What is the best age to start music lessons?

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!

On the other hand, we’ve all heard from someone that says they were “forced” into taking music lessons at a young age, which brought them to a point of disliking not only the lessons, but the instrument itself. Parents that have had this sort of upbringing tend to lean towards waiting for their kids to show an interest in music; for their child to become a bit older before making a decision whether or not they even want to play a musical instrument. There is nothing wrong with this approach either.

Since each child is different, both of these approaches can be the right way to do it.

One thing is for certain, and that is when a child is young, and their mental abilities are still in the prime stages of development, they are in the perfect place to be exposed to music.

The question that should be asked is not so much at what age to start music lessons, but what is the goal of the music lessons? A very young child isn’t exposed to an instrument to master it, but instead to gain experience and develop a positive relationship with music. If this is your goal, then “lessons” could start any time after birth. These lessons wouldn’t necessarily be what most would consider formal lessons. They would focus on immersing the child in a musical environment, through simple activities like musical games, or swaying and dancing while singing or playing a musical instrument for the child.

Around the age of 3, the child could be ready for an introduction to more formal lessons. At this age, the goal would still have a focus on things like finding the beat within a piece of music, or identifying an instrument or melody.

At age 5, a lot of kids have developed enough of a musical foundation that has prepared them for formal music lessons. At this age, the goal of the lesson should still be to further their understanding of music. Piano and violin are two of the most popular instruments to start learning at this young age, but other good possibilities include the guitar, ukulele and recorder.

By the age of 10, children will not only have a number of skills connected with their instrument of choice, but also possess the physical strength to try other, larger instruments. Some of these could include a brass or larger stringed instrument that would require more strength and stamina. At this time in their musical upbringing, the goal of the music lessons starts to transition from building experience with music, to improving on their performance ability.

Please keep in mind that all children are different, and these are only guidelines. The important thing to remember is that exposing a child to music at a young age has a lot of benefits in their development, and can open the door to a life full of amazing experiences and opportunities.

Where to See Live Music in Winnipeg

Live Music WinnipegHappy 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

2) The Garrick
Calling 330 Garry Street home, the historic Garrick is proud to host a lot of great live acts in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.
The Garrick first opened in 1921 as a movie theatre and now hosts an array of concerts featuring rising local artists and international acts.
Some bands you may have heard of that have played here are Sarah Harmer, Propagandhi, and The Beaches (who also played during the pre-game show at the 107th Grey Cup held in Calgary, Alberta).
You can visit their website here

3) The Pyramid Cabaret
Located at 176 Fort Street, close to iconic Portage and Main, The Pyramid Cabaret has been a mainstay for both local and touring acts since the 1980s. Founded in 1987, it used to be called The Spectrum Cabaret, but changed its name in 1995 to The Pyramid Cabaret.
Some notable acts that have graced its stage are The Watchmen, Sloan and Goo Goo Dolls.
If you’ve never checked it out, this could be the year you do!
Visit them online here

4) The Good Will Social Club
The Good Will Social Club is a bar, venue, eatery and coffee shop located at 625 Portage Avenue in Winnipeg’s West End. It’s an excellent place to discover local, national and international music! The venue is nice and open, with a stage large enough for almost any act that plays.
The Good Will also has something going on practically every single day of the week, so there’s always something fun to do in downtown Winnipeg!
Check out their calendar here

5) The Handsome Daughter
The Handsome Daughter is a live music venue located at 61 Sherbrook Street in the West Broadway neighbourhood. They host bands and DJs every weekend, stand-up comedy every Thursday, trivia nights, retro video game tournaments, art shows, poetry slams and countless other events.
This is a fantastic little gem that is worthy of an outing!
Check them out here

6) Centennial Concert Hall
For an experience like no other, the Centennial Concert Hall is a first choice. Home of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and Manitoba Opera, this live venue is sure to impress! No matter which event you attend, your eyes and ears will be sure to thank you.
See upcoming events here

7) The Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club
Located at the corner of Main Street and St. Mary Avenue in the heart of Winnipeg, The High & Lonesome Club runs deep in Winnipeg’s veins of musical heritage. If you love the blues, you may just find your second home. If you love Big Dave McLean, you *are* home!
Check them out here

8) West End Cultural Centre (WECC)
You can find The West End at 586 Ellice Avenue in… you guessed it, the West End!
Established in 1987, the WECC is a non-profit, charitable organization that showcases local, national, and international artists. This live venue has a great atmosphere, great people, and even greater talent that graces its stage.
Check out their upcoming shows here

9) The Park Theatre
After 15 years since the doors opened, The Park Theatre has grown into one of Winnipeg’s premier live event venues. The building is a renovated movie theatre that first opened in the fall of 1915.
Located at 698 Osborne Street, they offer events ranging from live bands, to “cult classic” movies like The Fly, Sean of The Dead, Monty Python and This Is Spinal Tap.
See their upcoming events here

10) A live music venue list wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to our very own Bell MTS Place located in downtown Winnipeg. Home to our NHL team The Winnipeg Jets, it’s seen a lot of musical action over the years, from some of the biggest musical acts on the planet. A few of the big names that have rolled through are:
Pearl Jam
Selena Gomez
Iron Maiden
The Smashing Pumpkins
Mötley Crüe

There are so many more but this short list just gives an idea of the caliber of live music you can see in Winnipeg!

The Good, The Bad: The Musical

Music is so varied, and used for so many different reasons, it can feel hard to pin down all of it’s benefits. It can be used to create a particular ambiance; sometimes used to convince people to stay in your bar for another drink, other times used to convince young people to stay away from your establishment (honestly, those kids are missing out; loiter awhile longer and listen to Bach). Music can also be used to regulate emotion; it’s so common that a Music for Mood Regulation (MMR) scale has been developed, which you can read about in one of our previous blog posts. All kinds of changes can be inspired by music; most good, but some negative.

A meta study was conducted by McGill University to evaluate some of the positive effects that music can have, and the results were pretty astonishing. As it turns out, music affects more than just your mood in a positive way; listening to music can literally change your physiology. The presence of cells that attack harmful bacteria and germs, as well as antibodies that aid in mucous system immunity, is increased when you listen to music. The presence of cortisol, the stress hormone, is found to be lower when playing or listening to music.

There are other potential positive implications for music use in broader society; there are some telltale signs that seem to indicate music can increase social cohesion through changes to the presence of oxytocin in the human body. Music has also been used successfully to help with a wide variety of cognitive therapies for Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. The meta study conducted at McGill asks researchers to look deeper into the benefits of music, how playing music differs from listening, and how it might be used in a wide variety of treatments. The future of music as a tool for therapy looks incredibly bright.

There may, however, be ways of listening to music that are not beneficial. Consider the MMR; the scale includes three ways of using music to regulate negative emotion: Diversion, Solace, and Discharge. Diversion is the use of music to distract oneself from negative emotions; listening or playing an upbeat song to stop feeling so down. Solace is listening or playing to music that matches your mood; it’s almost a form of empathy, music that’s there for you, and lets you know that others have felt how you feel. Discharge is when you use music to express negative emotions. Women tend to use Diversion and Solace more, while men are more prone to using Discharge. Discharge seems to be linked with some bad coping strategies; men who use it tend to ruminate more, and it might actually worsen emotional states; the same was not found to be true for women. One idea about why this is happening is that men tend to externalize their emotions, which is not always the best coping strategy.

There’s a lot of progress being made in music schools to better understand how music affects our bodies and minds, but as we can see from the studies, there’s a lot of room left to go. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the world of music, from listening, to playing, to researching, so get involved!

Fall is just around the corner!

With summer coming to an end and fall just around the corner, The Academy of Music would like to extend a warm welcome back to all students!
Have you been wanting to pick up that guitar you’ve had for ages? What about that piano in the corner of your living room you’ve been meaning to play?
The Academy of Music offers a wide array of music lessons for the aspiring musician ranging from piano, guitar, voice and more!
With our trained instructors coupled with the convenience of in-home or online music lessons, living the life of a musician has never been easier!

Register today!

Children’s Art Tax Credit

As you may know, the 2016 federal budget has eliminated the Children’s Arts Credit for 2017 and subsequent taxation years. The provincial government however offers a Children’s Arts and Cultural Activity Tax Credit that provides parents of children under 16 with a non-refundable benefit of up to $500 of eligible expenses per child may be claimed for participation in eligible non-fitness activities including music lessons. Please keep your receipts given to you by your instructor as they will be sufficient to claim this credit. For more information please visit the Government of Manitoba tax information link below.