Canadian Music - Results

Results and Discussion

In seeking to determine the priority given to Canadian content in the published music curriculum documents for Canadian schools, the following question must first be addressed: What proportion of music and musical materials recommended for study and performance by published curriculum documents in Canada is of Canadian origin? The second question about regional differences will be considered as part of the discussion of results.

An examination of individual pieces recommended in the 42 curricula reveals that, for the nation as a whole, 11.6 per cent are Canadian (Table 1). Regional differences are, however, apparent. Canadian content is highest in Ontario (24.6 per cent), Quebec (19.6 per cent) and British Columbia (16.3 per cent). Individual pieces of Canadian origin are notably low in the curricula of the Prairies provinces and the mainland Maritime provinces.

Canadian content is higher in the categories of recommended music books and reference books (Table 2) than in the category of individual selections (Table 1). There are 202 recommended Canadian music books and 263 reference books, for a total of 21.3 per cent Canadian content. Analysis by province again shows Ontario to have the highest percentage (57.7 per cent), but no clear pattern of regional difference emerges. The Atlantic provinces vary from 18.2 (New Brunswick) to 39.o per cent (Newfoundland), with a four-province average of 29.7 per cent. The western provinces range from 8.3 per cent (Manitoba) to 25.8 per cent (Alberta), with a four-province average of 15.2 per cent.

The film/video, recording, kit, and miscellaneous categories combine to reveal the highest Canadian content percentage (30.7) of the materials described (Table 3). Quebec lists the most Canadian materials in this category (60.4 per cent) and Alberta the least (6.9 per cent). Although Saskatchewan lists relatively few individual pieces and books of Canadian origin, it lists 32.9 per cent Canadian films and recordings.
The priority given by ministries of education to Canadian music content can be inferred from an examination of the total references to individual pieces and collections (Table 4). For the nation as a whole, material of Canadian origin constitutes 16.1 per cent of all references in the 42 music curricula produced since 1980. Although this is a substantial number (1362 references), it falls considerably short of the 25 per cent set as a target by John Adaskin. Specific regions, however, do approach or meet the 25 per cent target. Ontario (27.4 per cent) and Quebec (25.2 per cent) narrowly exceed that point, while Newfoundland (23.8 per cent), Prince Edward Island (22.9 per cent), and Nova Scotia (21.1 per cent) are just under the mark. The western provinces (10.8 mean percentage) are considerably under the 25 per cent point, as is the one New Brunswick document.

A second question concerning the proportion of Canadian music in curricular references involved consideration of the length of the compositions listed: What is the proportion of short and long pieces recommended for study? Table 5 presents a regional analysis by length of recommended pieces. On a national basis, there were very similar proportions of Canadian content when we compared short and long pieces (12 per cent of the recommended short pieces and 10.6 per cent of the long pieces were Canadian). At the
provincial level, there was considerable variation, and no regional pattern was evident.

The third question investigated was: Are there differences in priority related to music of Canadian origin with French texts vs. music with English texts? To answer this question, we classified individual choral and vocal pieces of Canadian origin according to the principal language employed. It must first be noted that some of the provincial documents listed very few individual pieces (see Table i) and that the percentage of Canadian pieces among those listed was low. Consequently, the percentage from certain provinces may not truly represent the language priority of the ministry of education (e.g., 100 per cent English references in Alberta).
Table 6 reveals that 60.2 per cent of Canadian pieces referenced in curriculum documents since 1980 across Canada were English, 35.3 per cent were French, 1.5 per cent were in Native languages, and 3.o per cent were in other languages, including Latin. The overall figures, however, do not accurately portray the strong regional differences that exist. Quebec lists 99.1 per cent French material while Ontario lists only 6.5 per cent French - the same percentage as Native songs. New Brunswick lists only English mate-rial The recommended songs in documents from the provinces not including Quebec include 84.o per cent English, 9.6 per cent French, 2.1 per cent Native languages, and 4.3 per cent in different languages.

The fourth question considered in this study was: Are there curricular differences in priority related to traditional folk music vs. composed music of Canadian origin? It may not be easy to determine the appropriate balance of composed to folk material. One way of assessing the situation is to compare the balance within the material of Canadian origin to the total list of recommended material. Table 8 presents an analysis of all individual pieces referenced. Folk music constitutes 28 per cent of the total number of pieces. In comparison, Table 7 shows that 40.5 per cent of the Canadian repertoire consists of folk music. Major differences exist among provinces in this balance. Newfoundland, for example, lists 8z.8 per cent folk material, including Newfoundland songs, while Manitoba lists only 6.o per cent. This may in part be explained by the fact that Newfoundland has a long history and a rich heritage of folk material; while Manitoba is a 'younger' region with fewer of its own folk-songs. The apparent differences between provinces may also be related to the grade level of the majority of curriculum documents analysed from a particular province. It is significant to note that the Manitoba documents, in which only 6 per cent of the Canadian music was folk material, were all high school curricula. In contrast, the Saskatchewan documents, which we analysed as including 81.8 per cent folk material, were for elementary grades. An examination of differences in the overall folk/ composed balance by document grade level (Table 9) reveals that Kindergarten to Grade 6 documents include 46.5 per cent folk material whereas high school documents list only 1.1. per cent folk material. A clear pattern seems evident in the figures: there is a decrease in folk material toward the upper grades. When comparing all Canadian material with all other material (Table 9), no pattern of differences by grade level seems evident.

The final question addressed in this study was: What proportion of music curricula in Canada identifies a specific priority for Canadian music with a policy statement, and what effect does this appear to have on references? Table io presents a comparison between documents which have a statement regarding Canadian music (40.5 per cent) and documents which do not have such a statement (59.5 per cent). Documents with a statement of policy regarding Canadian music have almost 4 per cent more Canadian references than do those documents without such a policy. Documents with a Canadian music policy also have almost 7 per cent more references to folk material. Multicultural policy statements were found in 21.4 per cent of the curriculum-documents. A multicultural statement might lead one to expect a greater emphasis on folk material, but this was not evident in the results (Table 10). Those documents with a multicultural statement did, however, include a greater number of Canadian references (almost 5 per cent more). The analysis data seem to indicate that ministries of education which consciously state a policy regarding Canadian music or multicultural music include more Canadian references.

Having addressed our specific research questions regarding Canadian content in provincial music documents, we return now to our initial question: Is Canadian music in the school curriculum an illusion or reality? Our answer, based on the analysis of music curriculum documents, is that the presence of Canadian content in the schools is a reality, but that the amount and type of Canadian content varies widely from one province to another and from one grade level to another.

But this answer must be qualified, since there is frequently a gap between curriculum as prescription and curriculum as instructional reality. We cannot assume that a province's music curriculum documents actually reflect educational practice in all the schools of that province. Although each ministry of education publishes documents to guide the province's music teachers, it would be naïve to assume that all teachers follow the recommendations of the ministry. A more accurate answer to our question would require follow-1990sudies of the Canadian content of music curriculum documents published by local boards of education in each province, plus detailed case studies of music programs in specific schools. Nevertheless, our current research does provide an initial indication of the extent of Canadian content in music education across the country. In addition, it provides a baseline for further investigation. A comparable analysis of provincial music curriculum documents published during the 199os would certainly be useful in tracking increases or decreases in Canadian content.

There are obviously many factors to consider when interpreting our findings concerning the Canadian content of provincial music curriculum documents. For example, our findings should be considered in the light of the political situation in the country. Thus the 25.2 per cent overall Canadian content in the Quebec documents may be seen not as a measure of support for Canadian unity but rather as a reflection of the province's emphasis on Quebec culture. The fact that 99.1 per cent of the Canadian vocal and choral pieces recommended in Quebec's music curriculum documents have French texts seems a clear indication of the province's concern with preserving the French language. The high proportion of folk material in Newfoundland's documents seems to reflect the province's strong sense of regional identity (82.8 per cent of Newfoundland's recommended individual Canadian selections are folk-songs, with emphasis on the province's folk heritage). The relatively low overall Canadian content in the Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta documents (9.5 per cent, 7 per cent, and 12.1 per cent respectively) may in part reflect the alienation from central Canada in those provinces. The low proportion of Native music recommended in the provincial curriculum documents seems significant in light of the ongoing problems between Natives and other residents of Canada, and the increasing dissatisfaction of Canada's aboriginal people with their treatment by national and provincial governments. It is simplistic to suggest that adding more Native music to school curricula would solve the problems of Canada's aboriginal people, but at the same time the low representation of Native music in the curriculum documents seems symptomatic of the unwillingness of the dominant culture to respect aboriginal cultures. So too, the lack of Canadian music in languages other than Canada's official English and French seems symptomatic of the marginalization of Canada's growing multicultural population. It may be that a study of the curricula of local boards of education and individual schools would reveal that there is more sensitivity at the local level to the special needs and interests of various ethnocultural groups, and that local documents contain a higher proportion of Canadian content reflecting the non-English and non-French backgrounds of students.

Our study revealed that in only two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, did the Canadian content of the curriculum documents exceed John Adaskin's target of 25 per cent. Much of Canada's cultural activity is centered in those two provinces, and the majority of CMC associate composers live there (47 per cent in Ontario, 22 per cent in Quebec). Canadian content is highest in the documents of Ontario, which has had a Canadian Music Centre office since 1959. Canadian content is next highest in the documents of Quebec, which has had a CMC office since 1973. Canadian content is considerably lower in the documents produced by the western provinces, where CMC offices were established more recently (the Vancouver office in 1977, the Calgary prairie regional office in 198o). The John Adaskin Project, although sponsored by two national organizations, CMC and CMEA, has since its inception in 1961 had its headquarters in Toronto and has been most active in southern Ontario. Contemporary Showcase has also been Toronto-based. It is impossible to demonstrate conclusively that the various promotional projects described in Part One of this essay have born fruit in the Canadian content of the music curriculum documents analysed in Part Two. Nevertheless, we do suggest that those promotional efforts have made a contribution by producing a variety of educational materials and by exerting influence on at least some teachers and music education administrators to include Canadian music in their curricula. And although we cannot establish a clear causal link, we can point to the fact that the proportion of Canadian content is highest in the documents produced in central Canada, where the greatest promotional efforts on behalf of Canadian music have been made over the longest period of time.

It would therefore seem advisable not only to continue national promotional efforts in central Canada but also to increase such efforts in the other provinces and territories. In addition, local initiatives are needed — especially in smaller communities across the country. The seeds of creative and cultural activity are sown by individuals — composers, teachers, and students creating, sharing, and growing wherever they may be. Such individual creativity and growth can be nurtured by national promotional projects and by provincial ministry of education guidelines and curriculum resource books, but ultimately, change is effected by each individual wherever he or she lives, works, listens, performs, and creates. At a time when political, economic, linguistic, and geographic factors are dividing Canadians from one another, the arts can help to bring us together. But as Murray Schafer wrote about John Adaskin's original plan to promote increased Canadian content in music education: 'This is not a one-time job. It is a "forever" piece of work.' Continued efforts are necessary to ensure that in the future, Canadian content in music education will be a classroom reality, not a curricular illusion.