Dustin Ballinger knows guitars. With a degree in applied music and jazz guitar, extensive experience recording music with local musicians, and 15 years of performing under his proverbial belt, Ballinger approaches the instrument with ease and familiarity. “I have always believed that music lessons of any kind should be fun and friendly as well as challenging,” he says. He backs up his belief by leading his roster of classes with an encouraging and dedicated approach. Lessons unfold in a cozy, homey studio space complete with couches, rustic wooden accents, and windows that look out onto sparrows trained to sing the guitar parts from “Free Bird."
In 4Cats Arts Studio's workshops, children ages 5–12 learn to sculpt, craft, and paint masterpieces in the energetic confines of a professional arts studio. In non-competitive workshops, fingers take a break from the ennui of pencil-limited schooldays to mould clay into a sandcastle, sculpt polymer into an owl perched on a tree, or paint a Van Gogh–inspired flower pot. Kids help paint achieve its kinetic potential in the Pollock Room, where brushes fling paint and technicolor acrylics shower canvases. History too takes a front seat, as expert curators recount humorous stories about the life and work of famous artists. Young apprentices craft their masterpieces using provided professional-quality art materials, such as polymer clay, acrylic paint, and tips from a talking bust of The Thinker.
Ontario Truck Driving School provides more than the name suggests. The school trains students for all commercial vehicle licenses as well as for heavy equipment operation. Safety and lift operator courses have also become complements to our larger program selections.
Judging from the hordes of magpies waddling outside its windows, Ancient Beads is obviously full of shiny objects. Pegboards line the walls, gridded with tiny baggies of gleaming Swarovski crystals and glass beads in all colors. Semi-precious stones and wooden baubles stand ready to be thread into delicate lengths of wire.
During more than 125 classes, visitors learn the finer points of jewelry-making from experienced threaders, including such techniques as glass fusing, chainmaille, and macramé.