Bagels, muffins, hot-dogs, hamburgers, juice, hot chocolate - and music. Admission $5 some weeks, others free.
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, 179 Pacific Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201-6213, is open to girls in grades 2 through 11 and boys (with unchanged voices) in grades 2 through 8. Auditions are scheduled throughout the year. The student will perform simple pitch-matching exercises, sing scales, and sing the familiar song "Happy Birthday." A student's acceptance is based on age, vocal ability, musical experience, a love of singing, and enthusiasm for music. All chorus members are reevaluated annually to assess their progress and determine their placement. To schedule an auditon complete the form at their website. Contact the Chorus Manager at (718) 243-9447, ext 223, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for current rates. Over 40% of members are awarded financial aid or scholarships.
Children's Choir at St Paul's Church Carroll St, Brooklyn (http://stpaulscarrollst.weebly.com/index.html). Free opportunity for children of all denominations. ? The Treble Choir program is for ages 6 and up, and requires attendance on Thursdays, 6 to 7 pm, and a willingness to sing occasionally on Sunday mornings at the 11am mass.?? ??In the program, children will learn basic solfege, kodaly hand signs, and basic music reading skills.?? Snack provided??. Rehearsals take place in the parish hall of St. Paul's Church, 199 Carroll St.?? Choir members earn ribbons for each year of seniority. For more information or to sign up, phone 718-625-4126.
The Good Coffeehouse, Old Stone House, 336 Third Street, Bet 4th/5th Avenues, Brooklyn. Folk music concerts on the first Sunday of each month. Contribution $10.
Regina Opera is at Regina Hall is at the corner of 65th Street and 12th Avenue, Brooklyn (Next to Regina Pacis Church). They've been going for over 40 years. There is no admission fee for children under the age of 12.
Performances at Flushing Town Hall in Queens are free or a bargain. Check out their website for more info. Performances for students, Tickets: $6.50 (members, $5/adults and $1/child).
On Saturdays, , 34-17 48th Street Long Island City, offers free music classes including drumming circles, guitar, ukelele, recording, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Summer Arts Institute is a tuition-free, intensive, arts program for New York City public school students entering grades 8-12, held at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School in Astoria, Queens. Students can major in dance, theater, instrumental music (band), vocal music, film, string orchestra or visual arts. The program is designed for students at an intermediate or advanced level of study in their chosen discipline.
The Bronx Arts Ensemble is a not-for-profit organization enriching the cultural environment of the Bronx with a year-round schedule of concerts, special programs for families and a full music and arts-in-education program for schools. Check out their free events.
The Bronx Symphony Orchestra performs concerts throughout the year, in changing locations (mostly colleges and high schools) throughout the Bronx. For more info call (718) 601-9151 or visit the website for their schedule, and to join their mailing list. Admission is free, donations welcome.
The summer session of the Inwood Kids Community Orchestra begins the first Thursday after July 4th and meets every Thursday from 4 t 5 pm in July & August at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Air Conditioned!) 1815 Riverside Drive, NY, NY 10034. Bring your instrument and a song to play. Membership is FREE. Contact Bea at email@example.com for details or to register. This is an opportunity for children ages 6 to 18 to learn to play and perform simple musical arrangements with other children, as well as a chance for more advanced musicians to peer mentor.
The Point, 940 Garrison Ave., (718) 542-4139. Local arts center with performances and free or low cost music instruction for kids over seven and teens who are South Bronx residents.
Staten Island Ballet performs at several venues on Staten Island and also runs a ballet school.
Wagner College, One Campus Road, (718) 390-3313, offers many concerts throughout the year by the renowned Wagner Choir, the Concert Band, the Jazz Band, the Guitar and Lute Ensemble, as well as other ensembles and recitals by faculty and students. All events are free. See the schedule of events .