British Music Experience

If you’re a parent, the summer holidays can either fill you excitement or horror at having to keep the kids entertained for 6 weeks. You can only make so many trips to the park sound exciting! Here’s an idea…

Yesterday, we got to go to 'The British Music Experience' at London’s O2, which is being labelled as Britain’s new interactive museum of popular music – it’s a unique permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of the British music scene. I will say now, whether you’re young or old, a die-hard music fan or not, you’ll love this.

As with any museum, there’s lots of exhibits displayed behind glass that have the “wow” factor – from original hand-written lyrics and famous outfits, to instruments and other personal artefacts that belonged to some of the most well known performers this country has produced. But the fun aspect of 'The British Music Experience' is how it’s split up into 8 periods of time, from the mid-50s right up to current day and features lots of interactive technology where you can watch videos, listen to music clips and see interviews from the stars themselves and the people they worked with. It’s very hands-on - even my 3-year old had a great time.

For me, the best room was “1985-1993” (featuring Live Aid, CD’s being introduced, Stock Aitken & Waterman and the Manchester music scene), as I was suddenly transferred back to my teens and early twenties. Although there was something very un-nerving about seeing things from “not that long ago” as a museum exhibit. My 9 year old son pointed at something asking “what’s that?”… to which my reply was “er… that’s a record player… that’s what we used to listen to music on”. I’m amazed he didn’t call me Granddad.

There’s a brilliant Gibson Interactive Studio where you can sing in a vocal booth (we did 'Wonderwall' - it wasn’t pretty), play on guitars, drums, keyboards and create your own remix of Queen’s 'Radio Ga Ga Ga' on a recording studio mixing desk. I followed the tutorial for how to play guitar to KT Tunstall’s 'Suddenly I See', which was going well until I had to do it at the proper speed. Brian May wouldn’t have been impressed. Finally, in the centre is the “Dance The Decades” booth where you can learn and perform one of 12 dances from the past 70 years. It’s recorded on video, so not only was our family tribute to The Locomotion embarrassingly bad, but I got the chance to see it all over again afterwards!

The genius part to all this is what they call your “Smart-ticket”, which is basically your entrance ticket but it contains a small chip. It remembers where you swiped your ticket throughout the exhibition and when you get home, you can log into the BME website and watch back your videos, hear back your performances and see parts of the experience you particularly enjoyed.

If you’re in London at any time over the next few weeks, it’s a great day out – and until the end of August, they have special promotions for children.


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