Updated: Jan 23
As we all know, The Great White North is a vast and beautiful land full of natural wonder. As we also all know, it can be very very cold. Winters in Toronto, while somewhat milder than those of, say Yukon, are still harsher than much of the world has to deal with. Walks in the park and trips to the CN Tower begin to lose their appeal come December and that couch in your living room starts to feel a whole lot cozier. But for many, boredom and stagnation eventually set in. How can you stay warm without encouraging lethargy and disengagement? Turn to music, of course!
1. Enjoy Live Music in Toronto
While it may be a chilly walk from your front door to the Lyft, once you’re packed into a crowded theatre pulsating with bass and rhythm, you may actually feel comfortable shedding some layers of outerwear. Concerts are a great way to engage in the greater community and music scene while supporting touring musicians and drawing inspiration from experience. They are also an excellent way to spend time with that friend you haven’t seen since July because, odds are, they’re probably cold and bored too. Enjoy your afternoon or night out dancing around in the lights and sounds of an exciting environment.
2. Record Player
As Adele’s new album just dropped, she negotiated a deal with Spotify for the app to hide the shuffle button on its page. Why? Because an overwhelming amount of musicians feel that the proper way to listen to music is by enjoying full albums front to back. Unfortunately, with the rise of music streaming and playlists, this undertaking has been significantly diminished. Even though sometimes you only have the time and/or desire to play a song or two cherry-picked from your favourite artists’ discographies, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the full story of an entire album. The intentionality of listening to records encourages and practically mandates this practice. Skipping around to and from desired tracks on an LP takes a whole lot more effort than it’s worth (seriously, good luck) and you, the listener, have to be present enough to flip or change the vinyl every twenty-ish minutes. Additionally, as any hard core record collector will tell you, the sound of digital will never fully amount to that of analog and every single album also serves as a displayable piece of art. If you need some vinyl to fuel your turntable, swing by some of our great local record shops like Sonic Boom, Kops, and Rotate This. Records provide a cozy and inviting ambiance that is sure to keep you happy in your home through the cold months.
3. Online Music Lessons Or Music Lessons In Toronto
We’ve all heard that it’s better to learn new things as a child because our brains are more impressionable in youth, but that’s no reason to give up as we grow older. Education builds confidence and keeps you motivated and encouraged as you progress. Learning an instrument is a particularly satisfying form of exercising your brain. With a little bit of practice you can learn how to play new and more complex songs every day, while improving at the basic rudiments and concepts. You essentially can watch and hear yourself learning. And in today’s day and age, you don’t even need to go anywhere because you can now take those piano lessons online. Forget searching “music lessons near me” - it’s far too chilly outside for that commute. Just order an instrument and enroll virtually, all from the comfort of your couch with the fire crackling beside you and your favoyrite mug full of hot cocoa.
4. Music Documentaries, Biopics and Memoirs
If you’ve ever listened to the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM, then you know that about a fifth of the music they play is actually by other older bands that influenced the Beatles. This goes to show that appreciating influence plays a key role in achieving greatness. Listening to musicians is obviously an important part of learning from them, but hearing their stories is a lesser talked about, but equally valuable, method. There exist thousands of excellent forms of media that illustrate the stories of famous and influential artists. Examples include documentaries (Amy, Long Strange Trip, Never Say Never), biopics (Notorious, The Doors, Walk the Line), and memoirs (Scar Tissue, Crying in H Mart, The Tao of Wu), and that’s just to name a small few. It doesn’t matter what kinds of music you like to enjoy nor what form of media you prefer to consume, there is a plethora of books, movies, shows, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc., out there just waiting for you to find them. Afterwards, you may well find yourself in a trend of listening to deeper tracks than you ever have of an artist you’ve always loved. You may even be pointed in the direction of new sources, leading to a never-ending chain of learning, influence and, most importantly, enjoyment, capable of combating the ever-feared February Blues.
5. New Genres
“I need new music” is uttered so often these days that someone might as well start printing it on T-shirts (not actually a bad idea) and that’s even with almost the entirety of recorded music available to our ears via our fingertips. So why do we continue to complain about a lack of fresh tunes? One large reason may be a simple lack of effort. If you listen to your Discover Weekly playlist every Monday hoping to hear novel and exotic sounds, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. The algorithms in Spotify and other music applications deliver you music that sounds like the stuff you already like, cornering you into a small alcove of the music universe. In order to keep your speakers bumping with novel waves, you’ve got to try a little harder by stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s so common for folks to write off entire genres of music, but the reality is that every genre has had long enough to morph and offshoot into a million different branches of that original common ground. To exclude an entire genre from your library is only limiting yourself because there may well be tracks, albums and/or artists within it that you’d truly love. So ask a friend with drastically different taste for song recommendations. Click a different tab on Apple Music than you usually do. Go to a show for a band you know nothing about. If you’re a musician, ask your teacher to educate you on something new and unfamiliar. William Cowper famously said, “Variety is the spice of life,” and we all know we could use some spicing up, especially in the dark and stoic months of the year.
Turn these five tips into practices or pick and choose your favourites because, as they say on a certain wildly famous show, winter is coming. Hopefully these ideas will keep you warm, smiling and entertained. If you’ve got any more ways that music can help us get through The 6ix’s chilly season, comment them down below because we’re all in this together.
This post was written by GTMS staff writer, Will Mayer.