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Music & Traveling

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

I grew up with two parents who love music so it’s always been a big part of my life. My father is a die hard Beatles fan and my mother loves Motown music so growing up, there was always music playing in the house. I began taking piano lessons in Toronto around the age of six and showed a keen interest and knack for rhythm, so around the age of 11 my parents enrolled me for drum lessons in Toronto as well. I loved a lot of the music I was exposed to by my parents and also, as most kids do, developed some musical interests of my own and now have a pretty eclectic music collection with music spanning most genres and eras.

For the last several years, I have maintained a busy touring schedule with my band, After Funk, a Toronto based funk, rock & soul quartet. We perform at clubs and festivals all over and have been fortunate enough to share the stage with groups like Walk Off The Earth, Snarky Puppy, Lettuce and received praise from legendary bassist and funk pioneer, Bootsy Collins. As a professional musician, most of my traveling has been for performing so music, for me, is the reason why I have been able to travel so much. As a result, I have always considered the relationship between music and travel. Whether it’s because of the time I’ve spent on tour, because I usually have music playing or because I’ve discovered so many new songs or artists on my travels, for me, the two go hand-in-hand.

Teachers giving music lessons in Toronto

Music Brings You Back

Music is embedded deep within every culture . It is an important component in celebrations and ceremonies, and for many people plays a significant role in everyday life. Music has the ability to motivate us to exercise or make us want to curl up and go to sleep. It can have an immense power over our moods making us happy or sad, calm or anxious, excited and energized to name just a few. A familiar tune can be so powerful that we can seemingly return to an exact moment in time, smelling the smells and feeling the feels. If you have ever experienced this, you know how impactful this can be.

For me, the sound of the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument that is often referred to as the most expressive drum in the world, brings me right back to the ancient, colourful and culturally rich streets of Varanasi, India. I am almost able to smell the spices, incense and taste the delicious and piping hot samosas being served on the side of the road. If you are interested in learning more about the tabla, you can contact us for online tabla lessons. When I hear the song Jimmy Jimmy Acha Acha, I’m whisked back to beautiful Palolem Beach in Goa and can almost feel the sand from the Arabian Sea between my toes and visualize my cozy beach hut that I called home for a short while. When I hear the sound of the Egyptian darbuka, a popular drum with a very recognizable tonal quality, I immediately envision the long dahabiya boat cruising along the dark water of the Nile River, music blasting and our hosts dancing and singing in Arabic as their cigarettes burn constantly. One listen to Shaggy’s Hey Love brings me back to a time when my bandmates in After Funk and I were having an extremely silly sing along in our van following a performance in Alexandria Bay, NY. Billy Cobham’s Red Baron takes me back to a music festival in the beautiful mountains of British Columbia. When I reflect on the time that I’ve spent traveling, my fondest memories are associated with songs and sounds.

The magic of music is special in its ability to transport us back to these memorable places from our past. If there are any songs that have this effect on you, please let us know in the comments. Learning to play these songs on an instrument can provide an even more powerful experience. If you’re looking for music lessons in Toronto, contact us and we can help.

Exposure to Different Cultures

Whether we are aware of it or not, music is intrinsically linked to each culture’s history. Just think about it, each country has their own national anthem, their own instruments and sounds and rhythms native to that area. Studying music from around the world can be fascinating and can provide you with a meaningful and unique experience. It can be particularly exciting if you have the opportunity to study music native to the country where you are traveling. Earlier this year, I spent some time in India where I began my study of tabla and Hindustani classical music, arguably the most rhythmically complex music in the world. I have fallen in love with the instrument and enjoy daily practice sessions and weekly lessons with Greater Toronto Music School’s own tabla maestro, Jaisen. Classes have been fun, challenging and rewarding and informative. I have gained much rhythmic vocabulary and a stronger sense of time which can be applied to my main instrument, the drum kit, and have learned to be more patient. If you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust and are unable to travel, as most of us are during these trying times, studying a culture’s music offers an exciting and unique way to experience that culture from the comfort of your own home. If you’re interested in studying music from other parts of the world, you can contact us for music lessons in Toronto or online music lessons.

Music is History

Music can serve as a time capsule of sorts. Listening critically and analyzing the language, any slang used, the lyrical content and the tonality of the music can reveal so much about where and why it came about. Music also influences fashion so a look back at old concert videos or old photos of an artist will certainly be indicative of the era from which that music came. The lyrics of Ice Cube’s It Was a Good Day have been studied and it has been determined that he is rapping about January 20th, 1992. This is quite interesting considering that he does not mention this date or even the year at all in the song. Music teaches us about languages, even ones that we cannot speak and serves as a universal language, allowing us to communicate when speaking cannot. If I asked you to speak in Spanish, you might struggle but I bet you understand when I say Feliz Navidad or could sing the Macarena without any issues! It’s interesting to note that music is linked to celebration across all cultures and is strongly linked to our personal identities so fans of similar styles or artists might also share other interests and philosophies.

Traveling Inspires Music

Traveling can inspire bright new ideas from experienced musicians and it can influence a beginner to pick up an instrument and start creating. Traveling has influenced lyrics, rhythms, harmony, melodies and just about every other aspect of music. For instance, the shuffle beat, a common beat used in blues music, was originally created to mimic the sound of the trains that came in and out of the station and was sometimes even referred to as the ‘train beat’. Can you think of any other sounds that may have influenced the creation of a beat or rhythm? If you can, please let us know in the comments of this post. Traveling can inspire exciting new fusions of music from different cultures. After the Beatles spent some time in India, they came back and created music with a much more psychedelic vibe, incorporating the sitar to help achieve this effect. Musicians like Michel Camilo and Avishai Cohen are also known for blending genres, creating unique fusions of jazz and music from their native countries. Living in a city like Toronto, which is such a melting pot, we are fortunate to have world class musicians from all over the world collaborating and sharing ideas, yielding fresh sounding groups and musicians. Some famous songs that were inspired by traveling and adventure include Daft Punk’s Around The World, Johnny Cash’s I’ve Been Everywhere, and Estelle’s American Boy.

Next time you are planning a trip, consider researching the native music of the country you plan to visit. Try to familiarize yourself with the instruments that they use, the sound that they make and rhythms of that culture. Find out who the best local musicians are and where and when they perform. Schedule time for these performances in your itinerary and try to take the time to speak with the musicians. Let them know you appreciate what they are doing, ask them questions about their music and their journey, they will be overjoyed to share with you. You stand to gain valuable information about the history of a culture. Remember that music brings people together and attending a concert will offer a great opportunity to meet like minded individuals in a country that you are not familiar with. These people will be able to offer advice on the best sites to see, places to eat and the best nightlife in their city. You might be surprised at some spontaneous and unexpected adventures and new friendships that will last a lifetime.

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