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A Delicate Balance: Music Education in Canadian Schools

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November 4, 20104 November 2010

While there has been extensive international research on the benefits of music education for young people, there has been only limited research on the state of music education in Canada. A Delicate Balance, a ground-breaking report prepared by Hill Strategies for the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, suggests that schools across Canada desperately need funding to keep up with the demand for quality music programs.

“The results show that funds simply aren’t keeping up with the demand for music programs. It truly is a fragile balance of supports that are required and unfortunately, many of those supports are extremely challenged,” said Ingrid Whyte, Executive Director of the Coalition.

The survey was completed by 1,204 schools across Canada, and the report provides detailed information about a range of issues in music education. As one principal said, “I believe music is one of the most important things we can offer our school community”.

Survey respondents indicated that there have been challenges in terms of music funding, instructional space and the number of specialist teachers. Funding of music education is a key challenge in schools and has clearly not kept pace with demand. For most of the past decade, funding for music education has decreased in many schools while student participation has been rising.

On the other hand, there are glimmers of hope, as some schools have reported improvements in computer / recording technology, the number or quality of instruments, artist visits and student involvement in music.

The report, available below, also provides key provincial findings.

Based on the findings of the study, the Coalition for Music Education in Canada has developed a set of recommended actions to improve the state of music education in Canadian schools:

  • More funding for more schools
  • More qualified teachers in more schools
  • Continuing music advocacy
  • More support for generalist classroom teachers
  • Better training for generalist teachers through universities
  • Further research in schools with weaker music programs
Full Report

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