Address: East Village – 850 4 Street SE
Cost: Adult $18, Youth (3-12) $11, Under 3 free
Membership break event point: Adult membership breaks even on the 4th visit. Family Membership (2 adults, 2 kids) breaks even on the 2nd visit.
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10-5pm (extended days during the summer. Check website for most up to date information)
Parking: Paid parking lots near the building
Age Range: All ages. Although it is not aimed at young kids, preschoolers with a fondness for music will be able to be entertained for a short visit.
Stay Length: 2-3 hours. If you have younger children, you could hit the highlights in 90 minutes.
The exhibits of Studio Bell are spread across 5 floors. The fourth floor is the the most kid oriented so I recommend starting a the top and working your way down. The architecture of the building is beautiful both inside and out – it’s a really lovely space to explore.
Level 5 – Celebrating Music
This floor is dedicated to Canadian musicians.
The Cloud – has instruments on the ceiling that are set up to play sounds that change based on the sun. It will probably go over the heads of younger kids, but school-age kids will probably find it interesting.
There are lots of music stations set up where you can put on headphones and explore clips from different Canadian musicians. My kids really enjoyed this interactive features.
There are also some beautiful displays including instruments and artifacts such as performance costumes. My mom really enjoyed the trip down memory lane.
Level 4 – Making Music
There are a lot of instruments on display but what my kids really enjoyed was the musical instrument stations. There are two sections, Unplugged and Plugged In that both have corresponding instruments.
It was pretty quiet on the day we went but I imagine on busier days you will have to wait to try the different instruments.
My three year old enjoyed trying out the instruments a lot but it was right on the edge of his ability and patience.
At each instrument there are tutorials that you can go through that teach you how to play but none of my kids really used them on our visit.
The instruments are set up so the sound is fed through the headphones so the room isn’t as loud as you might expect.
There are also a couple stations where you can mix music tracks.
This is the kids area – it’s not a huge space but it is really hands on. One of the things they try to show the kids is that you can make musical instruments out of every day objects.
In this space, kids can play, build and explore musical concepts.
This exhibit lets you make music with your body.
There is also an area featuring keyboard instruments including one you can play.
Level 3 – Power of Music
The highlight of level 3 is the Kimball Theatre Organ. It has daily showtimes and is definitely worth planning your visit around. It was very cool to see, but hard for my 3 year old to sit through.
My youngest really loved singing in the vocal booth. It also has a tutorial but you can just sing into the microphone if you want to instead.
Listen – has many different sets of headphones that you are to put on and think about how it makes you feel.
Level Two – Music Mosaic
This floor includes a performance hall as well as Soundscapes – a whimsical exploration of the Canadian Landscape through music and video.
Level 1 – Canada Music Square
The Drop-in Zone can help you plan your visit but I would probably not bother spending the time if I was visiting with kids. Also in this space, however, is a piano you can play and a player piano.
Although much of the music is not really geared towards kids, overall, we really enjoyed our visit. I found it to be a bit of a stretch for my youngest – preschoolers may enjoy it but it will depend on their patience and interest in music.