Continuing education programs in Montreal (2013)

Every year colleges and community centres in Montreal offer the inquisitive senior a chance to discover something completely different about themselves or to rediscover something they thought they had lost.

Here are a few of the newest adventures in store for the lifelong learner:

If you’ve ever gone to hear the tam-tams on Mount Royal—where percussionists gather on Sundays at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument to jam and socialize—and wished you could join but didn’t dare, head to Dawson College’s Centre for Training and Development to discover your inner drummer.

For the first time, a course is offered in the art of African Djembe drumming, focused on the basics of rhythm and leading the student through creative improvisation. The Djembe, from West Africa, is a single standing drum in various sizes, played with bare hands. It produces three basic tones, which, when played in intricate rhythms by a master drummer can sound like several drums with more than 25 different sounds. The effect is mesmerizing and you might discover a passion.

If it is words that enchant you, two new personal interest courses at Vanier College may awaken the poet/storyteller within. Limitation Creates Freedom concentrates on four styles of short fiction, which will be discussed, then explored within agreed-upon guidelines to create original pieces of writing. In Shaping Words, participants will see, read, hear and discuss poems in various styles. The final project will involve the compilation of a class chapbook (a simple hand-bound book) as well as a voluntary participation in a poetry reading.

For those who want excitement without commitment, the Cummings Centre offers numerous special events and one-day workshops covering a wide range of interests.

On May 22, in Meditation and Brain Health, Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes Your Brain, will address the important findings of several landmark studies and the positive neurological effects of meditation. It is the first of a three-part series on brain health.

In a lighter vein, April 17, a day-long workshop in creating unique jewelry through colour harmony beading will be offered.

Upcoming workshops include jewelry creation using polymer clay on April 18; mixing and matching gems and chains May 6, and discovering Kumihimo jewelry, created through a traditional Japanese technique of braiding using cord, thread or wool on a round disc form.

A lecture series will address aspects of music appreciation, a topic that is becoming increasingly appreciated at Cummings. April 10, the Sounds of Spain will be explored; May 8, the musical world of Leonard Bernstein will be revealed; May 22 the topic is chamber music.

The Cummings Centre has always had an intriguing lineup of courses and lectures on global affairs.

New this year is When Great Art Meets Great Evil April 30, which will feature art and music deemed “degenerate” by the Nazis because of its political content, the composer’s religion or political views.

The lecture will highlight how the Nazis used the idea of “degenerate” music, who was involved and how people coped with this barbarism.

For those who just want to have fun, award-winning filmmaker, writer and journalist Josh Freed will fill the bill on the evening of June 3.

Sometimes a good conversation is all that’s needed, and there are several groups and clubs that meet to socialize, such as the Circle of friends 50+, a group of active single women.

New this year is a widows and widowers’ support group beginning April 17.

Several trips and special events are coming up that are perfect for spring, such as trips to Ottawa’s

Byward Market on April 17 and Tulip Festival on May 6. On June 26, art lovers will want to join the Jewish Art Walking Tour, which will highlight some of the collections of Jewish Art in Montreal.

If you love Klezmer music, KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat is the place to be on August 21.

As well, a much-anticipated trip to Hudson Village Theatre is in the works.

Dawson: 514-931-8731; Vanier: 514-744-7500; Cummings Centre: 514-342-1234

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