This year, online learning has become the new norm. Schools have closed and families have stayed inside in their efforts to maintain physical distancing. But for those who want to further their education during this time, the pandemic might stand in the way of their goals. Thanks to technology, there’s a solution to this problem – virtual lessons. They have risen in popularity since the outbreak of COVID-19. While some students will miss the intimacy of an in-person lesson, online learning has its advantages.
This year we have gone from “business as usual” to extreme social distancing in only a matter of a few short months. The entire world feels like it’s on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Otherwise known as COVID-19, this virus has taken the world by storm, and has pushed a lot of people into a corner, wondering what they can do to achieve some sort of normalcy in their otherwise shaken up lives.
With “social distancing” being implemented everywhere we look, it’s incredibly important for everyone to do their part in helping themselves and those around them to foster an environment focused on both safety and health.
Many schools are now closed, and students are being homeschooled, mostly by parents. This has been a major disruption for both parents and students alike, since a lot of parents are still working (to some degree) either at home or at their place of business. Social media is full of uncertainty, with the popular question, “who will teach my kids?”
We are extremely fortunate to live in a digitally connected world, from Facebook and Instagram, to Netflix and YouTube. At Academy of Music, we’ve been offering online music lessons for quite some time, but lately we’ve seen a lot of students move from traditional in-person music lessons to online learning.
All you need is a high-speed internet connection, and a computer, tablet or phone that supports video communication, and you have everything you need to be able to take part in online music lessons.
Our music teachers are passionate about teaching their students one-on-one, so taking the lessons online is a smooth transition. The best part about online lessons at this time is you can keep learning, while also maintaining social distancing! With so many people at home, your lesson schedule can also be quite flexible, and be worked around your schedule. Your teacher will work with you to figure out a time that best suits the both of you, and we know it will be something you can look forward to week in and week out.
Another great aspect of taking online music lessons at home, is less travel time for those that would normally have to attend a lesson outside of their home. This time saving opportunity allows for increased productivity, to be able to spend more time practicing, or other activities that help us grow. Plus, when utilizing online learning, you can sign up and start taking lessons with us anywhere in the world! No matter how far away you live, it will be like our music instructors are right there with you in your home – in real time!
The Academy of Music offers music lessons for all ages, and we have a lot to choose from! Just check out the Instruments tab in the top menu and you can see that we offer something for everyone. Our secure payment option is a breeze, and you can get enrolled in just a few clicks, making being stuck at home a lot more enjoyable right now.
This world pandemic has forced so many of us to make adjustments. At this time, it’s too early to tell when life will get back to “normal”, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop everything we were doing. History has proven that music will always play a major role in our lives, even when our lives aren’t easy.
We need to focus on the good, more now than ever, and let our passions flow wherever we are.
Tips for a successful Zoom Music Lesson or a Zoom Music RecitalHere are some important tips for setting up your device for a successful Zoom music lesson or Zoom Music recital. Practice with family and friends before your lesson or recital to test your set up.
1. Internet connectionIt is important to have a good, fast internet speed (both upload and download) when using Zoom so as not to cut in and out. You may be required to upgrade your existing plan if you are on a basic plan. Make sure no one else in the home is using the internet at the same time (especially video streaming such as Netflix & YouTube) as this will slow down the internet speed. Here are some other tips about your internet connection for Zoom.
- Wired connections are better than wireless (Wi-Fi or cellular) connections.
- WiFi connections are better than cellular (3G/4G/LTE) connections.
2. SoundZoom automatically cuts out back ground noise which is not good for a music lesson or recital. It is best to change the settings to Use Original Audio. Here are instructions on how to change that on a device as well as a computer. You will first need to download and install the Zoom app. Enabling the Original Sound On a Device: a) Open the Zoom App b) Click on “Settings” on the bottom right c) Click on “Meetings” d) Turn on “Use Original Sound”. e) When you join a meeting, you will still need to enable the original sound. Click on “More” (the three dots at the bottom of the menu) and turn on “Enable Original Sound”. Enabling the Original Sound on a Computer: a) Open the Zoom App. b) Click on “Settings” c) Click “Audio”. d) Here you can test and adjust your speakers and microphone. Most important is the section where it says Suppress Background Noise. It will be set to Auto. Change that to Low (faint background sound). f) Underneath you will see Music and Professional Audio. Turn on Show in-meeting option to enable original sound from the microphone by checking the box. It will then give you three options, 1. High Fidelity, 2. Echo Cancelation 3. Stereo Audio. Make sure these are all turned off. g) When joining the meeting you’ll need to “Turn On Original Sound” in the upper left of the screen.
3. LightingMake sure to have plenty of light on the student like you would taking a photograph. Try to minimize the light behind the performer as this will cause the image to be darker.
4. Camera AngleSetting up your device camera angle for a Zoom lesson is different than it is for a recital! For most instruments it is important for the teacher to see the student’s hands as close as possible as well as the instrument. For a Zoom recital it is more important to see the whole person (head to toe) as if you were taking a photograph of the performer.
Have you ever wondered why people have different tastes in music? Some prefer slower, quieter music, yet some love their music fast and loud. Is it random? Are some of us predestined to like certain chord progressions over others? Does our DNA dictate our preferences between complex rhythms over simplicity? Are we born with a certain musical connection, pushing us towards certain styles of music? (more…)
What do you think of on Valentine’s Day? Your significant other? Cinnamon hearts? Roses that suddenly cost a lot more compared to any other time of the year? At Academy of Music, we’d like to take this opportunity to remember some of the greatest love songs ever written. It was impossible for us to mention all of them, and we could only scrape the surface, but here are our Top 10 Love Songs, to commemorate Valentine’s Day! (more…)
The age-old question of when to start music lessons is a good one!
History is full of child prodigies in the world of music, from Beethoven to Stevie Wonder. Whether in school or church, almost everyone knows of someone in their own family, or another, that has a tremendous gift for a musical instrument. This often allows parents to feel pressured to enroll their child into music lessons at a young age. Could this young exposure to music be one of the secrets to success? There are studies that have shown this to definitely be a helping factor! (more…)
Happy New Year! Not only is it a new year, but it’s also a new decade! They say hindsight is 20/20, but we need to keep looking forward 🙂
New Year’s resolutions are made every year, and one that we can really get behind is wanting to get out and see more live music. Winnipeg winters are newsworthy around the world, but they are also a great time to get out and be entertained in one of most musical cities in the world.
Here are the top 10 places in Winnipeg to see live music (in no particular order):
1) King’s Head Pub
Located at 120 King Street, in the heart of the Exchange District, the building was constructed in 1896 and in August of 1987, the Kings Head Pub first opened its doors to Winnipeg as the first pub in the city.
Every weekend, The King’s Head hosts a variety of bands, playing both original and cover songs. It’s also right across the street from The Cube in The Exchange District, which during the warmer months always has something entertaining going on. A pint, a patio, and entertainment oh my!
You can visit their website here
Academy of Music offers both in-home and online music lessons, in order to serve our students better. If you’re located in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area, our music instructors can come directly to you for in-home music lessons, and our online Skype music lessons work perfectly for anyone in the world!
In-home lesson benefits:
- More accountability: When a student takes music lessons in a class setting, they have the ability to “hide” which allows them to get away with not performing their best, and to also put less effort into practicing since they might feel the other students will help musically carry them. With in-home lessons, it’s just you and the teacher – either you practiced or you didn’t, and if you’re not trying your best, it will be noticeable and there is no one else to blame. This type of engagement helps to build strong discipline and work ethic, which every adult knows are necessary skills to have in life.
- One-on-one lesson format: If a student is in a class setting, and they have trouble grasping a concept, it’s easy for the class to keep moving forward before the student truly understands. With a private teacher, the student can get the attention they deserve, and the teaching style can be molded to the student’s learning ability and speed, which helps foster growth and confidence.
- Learn what interests them: In a class setting, the teacher has to teach based on a pre-defined curriculum. Everyone will usually learn the same piece of music, whether or not they find it interesting. With private in-home music lessons, the student has the opportunity to learn songs that appeal to their musical tastes, which helps keep them motivated and the lessons fun!
- Lessons to fit learning style: Every person, from children to adults, learns in a different way. Some people learn best from listening, some are more visual based, and some are hands-on. In a class setting, not all of these different learning styles can be met, which is the unfortunate truth. With in-home lessons, the instructor can tailor the teaching style to fit the needs of the student in how they learn, effectively helping them grasp the musical concepts faster, which achieves the greatest success in the shortest amount of time.
- Not slowed down by the rest of the class: If a child is naturally gifted, they tend to get bored and frustrated with the speed of the class. When taking private one-on-one lessons, they can progress as fast as need be, keeping the pace in line with their abilities.
More accountability, individualized one-on-one instruction and attention, greater motivation, and the best opportunity for success – private in-home music lessons are hands down the best choice for your child’s musical education!
Online music lesson benefits:
As the internet has progressed over the last decade, online music lessons have become an excellent alternative to in-person lessons. Our instructors can only travel so far to do in-home lessons, but using the magic of Skype, you can have tailored face-to-face musical instruction from the comfort of your home, anywhere in the world!
- Convenience: All you need is a computer with an internet connection and your instrument, and you’re
good to go! All you need to do is arrange a time with your instructor that suits both of you, log into your
Skype account (which is super easy), and start your lesson. With online music lessons, you don’t need to
travel anywhere, you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas – it’s all about you and what works
- Freedom to choose your teacher: When you sign up for online music lessons, you get the right teacher
for the job – the one that specializes in exactly what you want to learn. Your teacher will plan your
lessons around your goals and skill level, so that each Skype lesson will be an activity to look forward to
each and every time.
- Online resources: The internet is full of musical resources that can help outside of the lesson as well.
Your teacher can help you find what you need, like tutorials that can help you work on specific skills for
your instrument, or more information about the history of music and your instrument. The sky is the
- Cost effective: Online music lessons also help you save money. Chances are you already own a computer
that has internet, plus online music teachers don’t have travel costs associated with in-home music
lessons. In addition, the instrument doesn’t have to leave the house, and you don’t have to travel
anywhere to buy expensive learning materials.
What are you waiting for? Sign up today!
Winnipeg, Manitoba is home to many a sports fan, and it’s been a lot of years coming, but Winnipeg finally saw their beloved Blue Bombers play for the CFL Grey Cup. This year’s 107th Grey Cup took place in Calgary, Alberta between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, which a number of Manitoba fans made the trek to go see live in person.
It was exciting and a lot of fun watching Winnipeg defeat Hamilton, 33–12. This was the Blue Bombers’ first Grey Cup victory since 1990, ending one of the longest championship droughts in CFL history.
Aside from the football action, another great highlight of the Grey Cup are the pre-game and half-time shows. This year, we got to enjoy The Beaches, and none other than the great Keith Urban. Keith Urban was definitely a safe bet in making sure the masses would enjoy some amazing music, but it was also fantastic to see relative newcomers The Beaches, which no doubt added some young flare to the event.
The Beaches are a Canadian alternative rock band from Toronto, Ontario consisting of Jordan Miller (lead vocals, bass), Kylie Miller (guitar), Leandra Earl (guitar, keyboards), and Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums, percussion). Incredibly talented, the girls started learning how to play music just after completing preschool. Taking music lessons at an early age no doubt contributed to laying the ground work to becoming skilled musicians by the time they wanted to start a band! The beaches appeared as the on-field pre-game entertainment before the kick-off, performing two of their most popular releases, the first of which was the song ‘Fascination’.
Speaking of which, they definitely were fascinating! A little online digging and I was able to find out that The Beaches will be playing in Winnipeg on Feb 15, 2020 at The Garrick. I’m sure this will be a really cool show!
Keith Urban played the halftime show, and as always, he delivered the goods! The last time Mr. Urban played in Winnipeg was Wednesday, September 19th, 2018, while he was touring his album “Graffiti U”. If you love his music, he’s even got some music lesson books on Amazon. Guitar lessons at Academy of Music could easily incorporate some of these songs, which helps to keep music lessons fun and engaging!
A lot of musicians, even world-famous ones, come from humble beginnings. As mentioned above, all of the members of The Beaches started taking music lessons at a young age, and even the great Keith Urban was only 6 years old when he started taking guitar lessons. Legend has it that there was a local guitar teacher that wanted to hang up a flyer in his dad’s convenience store, and his dad agreed on one condition – if he would give young Keith free guitar lessons in exchange for the advertisement. Not surprisingly, even at such a young age, his son exhibited natural talent on the guitar, and went on to win several talent shows while still attending elementary school.
This goes to show that music lessons can start at any age! Whether you’re a young child, in school, an adult or in retirement and have always wanted to learn a certain instrument, you can be rest assured that the Academy of Music has the best options for you, and will make sure you get the best learning experience possible.
The greatest mysteries in life are often the things that we take for granted. As a child, you learn about colour; you learn which colours are which at first, a simple game of identification. As you grow older, you learn that you can mix colours together to make different colours. As you get older still, you learn that the property of colour is derived from reflected light. Later still, you might begin to wonder whether or not others see what you call “purple” as purple in the same way that you do; colour as a gateway to questioning subjective experience in and of itself.
You might have had a similar trajectory when learning music. You start with your “Do-Re-Mis”, very much in the vein of The Sound of Music. Later, you might realize that very few people actually use Do-Re-Mi as a system to define notes (no one I know has ever used “Do Sharp”). You might then realize that “Do” can either be “C Natural” (Fixed Do) or the start of a scale (Movable Do). You might realize later still that Western scales aren’t the be all and end all of music, and that a staggering number of microtones exist between the naturals and sharps.
The system of Do-Re-Mi is known as a solfège. Solfège is, simply put, a teaching method where syllables are attached to notes to make them easier to remember. You could, ostensibly, develop a chromatic solfège that includes 12 notes, Do-sharps and all, but going past this into microtones seems to obviate the point of the solfège in the first place (easy memorization). The problems that we see with interpreting the infinite space of microtones, however, doesn’t prevent us from trying the same thing with rhythm.
Rhythmic solfège, then, is the “Do-Re-Mi” of rhythm, and like Do-Re-Mi, you’ve probably heard it before. When you count quarter notes “1, 2, 3, 4”, you’re using rhythmic solfège; assigning memorable syllables to a rhythm. In a similar vein, you can count eighth notes as “1 and 2 and 3 and 4”, and triplets as “1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4”. Let’s say you need a chord to be played on the 3rd note of the first triplet; you can say “The chord comes in at 1 a” to make it easier to remember.
Of course, we can get a little bit more wild with our rhythmic solfège than just counting; after all, this is a tool we want to use to count almost any rhythm imaginable – and not just to count it, but to really feel it, too. You can, for example, use rhythmic solfège to help you count in difficult time signatures. Let’s say you have 4/4 time; you could count it by saying “Brandon Brandon”. There are two syllables in Brandon, so saying it two times gives you 4 syllables, matching with your four quarter notes. Let’s say you throw a Winnipeg into the mix: “Brandon Winnipeg”; now you’re counting in 5/4 times! “Brandon Brandon Winnipeg” gives you 7/4, and so on. This type of rhythmic solfege is particularly useful for keeping time during odd time signatures.
The solfège I just used, as you might have guessed, was one I came up with on the spot. That’s what I want you to get from this post – it’s not about a specific system, but about modes of thinking. You don’t have to know the most used solfèges to feel rhythms; you can create your own in order to wrap your head around a piece you’re trying to play. Use what you already know to learn something new.
Solving all of life’s great mysteries is impossible, but making sense of them by delving in – with a keen, curious mind, a willingness to learn and grow, and a bit of creative flair – that’s something we can all get behind. You might start by diving into our violin lessons; they’re taught at home, in order to give you the feeling of security that’s needed to delve head first into the unknown. From there, you might learn a lot about the hidden rhythms and notes that surround us at all times. You might learn to hear things a bit more musically. You might make your own solfège. You might uncover things you never knew about yourself. You never know.
Imagine you’re in Jamaica, circa sometime in the ‘60s and ‘70s. You want to make some cash, maybe selling wares and food, get a little bit of a party going. You need to attract customers to your spot, so how are you going to do it? Well, one way you might is by getting a sound system going – some speakers on a flatbed truck, for example. You need to play some music, so you might get yourself a turntable with a DJ, and play the hottest records around. Now that you have all that set up, you go to a nice sunny spot, and you start to play. A crowd starts to show up, and you can sell a bit of merch; things are going well, until just down the way, someone else shows up with the same kind of truck and starts playing – but louder. They’re drowning out the sound of your music, so you up your volume to win the crowd back. More trucks start showing up, and the crowd is moving from place to place, and the music is getting louder and louder. You try to keep up, but your sound starts clipping at the highest volumes, and eventually – BANG! Your speakers blow out. You just got killed by sound in a Jamaican sound clash.
The clipping sound you heard right before you blew your system? That’s distortion, and it’s been around since the first electric guitar amplifiers. When you try to play sounds louder than your system’s power supply can allow for, the tops and bottoms of the sine waves that the vibrations from your music make get cut off, leading to that dirty, crunchy, warm sound. Distortion is one of those beautiful things that sound like a mistake at first, but can actually add a lot of colour to the music you make. Early blues guitarists experienced distortion because their amps didn’t have very large power supplies; amplifying the music would result in distortion even if they didn’t want it. Later on, musicians started experimenting with distortion intentionally, with guitarists like Link Wray intentionally poking holes into their amplifiers in order to mess with their sounds.
Today, distortion and rock music are so intertwined it would be almost impossible to find a band that hasn’t used it in some way or another. We’re no longer so prone to jabbing our amplifiers full of holes or intentionally blowing them out; in fact, there’s a whole industry dedicated to not having to do that. Many effects pedals produce distortion in some manner or another; the techniques that they use to do this can be pretty varied, and the sounds you can create are as disparate as the techniques used. You can have distortion on your low notes, distortion on your high notes, fuzz effects; you name it, there’s probably a pedal that can produce it. All of this from something that was considered dissonant, unwanted and problematic.
There’s an important lesson to be learned from the history of distortion: you need to keep an open mind when making music. When you’re writing or improvising, and you make a note that sounds off, see if you can incorporate that note into the overall structure of the song. Repeat it. Riff off of it. Play with it. When you make a noise that doesn’t sound like music, think about distortion; that didn’t sound musical to many, at first. Producers would shy away from the noise. Link Wray’s “Rumble” got banned from radio play because the distortion was so scary; can you imagine? One of the keys to unlocking new and exciting music is to be willing to use sounds no one has thought of as musical; incorporate the dissonant, the surprising, and the surreal into your compositions.
Music lessons shouldn’t just be about teaching you to play music – they should be about teaching you to appreciate music. Training your brain to hear music everywhere is like training your brain to think in a different language; it allows you to perceive the world in a new way. When everything is music to you, the world takes on a lighter, more playful tone. Every sound you hear becomes more beautiful. The buzzing of the city becomes an orchestra. You can hear the sum of the parts, the greater whole they form, the unity of it all, from distortion to crystal clear sounds.