‘We need to be strong for each other’

Ottawa Citizen – September 21, 2013

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Families came out to the vigil held at the Fallowfield Transitway station following the fatal bus/train collision which took place earlier on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
Photograph by: James Park, Ottawa CitizenRe: Candles, prayers on offer, Sept. 19.

I extend my deepest condolences to those families who lost loved ones in the tragic bustrain accident that shook our city this week. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering they now endure, and the hole in their hearts that will forever remain unfilled.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the first responders, emergency personnel, paramedics, police officers, doctors and nursing staff for quickly taking care of our city during those hours of need. We rely so heavily on these individuals when these terrible things happen, and I’m grateful for their bravery and professionalism in the wake of such a tragedy. A heartfelt thank you to Mayor Jim Watson for his staunch leadership, councillors Jan Harder and Steve Desroches for their dedication and communication, Premier Kathleen Wynne for providing support all the way from Queen’s Park, and all our local MPs and MPPs for stepping in and being there for constituents.

I’ve lived in Barrhaven for nearly 27 years; it is the only home I’ve ever known. I was born here, raised here and have now built a life of my own here, including co-owning and operating a local business, which allows my staff and I the opportunity to serve our amazing community. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s collision, the first thing clients asked upon arrival was, “Are you and your family okay?” I was almost taken aback by the outpouring of support, not only for those directly affected by what happened, but towards everyone. This tragedy has affected us all, as Barrhavenites, as Ottawans, as neighbours and as friends.

I travel aboard OC Transpo, towards our downtown core every morning. I was, thankfully and luckily, not on that 76 Express bus that collided with the Via Rail train. But its impact has been felt by the entire city. As I returned to Barrhaven that night, I couldn’t help but think of those families who wouldn’t have their loved ones return home, as they used to do every day.

There were 14 people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children – at my bus stop on Thursday morning. The mood was unmistakably sombre, and an air of hesitation hung over us as the doubledecker bus rolled up and the automatic doors swung open before our eyes. We all climbed in, one by one, and took our seats. Fears aside, we all knew, silently, that we need to be strong for each other, for those families who mourn, and for our beloved Barrhaven.

Ashley Martyn, Owner
Barrhaven Music Academy

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Grownups love music lessons as much as the kids do

BMA was featured as a business profile in the Barrhaven Independent on May 17, 2013. Read the wonderfully written article by reporter Bev Mcrae below, or pick up a copy at the UPS Store in Barrhaven (900 Greenbank Rd) or Ross’ Independent Grocer (Greenbank Dr & Strandherd Ave).

Barrhaven Music Academy opened its doors in July, 2012 and already is as popular with parents as it is with kids. Left to right, Tashi Bernard (voice), Kendra Mathers (piano), Nadia Zaid (voice and piano), Ashley Martyn (acoustic, electric and bass guitar), Corey Taylor (guitar, voice) and Ria Aikat (piano) love teaching music to all ages - from preschoolers to adults.

Barrhaven Music Academy opened its doors in July, 2012 and already is as popular with parents as it is with kids. Left to right, Tashi Bernard (voice), Kendra Mathers (piano), Nadia Zaid (voice and piano), Ashley Martyn (acoustic, electric and bass guitar), Corey Taylor (guitar, voice) and Ria Aikat (piano) love teaching music to all ages – from preschoolers to adults.

Grownups love music lessons as much as the kids do

By Bev McRae

On any given evening you will see adults sitting in the waiting room at Barrhaven Music Academy in the Mulligan Centre on Woodroffe Ave. at Longfields Dr. The thing is, they’re not all waiting for their kids. They may be waiting with their kids.

“We have tons of adult students,” said Ashley Martyn, co-owner of the music school. “We have many in piano, guitar and voice who just love it. In a lot of our families, the mom or the dad will take a lesson while the kid is taking a lesson. It’s really fun. The adults enjoy it as much, if not more than the kids.”

Martyn and her friend Nadia Zaid, who both grew up in Old Barrhaven, opened Barrhaven Music Academy in July 2012, and now, along with seven other music teachers, offer lessons in piano, guitar, bass guitar, voice, violin and drums for students of all ages, even preschoolers.

“The Tuneful Tots program is a music education program designed for three to five year olds, that age where parents may not be sure they want to jump them right into private lessons,” said Martyn. “The students don’t specialize in any one instrument in Tuneful Tots, they get used to rhythms and beats, learning lyrics, learning songs – just getting them excited about music.”

Tuneful Tots is taught by Kendra Mathers, one 45-minute lesson a week of singing, clapping, ear training, making music and moving to it. “We have a box of instruments with maracas, tambourines, shakers, rain sticks,” said Martyn. “Everyone takes an instrument and they create simple rhythm first and then it gets more complex and they learn how to keep a beat together and how the different instruments sound like when they’re played all together. It’s a lot of fun, just hilarious. It’s like playtime for them, but they’re having the love of music instilled in them while they’re playing the song.”

At what age are children ready for private lessons on their favorite instrument is a question Martyn often has to answer. “It really depends on the student,” she said. “If they’re super-motivated and willing to understand the practice that it takes to progress at a steady pace; I’ve had students as young as four.”

And of course, whatever instrument the little one plays has to fit. “There are half size guitars, three-quarter size and full size,” Martyn explained. “A little four year old would play a half size guitar. As long as their fingers can reach the four frets, they can play it.”

Other instruments are too big for little beginners, which is why many parents choose to enrol their children in piano lessons.

“With the piano, you just have to be able to press down a key and that doesn’t take much physical effort, so a lot of our students start on the piano because it’s easier and you can get the sound out right away,” Martyn said.

Piano is the most popular class at Barrhaven Music Academy, and the school has teachers available for all levels from beginner to advanced. The average time for a lesson in one of the school’s five classrooms is 30 minutes for a flat fee of $22. Adults or more advanced students may prefer a 45-minute or one hour session.

The music school also has a Youth Choir for singers age seven to 12, led by I.iz Wardhaugh that rehearses one hour a week on Thursday nights, at a cost of $15 per session.

“Most of the members are our students who are taking voice lessons, but we do have some outside kids who have joined just that program,” Martyn said. “It started in January and their debut performance will be at our summer concert in June. Eventually we’ll get them into competitions like the Kiwanis Music Festival.”

Barrhaven Music Academy presents two concerts a year, one in June, another in December, but last September students and teachers also held a special fundraiser for a young Barrhaven woman, Brynn Mclennan, who needs stem cell treatment for her muscular dystrophy.

“It was an outdoor show in the parking lot where the school is, then we had our big holiday concert in December so we’ve had two shows already,” said Martyn. “It was a lot of fun. The students love it. Performing in a concert inspire them, gives them motivation – and they love to see their teachers on stage.”

Getting a child to practice a music lesson and to enjoy music isn’t as difficult as many parents fear, said Martyn. It’s a combined effort on the part of the teachers and the parents.

“We’ve designed the program for every instrument to keep it fresh, keep it interesting, to make sure they’re not always playing the same kind of piece from the same book,” said Martyn. “We like to change it up, maybe throw in not just practical stuff, but some theory, ear training or games just to liven it up and keep their minds going.”

It’s important for parents to understand that a rigorous, hourly marathon of scales every day is not mandatory, a good five minutes is plenty for a beginner. “When they start, that’s all they really need. Just to get into the routine of doing it,” said Martyn.

“It’s quality over quantity when it comes to practicing. A good quality five or ten minutes every day is better than forcing them to practice for two hours on a Saturday when they really want to be playing outside.”

Both owners of the Barrhaven Music Academy have loved music since they were little, growing up in Old Barrhaven and attending John McCrae Secondary School, although Nadia is three years older than Ashley.

“I think I pretty much stole the guitar my mother had lying around the house,” laughed Ashley. “We always had music going on in our house. I did piano when I was growing up and I did trumpet in middle school so I always had music going on in my life. It was never very far out of reach.” Martyn has studied a world of genres and styles, including rock, pop, blues, jazz & classical, most notably under the Canadian guitar guru Anders Drerup.

Zaid has a Bachelor of Music degree from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Education from Ottawa University. Martyn has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Music with honours (2008) from University of Ottawa. Zaid has been teaching for ten years, Martyn for seven, both privately and at another music school. Both love music, and love teaching.

“We actually met working at another music school,” said Martyn, “but we wanted to teach music differently, to put our own stamp on it. In some schools it’s all about exam marks or how fast they can get through a method book. We want the students to really love music. We really want them to succeed so they will love music.”

The Barrhaven Music Academy is located in the Mulligan Centre at 2900 Woodroffe Ave. in Barrhaven The school is open Monday to Friday from 3 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone (613) 459-6027, e-mail info@barrhavenmusicacademy.com or visit the website at www.barrhavenmusicacademy.com for more information.

The importance of rhythm – and why all students should master it!

What is Rhythm?

The word ‘rhythm’ stems from the Greek word rhythmos, meaning “any regular recurring motion, or symmetry”. In music, rhythm is about when notes, chords, and other musical sounds begin and end. As a result, rhythm is the essential ingredient in all music.

No matter what instrument a student is learning, everyone needs good rhythmic foundation. Melodies, scales and chord patterns are all dependent on a piece’s rhythm. The importance of developing a strong sense of pulse or rhythm is a crucial element when learning to play – and being taught the basics of rhythm starts in the very first lesson.

And, as students’ progress, it will become easier for them to understand why something doesn’t sound exactly as it should – more often than not, it is rhythm which needs work or changing. By developing a good sense of rhythm students will be able to better identify when the pulse or beat is off.

Mastering rhythm is essential for many “rhythm section” instruments:  bass, drums, and rhythm guitar and piano. Even melodic parts, like vocals or lead guitar, need to understand the rhythm in order to play fluidly with accompaniment.

Learning Rhythm

Rhythm exercises should be a part of a student’s daily practice regimen.  Mix rhythm exercises together with scales, arpeggios, songs, and various techniques.

Here are some tips to develop rhythm:

1.    Use a metronome

While playing with metronomes will no doubt make everything tougher, it is a great way to get used to playing with an outside beat. Sometimes, when students tap the beat themselves, or count aloud, they unknowingly slow down in the harder spots, or speed up towards the end of a piece. Using a metronome will allow practicing with a steady, constant beat.

2.     Practice rhythmic exercises

Start out simple and work your way through more complex patterns. Clapping and counting rhythms out loud is a great way to become more comfortable with rhythms, especially for students who learn best through auditory methods. For visual learning, write in the rhythm (1 + 2 + 3 + 4+…) in before playing or clapping.

3.     Understand the time signature

Rhythm is expressed, stated, and describe with a time signature, which defines the note duration and time relationship. A rhythm in 4/4 time will be different than one in 6/8 time, so make sure you understand these values first, before counting or playing.

4.     Watch out for rests, ties and dotted notes

More complex rhythms will have these components which will increase difficulty.  Make sure to spot these tricky parts and work on them separately at first!

5.     Start slow

Any new rhythm should be practiced slowly, giving full value to all notes, rests and any other markings in between. Start as slow as needed so there are no unwanted pauses between sections or phrases – and challenge yourself to go faster once you have mastered a lower speed.

6.     Listen and play along

Listening to the piece before attempting to count, clap or play it will help your ear identify if you are doing it correctly or not. For another challenge, try playing along with the recording and see if you can match the rhythm, once you have a good grasp on it!

Not sure where to begin with your rhythm practice? Download the exercises below!

Exercise 1: Rhythms – Beginner

Exercise 2: Rhythms – Intermediate

Exercise 3: Sixteenth Notes

Exercise 4: Triplets

Exercise 5: Dotted Rhythms

Exercise 6: Syncopation

Save the date! Music 4 Brynn coming September 22, 2012

I’m more than happy to announce a little event I’m helping to organize for good friend Brynn Mclennan this fall.

Music 4 Brynn will aim to raise awareness for Brynn’s stem cells treatments and all those who battle Muscular Dystrophy across Canada.

To learn more about Brynn’s story, visit www.stemcellsforbrynn.com.

So what’s all the excitement about??

  • We’ll be rockin’ a stage with full audio from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm at 2900 Woodroffe Ave in Barrhaven;
  • Our amazing students and teachers will each perform a set of their favorite songs for family and friends;
  • We’ll have food, treats and other goodies to share; and,
  • Brynn and friends will be there to meet and greet everyone as they enjoy the show!

More details to come! In the meantime, mark your calendars!

Why you should get your piano tuned…regularly!

Piano is likely the most popular instrument for music students, especially for young beginners when choosing what musical direction to take first. That means a lot of parents will invest a great deal of money into buying an acoustic piano for their child to practice on and progress with, which is great in the long run and well worth the price.

However, many students, parents and teachers alike don’t realize how often a piano should be serviced. Once a year? Every time it’s moved? Many experts, including Ottawa-based Tuner-Technician Kazimier Samujlo, B. Mus., B. Ed., actually disagree with both answers. He recommends a piano be tuned at the change of every season. That means, in countries where the climate changes three or four times a year, your piano should be tuned each and every time.

Is it worth it, though?

The Piano Technician’s Guild (www.ptg.org) explains why it could be: Because your piano contains sensitive materials such as wood and felt, it’s affected easily by climatic conditions. Extreme swings in temperature can cause unrecoverable damage to the instrument. When the weather goes quickly from hot to cold, or dry to wet, the piano’s materials will warp and change, causing some parts to swell and contract. Ultimately, this can affect a piano’s tone, pitch, action response and touch.

On top of seasonal tunings, Samujlo goes one step further and often suggest his clients follow an all-around care routine for their beloved piano. “A regular maintenance program keeps your piano operating perfectly, makes the player happy and willing to practice more,” he explains on his website, http://www.manotickpianotuning.com.

Regular care involves the following practices to consider:

  • Keeping your piano clean. Clean the keys by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth and drying them immediately.
  • Avoid cleaning with aerosol spray polishes that contain silicone.
  • Maintain consistent temperature and humidity where your piano is placed. It’s important to keep your piano away from a heating register in winter, an air conditioning vent in the summer, a fireplace, a frequently opened window or outside door, and direct sunlight.
  • Play your piano regularly. Tuning a piano after years of not having been played often requires more repair than just a standard tuning, such as a pitch raise. As a piano ages without being used, it may begin to develop more major problems — like rebuilding or reconditioning.
  • Keep all food and drink away from the piano.
  • Select your technician with care (Hiring a certified piano technician, like Samujlo, is your best assurance.)
  • Never, ever, perform repairs yourself.
  • When it comes time to move, use only a professional piano moving company to do the job.

On top of regular tuning, a certified and experienced piano technician will be able to help sort out a handful of problems that you may encounter with your piano. Services often include refurbishing, restringing, cleanings and appraisals to make sure your instrument looks, feels and sounds as good as new.

Kazimier Samujlo is based in Manotick, Ontario, and provides piano tuning and repair services in and around the Ottawa area. To get in touch with him, call 613-692-2701 or visit his website.

Construction begins!

Construction began this week at our new location on 2900 Woodroffe Ave in Barrhaven. Our team will be working on site over the next few weeks to turn this space into brand new teaching facilities and prepare for our grand opening on July 2nd!

I’ll be posting updates as the renovations move along, so stay tuned!

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