Adult music studies thrive on U of W campus

An older generation of Winnipeggers is re-discovering how music can affect and enrich our inner lives

By Katherina Dueck

Remember childhood music lessons or playing an instrument in school? Or listening to a song that stirred something deep inside you? While many of us share a life-long love of music, the passion may have dampened over the years due to time constraints and adult responsibilities.

Now might be the best time to rekindle that passion. Studies show that learning music as an adult reaps many benefits, and the good news is that it’s all up to you; no one will make you practice when you’d rather be outside with your friends.

So what makes music learning a good fit for adults? First, there is your own desire to make it happen; it’s something you want to do. Couple that with time management skills and personal discipline acquired throughout your life, and practice time becomes a pleasure rather than a chore.

In addition, adults have a better grasp of abstract theory, making them more receptive to learning.

Need more reasons?

It’s been proven that learning, playing and even listening to music can help relieve stress and improve a person’s general mood: we can all use that! Grasping theory and mastering the intricacies of playing music also offers a great mental workout for our brains as we age.

And finally, along with music comes a sense of community that grows out of sharing common interests.

Given these benefits, it’s no wonder that the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts has seen its base of adult students grow. Founded more than 30 years ago, MCMA now offers more diverse programming and community partnerships than ever from its new home on the University of Winnipeg campus, and nearly 40 per cent of the school’s students are adult learners.

“The number of adults enrolled in our programs proves that it’s never too late to begin playing an instrument or continue the musical journey you put on hold for education, career and family,” says Norine Harty, MCMA executive director. “Tell us what you’re interested in and we can suggest some great musical experiences for you.”

Whether you prefer folk, jazz, rock, classical or another genre of music, MCMA has the course and schedule to fit your needs. It’s no longer necessary to fit lessons into busy evenings and weekends: classes are available to accommodate lunch-hour breaks as well as free time in the afternoon and evening.

Already know how to play and want to do something more? Consider joining an ensemble to sharpen your skills.

If you love music but don’t necessarily want to play, consider participating in one of the conservatory’s growing list of music appreciation classes, such as the upcoming Maestro Series, presented in partnership with the University of Winnipeg collegiate performing arts program.

Art in our lives

Alexander Mickelthwate. Photo by Grajewsli Fotograph Inc.
Alexander Mickelthwate. Photo by Grajewsli Fotograph Inc.

The four-part series takes place in November and features MCMA faculty member and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra maestro, Alexander Mickelthwate. With intriguing topics that examine how the arts can affect our everyday lives, the series promises to be as educational as it is entertaining.

“Music encompasses a vast array of tones, from street sounds to the resonance of an orchestra, and it can influence our mood, energy, personality and interactions,” said Mickelthwate. “I am excited to explore how music and its principles enhance and enrich our lives.”

Enrich your own life with a visit to the MCMA website to discover all the programs and experiences the school has to offer, or call them to discuss your interests. Whether you want to continue musical training that began when you were younger or begin a new journey, the time has never been better to take the first step.

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