The strings of an acoustic guitar are seen in this staged photograph captured on Jan. 23, 2022. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

A stroll through downtown Fredericton reveals a city steeped in music – from the Tipsy Muse Café open mics to live music from The Cap. 

The Fredericton Public Library is adding to this vibrant community through a partnership with Sunlife Financial and Artistworks, offering free virtual music lessons. Artistworks is a curated database that provides music lessons hosted by trained professionals. The Artistworks database is available in other libraries across Canada.

Julia Stewart, the director of the Fredericton Public Library, is excited about what this program will add to the city.

“Fredericton has music in its soul … music runs through it. We have musical venues all over the place where people can listen to live music or participate. So, offering this new program just makes sense,” said Stewart.

Using a library login, Fredericton residents will have access to over 30, self-paced, pre-recorded instrument and singing lessons from expert musicians and artists. The lessons are mostly geared towards adult learners.

This new database complements the instrument-lending program that has been in place at the Fredericton Library since 2018. Instruments can be borrowed from the downtown facilities, as well as at the Oromocto and Nashwaaksis libraries.

“You can get the instrument for free from the library and borrow it for three weeks, just like a book … We have lots of resources to support the collection itself, but Artistworks just makes it that much easier because you actually have the support of a professional musician teaching you how to do things with that instrument,” said Stewart.

Taryn McCoy, a third-year music student at STU, said this new program is important because it might help more Fredericton residents pursue their passions.

“[This database] is an amazing resource because access to music education is a privilege. Some of the most amazing musicians have come from places of poverty and places of hardship, one of the most famous ones is Louis Armstrong,” said McCoy

She said the program is helpful as people are finding themselves at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Music is such a relationship builder,” said McCoy. “There’s so much that music can do for us and our communities. It is a way that we have told stories and connected with people for centuries. Music has been a part of our lives as long as humans have existed and being a part of that music community … is really important during this time.”