The Coalition for Music Education in Canada has just filled in another large gap in information and understanding about arts education.
The research for their Music in our Schools Report, available here, was conducted in the spring of 2010 by Hill Strategies with support from Business for the Arts, Musicounts and the McLean Foundation. It aims to champion areas of excellence, identify areas of opportunity and reveal the challenges in music education – which, not surprisingly, are huge.
The report is from the perspective of schools – specifically 1,204 school principals – across the country. They were asked whether their music programs have appropriate funding, are able to attract student interest and time, use a specialist music teach, and have appropriate instruments and space, as well as a supportive principal and parents.
As we learn, it’s A Delicate Balance – which can be disrupted if a qualified teacher moves, or if obesity concerns lead to Phys Ed becoming a higher priority, or enrolment drops. While the perceived benefits of music education in the schools are clear (from increased self-esteem and confidence, to developing self-discipline, nourishing creativity, and growing appreciation of the arts
form), appropriate funding is hard to come by. Parental support and advocacy is crucial.
How should we in Ontario feel about this? Not too good. Our schools consistently rate themselves comparatively low in the strength of their music education programs – ranking towards the bottom among provinces – and they have the lowest proportion of elementary schools with a specialist music teacher.
Congratulations to the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and Executive Director Ingrid Whyte for raising these issues, and for working to build a country where the lives of all children are enriched by high-quality school music programs, and where their active participation in music is valued and supported in our communities.
As for those of us in Toronto and the rest of Ontario: how can we help meet those goals here?