Meri’s Musical Musings

Differences between American and Canadian school music programs

Posted on: March 2, 2013

During the time I have been observing what they do in Canadian music education in schools versus what they do in the US, I am finding there are major differences between Canadian and US music education, and the differences are what makes US music education far superior to the Canadian ones in general.

Canada: Music Ed is guaranteed funding
US: Funding is mainly given to programs that are strong

Canada: Teachers are generally required to stay quiet about students struggling in the music program and recommending private lessons, and are only allowed to suggest teachers if the parents or students request them in band and orchestra programs.
US: Students are often STRONGLY recommended or even REQUIRED to do private lessons for participation in the honours ensembles

Canada: Students start band no earlier than Grade 5, and usually Grade 6 or 7
US: Students often start in Grade 4, sometimes Grade 3, rarely later than Grade 5. String programs usually begin a year or two earlier.

Canada: Schools generally own a set of instruments
US: Students are generally required to own or rent an instrument

Canada: Students know maybe one or two scales by the end of the first year in most school programs.
US: Students often know several scales, and sometimes the chromatic scale is learned in as little as 3-4 months, which usually takes at least 2 years in Canadian music programs.

Canada: Almost no special ensembles, especially chamber music and jazz combos for students in elementary school.
US: Regional and state honours ensembles, including chamber music and jazz ensembles exist for students as early as Grade 5 in several US states.

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