Why Beyond the Beat is Different From Every Other School: David’s Journey

“I think it’s enough to just nurture love of music in a young child. I think that’s more important than anything. The real story of music is interaction with other musicians and the joy of playing together.” – David MacKenzie

Beyond the Beat is different from every other school in the world.

There are schools where kids learn an instrument to a certain level and never play again in their life. Even if they have a high skillset, something dies in the process. It’s not a place they want to go back to.

We believe in something different, and that’s cultivating a love for music for life.

Beyond the Beat is a music AND performance school. That’s why we play on stage more than any other school in the world. We have our own studio, and teach our students how to record from home for online lessons.

The collective energy in performing with each other and sharing music is what keeps our students inspired. Older students will play instrumentals with the younger ones, teachers will play with students, our whole school is like a giant band.

But how did our community start?

Here is the story from our founder, David MacKenzie on the journey of Beyond the Beat and our teaching philosophy.

“Music is the result of really good relationships.” – David MacKenzie

How did Beyond the Beat start?

“The whole journey with Beyond the Beat has been so improbable and fantastical. I don’t think I’m naturally inclined towards just the business side of life, but it’s the community that inspires me.

It actually began when my band broke up, and I was doing music on my own. Even though I could play my songs well and had some success, I felt alone and disconnected.

During that time, I was also teaching music at a school and loving that. I would go in with so much energy, and my students would give that energy back. They would bring their friends who wanted to meet me because they were so excited. 

At the same time, I didn’t like that the music school only had one or two concerts a year. I wanted to play with my students, but the school would only let me put three kids in. I wanted to put every kid in. The three kids I put in the show, they would come back hungry for more. The kids that weren’t in the would stop taking lessons.

Music is performance art, you work really hard and put it on stage. If there’s no end or reward to your labour you stop.

That’s why I decided to put on my own show.

Since my band broke up, I moved the school into my band’s old rehearsal space. I put on a concert with me and 22 students.

That show was the beginning of something special. I got on stage and played with every single student. The feedback I got from the parents was incredible, and the kids were so happy to get on stage. It was this incredible atmosphere, even if it could be stressful.

No one is ever ready to get on stage. You never feel like you’re good enough, but once you’re up there, the adrenaline and energy of performing keeps you coming back. It’s the feeling of a community supporting each other and getting a payoff from all the rehearsals.

Anyway, the moment we got off stage the phone was ringing off the hook. That’s how Beyond the Beat began.

As I look back at my life, I can honestly say the whole Beyond the Beat experience collectively is one of the best of my life.”

What is the typical student journey at Beyond the Beat?

“Beyond the Beat has a unique experience of students staying for 9 years or more. You won’t go to public school that long, or post-secondary and we’ve had a 100% success rate. We genuinely set them up to love music for life.

I remember teaching one student Josh, the guitar, and I wanted to show him how to put himself into every note. Every note is like a little life lived with a soul in it. You want everyone to be unique in the way they play. When I told him that, he just lit up. He got it!

Ultimately, I’m there to inspire hard work ethic, and I know the biggest growth happens on their own and playing with others. We’re really just here to guide them.

Even after students graduate, they are still a part of our community.
Josh learned guitar with us, we performed together, recorded an EP in our Beyond the Beat studio, and now he makes tutorials on our YouTube channel.

There’s been so many great relationships and real musicians that have grown up here. We inspire musicians that want to play for the rest of their life.

We have parents coming in with their kids out of other schools that don’t want to play the piano. Then when they play with us, it’s about enjoying the music and they continue.

I believe once a student and a teacher bond together over a shared love of a song, they’ll be hooked. It’s finding common ground, that’s the heart of the whole school. Cultivating that is magical to me.

I feel as inspired by teaching a 6-year-old their first ukulele chord as a complicated guitar solo with an intermediate student. Seeing someone learn to love music is what I’m here for.”

What are the requests you typically get from students and parents?

A lot of parents have been asking me how to record at home to enhance the experience of online lessons.

You really learn by recording. That’s how you get the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There are a lot of steps, but they are worth doing. Here are the three main points I usually tell parents and students.

  1. If possible, buy the right things. Instead of getting a bunch of little things, I’d recommend getting one great thing once that will last forever.

    Buy a great interface like the U.A Apollo Twin once.  I recommend universal audio, but there are other options online.

    There’s also affordable and free recording software to start. Get Garageband and try it out.
  2. Understand that recording is like learning the guitar. Day 1, not much is happening.

    You’ve got to learn a few chords. It’s a bit of an uphill battle.
    You put in one part at a time, it might not be that great. It’s like a party, once enough parts (people) show up, it feels a lot better than an empty room. It’s like a painting that goes a little sideways. Just step back, have a look, and see what the clouds are showing you.If you fight through it, there’s a moment when you get it all working. You hit record and play, hear it back and it’s so cool. All of a sudden, you realize you can do anything. You can sing. You can clap and record that a hundred times. Anything you want to hear can be part of the song.
  3. It’s a magical thing to hear yourself playing music. There’s no other way to know what you sound like. I remember recording myself for the first time, and when my friend and I played it back, we got really quiet. We realized we sucked, but that just made us want to practice more! That’s the beauty of home recording, you hear what you sound like.
    I once had a thirteen year old come in, just singing into the speaker. She recorded her vocals by singing into her laptop microphone and she programmed all the music without a keyboard. Her imagination was larger than this planet. Those songs of hers were little worlds of their own with characters that lived and breathed the same air as us. It was mind-blowing how great this kid’s music was. Kids can write music if you don’t get in the way.

    The moment is worth it.

Sometimes, you’ve got to download software and some drivers. Maybe the keyboard doesn’t talk to the software. But push through and it’s worth it.

Anything else you want to say to someone considering learning music?

There’s a place for everybody in music. We’ve all got a voice. You don’t have to be a perfect Mozart, music is about performing together and enjoying it.

I remember running home to practice with my guitar from my lessons. I was so excited to practice because I loved it so much, and that’s what I want to give to my students.

If you want to experience this magic for yourself, email info@beyondthebeat.ca to sign up today.