National Music Centre
After seeing the newly opened National Music Centre on the second episode of this season's Amazing Race Canada, I knew it would be a fun place to check out. I wanted to make sure it was kid-friendly, but I wasn't able to find out very much information online. Still, I trusted that it would have exhibits and activities for kids, so my husband and I took the boys on August 7, 2016. Studio Bell (home of the National Music Centre), is located at 850 4 St SE (Calgary, Alberta), and is open from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is $18 for an adult, $14 for a student/senior, $11 for kids ages 3-12, and free for kids under 3 (prices do not include GST). In my review, I won't be covering all of the exhibits, just the ones that would be of interest to kids/the ones we saw before the boys let us know it was getting too close to nap time! My husband and I will have to go back again kid-free to explore all the other areas.
We were told at the admission desk that the top 3 levels (5, 4, and 3) were the best for kids, so we started the morning off by taking the elevator to Level Five: Celebrating Music. This floor showcases Canadian musicians, artifacts, costumes, and memorabilia. In particular, I loved seeing the intricately rhinestoned and embellished Hank Snow stage outfit. There were several pianos that my son was able to play, including the one below with its fun paint job. We did a quick loop around this level because the kids weren't particularly interested in the displays and preferred pressing the elevator buttons instead!
Level Four: Making Music, was our favourite floor. There were instruments set up for anyone to play, with accompanying screens to give a free lesson based on experience level. My son had fun playing the drums and guitar, but at age two, it was definitely too early for lessons! The highlight of the floor was the Soundbox stage with "Make Music" written in funky lettering. It had a wall with pegs, rubber bands, wrenches, cowbells, and other everyday materials that kids could grab a drum stick and explore making sounds on. The room was also filled with bongo drums and obscure musical instruments, and had a microphone and synthesizer. The final stop on the fourth floor was to a giant screen that played sounds based on your arm movements.
On Level Three: Power of Music, you can grab a stool and listen to music with the provided headphones. You can even leave a postcard on how the songs made you feel. This was another floor that we quickly covered, but other exhibits include instruments used to make sound affects and a voice stage showcasing various types of music genres.
Level Two: Music Mosaic, houses the BMO Soundscapes stage - a 360 degree audio visual experience that displays iconic Canadian music and regional landmarks. Another highlight is the 300-seat performance hall. You can see that my son chose the best seat in the house! He had a great time at the National Music Centre and his younger brother was too young to know what was going on, but he was certainly amused by his older brother making music! We will definitely go back again as a family once they're older, and my husband and I hope to catch a live concert on a future date night!