Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Surveying Multicultural Courses in Canadian Music Teacher Education Programs: A Theme Calling for Future Variations

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Surveying Multicultural Courses in Canadian Music Teacher Education Programs: A Theme Calling for Future Variations

Article excerpt


The collective image of Canadian music is built upon the many, continually evolving diasporas, each with its own fluid, complex, and contextual musical identity (Diamond, 2000). Teaching music from diverse cultural perspectives thus continues to be a vital part of Canadian music education. Doing so should remove disadvantage (Drummond, 2005) and empower students by being proactively anti-racist (Bradley 2007). Although we look to individual music teachers to do this, Howard, Swanson, & Campbell (2014) state that the responsibility of cultural diversity in music education is "shared between institutions and individuals (p. 36). According to Volk (1998), "until there is change to a multicultural perspective at the collegiate level, teachers will continue to teach from the Western perspective, as they have been taught" (p. 160). Thus, as music education at large shapes students' identities (Bowman, 2001), so do Canadian post-secondary music education programs shape the musical identities of Canadian music educators (Dawe, 2005).

With the proper collection of data and research evidence on the current curriculum (both explicit and hidden), Canadian colleges and universities can better direct the future directions of how they prepare music teachers for the multicultural classroom. Surprisingly, despite several US-based research studies in this area (Chin, 1996; Miralis, 2002; Okun, 1998), there is a paucity of data in Canada. Thus, research relating to the current needs and gaps in multicultural music education curriculum in post-secondary is needed.

In this article, I describe a study surveying the multicultural music education courses from various institutions and propose several directions this data can be taken to for future research. For this study, multicultural courses are defined as any music or education course that provide students the opportunity to develop an appreciation for music and culture outside the Western classical and Jazz traditions. The objective of this study was to determine the different kinds of multicultural courses that currently exist in Canadian music education programs.


The study used a cross-sectional study design and was carried out in two phases. The first phase was the selection of universities offering undergraduate music education programs. The second was the investigation of courses through the course calendars made publicly available from faculties or departments of music (and education where applicable) of the institutions selected. Courses were categorized using a modified version of Miralis' (2002) research method which surveyed the music courses of 10 US universities and classified them to the following categories: (i) survey, (ii) geographic, (iii) interdisciplinary, (iv) ethnomusicological and theoretical, (v) performance, (vi) pedagogical, (vii) multicultural, and (viii) intracultural.

Sample Selection

Universities offering music education programs were identified using the website and were selected using the 2014 enrollment data from Universities Canada (formerly the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada). Music education programs from the following 20 universities were included: Acadia University, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Brock University, University of Laval, University of Lethbridge, University of Manitoba, McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Université de Moncton, University of Ottawa, University of Prince Edward Island, Université du Québec a Montréal, Queen's University, University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Western University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and University of Windsor. For Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and British Columbia, only one university was selected from each province, as they were the only institutions that offered music education programs. …

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