Vocational public music schools in Quebec

Vocational public music schools in Quebec.

Vocational public music schools in Quebec

Vocational public music schools in Quebec. A new type of elementary and secondary vocational music school emerged in Quebec in 1971, following various reports and studies, in particular that of the Rapport de la Commission royale sur l'enseignement des arts in the province of Quebec, which recommended the diversification of teaching to answer the needs and skills of young people. These schools offer students the possibility of receiving an academic training conforming to the Ministry of Education of Quebec together with an integrated musical training of 7 to 12 hours per week, including daily instrumental practice.

At the primary level, an average of 7.5 hours is devoted to the teaching of music which is provided by specialists and divided among classes of piano and/or violin or cello, choral singing, theory, ear training, eurhythmics, body movement, dance, and Orff percussion. At the secondary level a choice of band instruments is added and time allotted to music covers a minimum of 10 hours per week. Instrumental group teaching of both piano (thanks to electronic piano labs) and violin and other instruments, is found in most of these schools. These programs are based on the principles of recognized current music pedagogy, including the methods of Martenot, Orff, Dalcroze, and Létourneau.

The Catholic School Commission of Sherbrooke was a pioneer in this field with the opening of the Sacré-Coeur primary school in 1972 and then the Mitchell School, Secondary I (1978), and the Montcalm School, Secondary II (1980). Each year, new school commissions offer a vocational public music school at the primary level and then at the secondary level. It is interesting to note that each new school adopts a particular tone, either by the type of students or instruments selected, or by the spectrum of musical activities chosen or even the main goal (to prepare music lovers, concert artists, to enrich programs, etc).

Besides Sherbrooke, there exist at the Catholic School Commission of Montreal the Le Plateau primary school (begun in 1973) and the Joseph-François-Perrault secondary school (1978); at the Ste-Croix School Commission, the Pierre Laporte Secondary School (1980) which offers a concentration program of music and dance following an agreement with the École Vincent-d'Indy and the École supérieure de danse du Québec; at the Thousand-Islands School Commission, the Alpha School (1982); at the Ste-Thérèse School Commission, the Mgr Philippe-Labelle primary school (1984) and the Ste-Thérèse comprehensive school (1987); at the Jacques-Cartier School Commission, the Félix-Leclerc primary school (1989) and the Mgr Parent comprehensive school (1990).

Although schools specializing in the teaching of the arts (dance, theatre, musique and visual arts) are found elsewhere in Canada, notably in Toronto (Claude Watson School for the Arts, Etobicoke School of the Arts), in Mississauga (Cawthra Park Secondary School) and in Langley, BC (Langley Fine Arts Elementary School), the vocational public music schools in Quebec attract much interest, owing to the important fact that musical teaching is integrated into the general academic program. They also constitute unique cases in Canada in the area of completely subsidized educational institutions. They prepare a considerable number of students for the collegiate and university levels, while allowing students to flourish in their own environment. Thus, at Pierre-Laporte School, 204 students were granted their certificate between 1985 and 1990 and about half of them continued their musical studies. The schools are also important as sites for pedagogical research. Several of the schools are affiliated with the Preparatory School of Music of UQAM, which monitors the content and the level of the program.