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A Report on Music in Canadian Universities

  • PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40373215

There are in Canada, at this moment, some twenty-four universities and colleges offering undergraduate degrees in music; seven offer master's degrees, and four, doctorates. The country has a scant twenty million people, but even in relation to this small population, the number of institutions involved with music is too small. Music has not yet achieved in Canadian universities the importance it has in those of Europe and America. Happily, the ideological battle has been recently won. Schools throughout the country are initiating instruction or expanding their existing programs in music as fast as money and faculty can be found.

The turning-point came between 1940 and 1950. Before this, and from their establishment, the music faculties of the Canadian universities were strongly, perhaps excessively, under the influence of British traditions. British-born musicians brought to Canada the limited interests of their métier—they were almost without exception church organists—and the attitudes of Victorian England, attitudes which, in all fairness it must be admitted, had contributed to the musical aridity of the Mother Country. These men formulated for Canada outmoded curricula modeled after those of their own education, with strong emphases on academic counterpoint and harmony. Music history, musicological research and contemporary compositional procedures were too much neglected. Such music programs were irrelevant and unproductive; music faculties remained small and unimportant adjuncts to the universities. During the 1939 war, and after it, Canadians increasingly accepted international immigration and influence. Europeans, Americans and finally, Canadians, began to be appointed to university positions. These men found it possible to make changes. The country began to be less provincial about music, became eclectic, in fact, and began belatedly to create a national, or, at least, contemporary, music culture. The contribution of the universities has been very great in Canada and will continue to be, for culture is largely an intellectual creation in a country without ancient traditions.

The tendency of most Canadian music departments and faculties—and in this the American influence is felt—is to be expansive, and to incorporate musical activities ignored by British and European universities. So, performance and composition have found a place of growing importance as subjects of concentration. The training of performers in the universities is recent in Canada. In the past, the highest achievement in musical performance has been recognized by a conservatory diploma. Conservatories have played a very important part in the Canadian musical life, particularly owing to the system of graded examinations, which for many years have been offered by the larger institutions in a great many local centres, even very remote ones. The system was borrowed from England, but proved especially useful in a country of vast distances. The travelling examiners, often internationally prominent, and the uniform examinations, provided reasonably impartial evaluation of students and teachers, and a set of generally understood and accepted standards of achievement—even though the syllabuses tended to have a restrictive influence. Canada has always contributed more singers and instrumentalists to the international scene than might be expected from the size of her population, from Emma Albani and Kathleen Parlow to Maureen Forrester and Glenn Gould, and this tradition continues unabated. In time, however, it has become apparent that the old conservatory training does not educate musicians broadly or thoroughly enough to come to terms with the realities of contemporary musical life. The major conservatories have come under the control of the universities, and the university degree in performance is replacing the conservatory artist's diploma.

Composition has become a popular subject of concentration. This is, in part, a reflection of the Nation's principal musical aspirations, but important too has been the wide freedom in the choice of idiom—from the most traditional to the most progressive—that the universities, in spite of the conservatism of their past, allow the students. Four schools, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Simon Fraser in Burnaby, McGill in Montréal, and the University of Toronto, have very well equipped electronic studios. For both composers and performers the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offers special opportunities. A national company, supported by Federal funds and not by commercial interests, it maintains (across the country) staff orchestras and recital series which are accessible to professors and students. The CBC is an institution of inestimable importance to music in Canada. For one thing, it is the principal patron of composers, offering, yearly, commissions for large and small works, from operas to sonatas. And through it the activities of musicians—composers, performers and scholars—are made known to the whole of the country, and the isolation of many of the cities is mitigated.

Musicology and theory are well established. The libraries for these subjects, in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver at least, are very good, and all the universities with music programs are increasing such holdings rapidly. The day has passed when musicology was the monopoly of a few very old schools. Modern reproduction techniques and a great activity in the reprinting of standard reference works, collected editions, historical sets and journals have made it possible for libraries to assemble in only a few years, astonishingly good collections.

The organization of the departments and faculties of the Canadian universities is like that in America—with similar ranks, i.e., associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, etc., and a similar system of tenure. However, in most cases the school year is arranged differently. Canadians are accustomed to thinking in terms of years completed, rather than quarter-, third-, or half-year credits. The year is mercifully short, extending from about mid-September to about the end of April, but there are few interruptions, and the number of days in session of American and Canadian universities is roughly the same. Summer sessions have seldom received more than token attention, and even where effort has been made to promote them the response has been disappointing. The tradition of the long holiday is well entrenched—perhaps more for economic than recreational reasons. Students, the men, at least, are usually able to earn enough during the summer to pay fees and to support themselves through the term. Nevertheless, semester, trimester and quarter systems may in the future become more common.

Entrance standards for American and Canadian universities are similar—the students of either country being about equally prepared by their secondary schools. Some of the provinces do have a grade thirteen, that is, a fifth high-school year. But this is, or is becoming, optional. Students who complete the supernumerary year are generally better prepared in languages and literature; but educators are now questioning its value, and universities in Canada are beginning to accept students who have graduated from a four-year secondary school, be it from another province or from the United States.

Following is a table which lists the Canadian universities and colleges offering programs in music, the degrees they offer, and the subjects of concentration which may be elected. Canada is presently enjoying a period of great expansion, and new music programs—even new universities—come into being yearly. This list, it is hoped, will soon be in need of lengthening.

Acadia University   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  (Wolfville, N.S.)   B.Mus. Performance
      M.M. Music Education

 

University of Alberta   —B.A. Composition and Theory
  (Edmonton)   B.Mus. Church Music
      B.Ed. (Music Major) Performance
      M.Ed. (Music Major) Music Education

 

Brandon University   —B.Mus. General Music
  (Brandon, Man.)     Music Education
        Performance

 

University of   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  British Columbia   B.Mus. General Music
  (Vancouver)   M.Mus. Music History
      B.Ed. (Music Major) Performance
      M.Ed. (Music Major) Music Education
      Ed.D. (Music Major)  

 

University of Calgary   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  (Calgary, Alta.)   B.Mus. Music History
      B.Ed. (Music Major) Performance
        Music Education

 

Dalhousie University   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  (Halifax, N.S.)   B.Mus.Ed. Music Education

 

Université Laval   —B.A. (Music Major) Church Music
  (Québec, P.Q.)   B.Mus. Composition and Theory
      M.Mus. Music History
      D.Mus. Performance
      B.Ed.Mus. Music Education

 

University of   —B.Mus. Composition and Theory
  Lethbridge     Performance
  (Lethbridge, Alta.)     Music Education

 

University of Manitoba   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  (Winnipeg)   B.Mus. Performance
        Music Education

 

Marianopolis College   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  (Montréal, P.Q.)      

 

McGill University   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  (Montréal, P.Q.)   B.Mus. Music History
        Performance
        Music Education

 

McMaster University   —B.Mus. Music Education
  (Hamilton, Ont.)      

 

Université de Montréal   —B.Mus. Composition and Theory
  (Montréal, P.Q.)   D.Mus. Music History
        Performance

 

Mount Allison University   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  (Sackville, N.B.)   B.Mus. Music History
      B.Ed. (Music Major) Performance
        Music Education

 

Notre Dame University   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  (Nelson, B.C.)      

 

Collège de Sacré-Coeur   —B.Mus. Performance
  (Sherbrooke, P.Q.)      

 

Collège de Musique   —B.Mus. Performance
  Saint-Croix   M.Mus.  
  (Québec, P.Q.)      

 

St. Francis Xavier   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  University      
  (Antigonish, N.S.)      

 

University of   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  Saskatchewan   B.Mus. Performance
  (Regina)   B.Mus.Ed. Music Education
      B.Ed. (Music Major)  

 

University of   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  Saskatchewan   B.Ed. (Music Major) Music History
  (Saskatoon)     Music Education

 

University of Toronto   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  (Toronto, Ont.)   M.A. (Music Major) Performance
      Ph.D. (Music Major) Music History
      Mus.Bac. Music Education
      Mus.M.  
      Mus.Doc.  

 

University of Victoria   —B.Mus. Composition and Theory
  (Victoria, B.C.)   B.Ed. (Music Major) Performance
        Music Education

 

University of   —B.A. (Music Major) Composition and Theory
  Western Ontario   B.Mus. Music History
  (London, Ont.)     Performance
        Music Education

 

University of Windsor   —B.A. (Music Major) General Music
  (Windsor, Ont.)   Mus.Bac. Music Education
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Last modified on Wednesday, 14/11/2018