Music Education in Canada: A Snapshot Report

By Stathopoulos, Theodora | The Canadian Music Educator, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Music Education in Canada: A Snapshot Report


Stathopoulos, Theodora, The Canadian Music Educator


In December 2009, the International Coalition requested a brief updated picture of music making activities around the world for the January 13, 2010 meeting of NAMM. The CMEA executive responded to the call by providing feedback obtained from Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Canadian provincial associations affiliated with CMEA as well as from ministry of education officials and university education department chairs of non-affiliated provinces.

The survey consisted of four questions:

* What is your country's national level approach towards music education?

* Is music compulsory in any aspect of the school curriculum?

* How is music delivered in each province and territory?

* Are there examples of programs or activities that are leading to better provision/improved quality of music learning in your country?

More than one individual responded for certain provinces and the answers were compiled. In some cases answers were translated from French to English. The data found in this report was collected, compiled and translated by CMEA Vice President Theodora Stathopoulos with assistance from Immediate Past President Mary Dinn, President Ed Wasiak, and Secretary-Treasurer Eric Favaro.

What is your country's national level approach towards music education?

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), recognizes all four arts' disciplines (dance, drama, music and visual arts) as equal. However, since education is a provincial jurisdiction, policies regarding the role of the arts in schools are the responsibility of the provincial Ministries of Education. Therefore, all provincial governments have policies and guidelines with regard to the teaching of all four arts and some enforce mandatory music education.

There are national associations that support music specialists, including the Canadian Music Educators' Association, the Canadian Music Teachers' Association (private teachers), the Canadian Band Association, Orff, Kodaly, Suzuki, Choral, Orchestras Canada (in support of community youth orchestra programs) and the Coalition for Music Education in Canada. There are numerous other national organizations as well as NGOs that promote advocacy for each discipline of arts education (both curricular and extra-curricular, early childhood education and continuing education for life-long learning).

Is music compulsory in any aspect of the school curriculum?

Canada has ten provinces and three territories. For the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, music education is compulsory in elementary schools. Conversely, in the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, music education is not mandatory. For the Yukon Territory, music education is compulsory in elementary schools.

How is music delivered in each province and territory?

* Please note that a few districts use a middle school configuration. Program delivery is similar to the elementary model.

ALBERTA

The Alberta government is currently initiating curriculum reform, which is very worrisome and has created a furor among arts educators. The proposed changes would make teaching the arts more 'generalist friendly' and encourage students to explore many options without actually focusing on any given discipline.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Music is a provincially mandated part of the curriculum from K-7. It is expected that the Fine Arts (music, dance, drama, and visual arts) curriculum is followed by all elementary students (the documents are signed by the Minister of Education). Music is taught by a specialist where one is available (in less than 25% of the Districts) - otherwise it is the responsibility of a classroom teacher. Depending on the values of a district or school-based administrator, students may receive anywhere from 20-60 minutes per week. The curriculum dictates outcomes, not an amount of time spent experiencing music. …

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