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The Sugar Beat Difference

Here are some of the differences that make our classes so special to the children and parents who attend them. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions!

  • No recorded music. Music recordings are great way to unwind, and they’re fun for a family music party. But unlike some other programs, we do not include recorded music in the classroom. Instead, our classes use the human voice (singing), unaccompanied live instruments (the recorder, auto harp or guitar), and participatory instruments that are suitable for children (like shakers, sticks, drums, bells, finger cymbals, and chime bars). There are several reasons for this approach. First, it encourages children of all ages to participate in music making, rather than overwhelm them with a “wall” of sound. Second, singing fits the timbre that infant ears are best able to hear, which means that it engages their attention and understanding in a way that recorded music cannot. (This is particularly true for very young children.) And third, this approach simplifies the music-making experience enough for children to imitate and participate. This allows young children to develop an understanding of musical concepts like beat and harmony, without these concepts ever being discussed–or even named–in the music class.
  • Our classes are age-specific. Children learn a variety of skills from peers of all ages. But because we limit each class to a relatively narrow age range, it’s possible to concentrate on the motor and aural skills that are best suited to that age group. And because children generally find the most developmentally appropriate activities to be the most engaging activities, this ensures that they will never be bored!
  • Our teacher is conservatory trained. To lead a children’s music class, teachers obviously need to be engaging, caring, and skilled singers. But at Sugar Beat, we believe a truly great music teacher is one who is formally trained in the pedagogy of music education. That includes a background teaching in a variety of schools, training at the Royal Conservatory, and accreditation in Orff and Kodaly music education. Check out our About Us page to learn more about what makes our teacher, Faria MacDonald, so special.
  • Our classes are unashamedly local. Faria launched Sugar Beat after the school she taught at for many years, YCCMMC, closed its doors. (YCCMMC, or Young Children’s Creative Music and Movement Classes, was a pioneering music school that is widely regarded as the first to offer group music classes for young children in Toronto.) Today, Sugar Beat operates exclusively in the Bloor West location, out of two locations: Swansea Town Hall for baby music classes, and the Windermere United Church for Orff classes and piano recitals. Be wary of other classes that use adjectives like “world reknown”–they might simply be a local franchise of a large business that sells music teaching kits to aspiring teachers.

COVID-19 Update: Piano Orff classes will not resume in 2020. Piano teaching continues via Zoom and will begin in-person in September for small numbers of students. Read our full update.