The first-ever Canadian report on the state of music education

Report found funding needed to keep up with demand for quality music programs in our schools

Canada’s first-ever benchmark study on the state of music education was released in May 2005 and revealed schools across Canada desperately needed funding to keep up with the demand for music programs. The Coalition for Music Education in Canada (CMEC) conducted the Canada-wide survey to gauge the state of music programs in Canada’s schools.

The Coalition for Music Education in Canada commissioned The Hazelton Group to conduct the study, with the financial support of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), the Music Industries Association of Canada (MIAC), and the International Music Products Association (NAMM).

“While there is extensive research on the benefits of music education on young lives, there is very little research that examines the state of music education in Canada,” said Ingrid Whyte, the then executive director of the CMEC. “The results show that funds simply aren’t keeping up with the demand for music programs. Music classes are facing a hostile environment in the continuing struggle for adequate funding.”

The survey provides interesting comparative data between the provinces and territories in terms of the role of music in their schools and how these programs are being delivered.

Manitoba stands out as a leader in delivering quality music programs in their schools. Whyte said their success is the result of three things, “that music is part of the school timetable, it’s taught by music specialists, and it’s funded by the government.”

But the feedback from Ontario was alarming. Our most populous province faced the greatest challenges in delivering quality music programs. Ontario reported the highest percentage of non-music specialists teaching music in their schools, the lowest school board support rate of any of the provinces, and the largest decrease in government funding.

The role of the specialist music teacher was also of great concern right across the country with more than 50 per cent of respondents indicating they have non-specialists teaching music in Canadian schools, mostly at the elementary school level. Whyte said this has huge consequences for students, or as one respondent put it, “Students are coming into middle school and secondary programs almost musically illiterate.”

Some of the most valuable feedback came from hundreds of additional comments made by teachers and principals offering a unique opportunity to integrate quantitative and qualitative feedback resulting in data that is illustrated and supported by many personal experiences.

“The good news is that there seems to be more participation in music these days,” said Whyte. “That’s because kids want it, parents support it and principals recognize just how important music is to a child’s education and development. With more funding, we hope that all children will have access to quality music programs in their schools.”


English Music Report

Music Education and Music Monday Follow-Up Survey