The Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music is a national non-profit organization chartered in 1919 to encourage and promote interest in music and music education in Canada, primarily through establishing and developing high school band programs and piano classes in elementary schools. The bureau's work is financed by its fee-paying members — individuals, organizations and companies — who elect a board of volunteer directors. The bureau was incorporated in 1962 and registered as a charity in 1979. The Toronto headquarters are administered by a managing director.
The bureau evolved from the Canadian Piano and Organ Manufacturers' Association's “Music in the Home” campaign, developed and directed by John A. Fullerton, who became the bureau's first managing director in 1919. Fullerton was succeeded in 1921 by Capt John S. Atkinson. From 1920 until the demise of Canada's piano building industry in the 1980s, the association helped fund the bureau by means of a levy on each piano built in Canada.
After the First World War
The bureau's long association with the Canadian National Exhibition began in 1921 when it organized the first of the exhibition's Music Days. It functioned then as the music department of the CNE, organizing annual competitions and recitals. In 1954, when its headquarters were established on the exhibition grounds, the bureau expanded its activities to include co-administration of the band competitions with the Canadian Bandmasters’ Association (now the Canadian Band Association).
In the 1920s, the bureau inaugurated essay contests, community music weeks and local music festivals. In 1922 in Toronto, it held the first of its teacher-training courses in the techniques of group or class piano instruction. The courses were to become its major and continuing project. By 1926, class piano instruction was being given as an extracurricular activity in public schools. At first a two-year basic program that included theoretical rudiments, it was later increased to a three-year course, using a syllabus prepared by the bureau.
After the Second World War
After the Second World War, class instruction in violin was begun and was then taken over by individual boards of education. There was a steady increase in enrolment in piano classes at this time and adult classes were established in association with the University of Toronto's Extension Department. Piano teacher-training courses have been conducted in centres across Canada, with supervisors located in all the major cities in which the program functions. In 1990, more than 4,000 students were enrolled in extracurricular piano classes, mainly in Ontario communities and also in Québec. The bureau continued to provide information and materials to centres in Western Canada and the Maritimes.
Following Atkinson's death, Richard Edmunds served as the managing director from 1953 to 1968. Edmunds was succeeded by Clifford Hunt, who served from 1968 to 1993. Hunt continued to also work as director of the music department of the CNE, which perpetuated the close relationship between the department and the bureau.
After Hunt’s retirement in 1993, the control of the bureau was assumed by its board of directors. In 2011, the bureau closed its office on the CNE grounds and had temporary offices in Knowlton, QC and Rodney, ON before establishing a permanent office in Toronto’s Don Mills neighbourhood.