Music at Community Colleges | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music at Community Colleges

Community colleges. Post-secondary, non-university educational institutions in English-speaking Canada (for Quebec, see Cegeps). Community colleges do not generally grant degrees, although many offer university transfer credit, and most confer diplomas.

Music at Community Colleges

Community colleges. Post-secondary, non-university educational institutions in English-speaking Canada (for Quebec, see Cegeps). Community colleges do not generally grant degrees, although many offer university transfer credit, and most confer diplomas. A concept of the educational surge of the 1960s, the colleges have taken over the roles formerly played by the technical institutes and the business, agricultural, and art colleges and have added courses and programs of their own. The community colleges are neither technical schools nor junior universities, but rather an independent stream of post-secondary education.

Many community colleges have developed music courses providing outlets for creativity, performance, technical and administrative skills, and music appreciation. These courses vary in purpose and quality, and the extent of musical activity in each college ranges from total absence to sophisticated and often innovative programs. A number of private institutions, continuing education departments, and community centres offer a broad spectrum of programs fulfilling musical needs in areas where community colleges do not exist. In 1987 Employment and Immigration Canada began to publish a bilingual National Guide to College and University Programmes, with listings by program title and educational institution.

British Columbia

Camosun College (Victoria) began to offer a two-year associate of arts in music diploma jointly with the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 1978. The concentration is on performance and teacher training, and is offered in piano, piano accompanying, flute, strings, and voice. By 1991 an agreement had been entered into for a new building on the Lansdowne campus to benefit both institutions.

Capilano College (North Vancouver) offered a music therapy diploma program 1976-90. In 1990 this became a bachelor of music therapy degree granted by BC Open U. A B MUS (performance or composition) transfer program through University of British Columbia or University of Victoria, and a commercial (diploma) program were also offered. Nite Cap, the school's swing choir, won awards at the 1989 Pacific Coast Music Festival, and at MusicFest Canada. In 1991 other ensembles included the Capilano College Singers, the Community Choir, Capilano College Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, Stage Band, and Classical Guitar Ensemble. Staff at Capilano included Arthur Polson and David Astor.

Douglas College's (New Westminister) music department in the division of Arts and Humanities started with the founding of the college in 1970. It has offered a two-year transfer program (B MUS general) at universities including University of British Columbia and University of Victoria, as well as a one-year basic musicianship program. In 1991 the faculty consisted of 7 full-time instructors and 15 sessional instructors, with a student enrolment of about 120. Courses in musical instrument construction and repair have been offered. The school has given a variety of public performances including Anne of Green Gables and Carmina Burana (1989), and Handel's Judas Maccabaeus with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra.(1990).

Malaspina College (Nanaimo) began its programs in 1960. By 1990 there were regional campuses in Nanaimo, Duncan, and Powell River, and the music division offered a wide range of courses in theory, history, jazz, composition, studio recording, computers and music, and performance. Transfer credits have been available through the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, or Simon Fraser University.

Northern Lights College (Dawson Creek) began offering music programs in 1979. In 1990 the student enrolment was 350 (many part time), and the faculty numbered 12 with Merrill Flewelling as head. One- and two-year certificates were offered in community music as well as a two-year Associate of Arts diploma in music or fine arts. Transfer credits toward BA and B MUS degrees at Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, University of Alberta, and the Open Learning Authority (BC) were offered. Northern Lights is affiliated with the RCMT, the WBM, and the RSCM. Performing groups have included a Boy's Choir, Chamber Choir, and Chamber Ensemble.

Selkirk College (Nelson) offers a professional two-year diploma in commercial music and the entertainment industry in performance, production, (sound engineering), composition and directed studies. The instruments of study are keyboard, woodwinds, saxophone, percussion, guitar, electric and acoustic bass, or voice. The Selkirk Jazz Choir has given outside performances for the community.

Vancouver Community College in 1991 offered a two-year diploma in orchestral or keyboard instruments, voice, composition, or contemporary music, and an apprenticeship program in choral conducting. The enrolment was about 100 full-time and 150 part-time students. Ensembles have included the Healey Willan Choir, a wind ensemble, a jazz choir, bands, an orchestra, and numerous chamber groups. A Spring Festival showcasing students and staff has been produced annually.


Augustana University College (located in Camrose and known as Camrose Lutheran University College 1910-91) was founded in 1910, began offering university level music courses in 1959 as an affiliate of the University of Alberta, and in 1987 became a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada with the ability to grant degrees. Music in the Fine Arts division offers a three-year BA (general) and a four-year BA (special). In 1990 total student enrolment was 851 with 20 music majors and 4 full time staff. The Camrose Choir has toured each spring, and it participated in an International Church Music Festival in Norway in 1991. The college also has two general choirs and a jazz vocal ensemble called Encore. Study options have included instrumental instruction (with the affiliated conservatory), and Orff and Kodály programs for children. A Christmas Festival Concert, Jazz Night Camrose, and Highlights, a multidisciplinary performance with students in art and drama, have been among the activities presented at the college.

Canadian Union College (College Heights) began to offer choir instruction in the 1930s. Its department of music was founded in 1949 and became part of the newly-formed Division of Arts in 1987; Curtis Wolfe was appointed chairman in 1989. Courses offered in 1990 were a BA in education (music specialization), a BA in music performance, or a BA with a minor in music. In 1990 the music facility consisted of a Fine Arts Centre for classes, College Chapel for concerts, and a library. There were 4 full-time staff and several part-time, with a student enrolment of about 165 participating in a band, string ensemble, and several choral groups. The college has sponsored a six-concert series, 'Sunday at Seven'.

Concordia College (Edmonton) has offered music under the humanities division, with a transfer program through the University of Alberta. It has offered BA (music major), and B ED.degrees. In 1990 it had a full time staff of two headed by Barrie Bromley, and part time instructors. The Concordia College Choir, made up of high school and college students, was started in the 1940s, and 'Happy Together' is a 16-member contemporary group. Both ensembles have toured. The Concordia College Community Choir and the Concordia College Community Orchestra were formed in 1985 and 1988 respectively.

Grande Prairie Regional College was established in 1966 with one instructional position in music. In 1972 a conservatory program began with most staff flown in bi-weekly from Edmonton. By 1990 the school had a staff of 18, and offered a one-year certificate and a two-year diploma. Transfer credits were available through universities in Alberta. Total student enrolment was approximately 220. Performing organizations have included the College and Community Chorus, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra (all of which started in 1966), and the Conservatory Orchestra begun in 1987.

Grant MacEwan Community College (Edmonton) began offering music courses in 1972 in the Performing and Visual Arts program under founding dean George Naylor. In 1990 there were 6 regular and 15 part-time staff. Between 1976 and 1990 full-time student enrolment remained stable at 165 in the two-year diploma program, a professionally-oriented jazz and commercial stream. The certification is accepted as the equivalent of two year's study by McGill University, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, and Berklee College (Boston), among others. The school has piano, percussion, and electronic labs, and shares the John L. Haar Theatre with the theatre and dance programs.

Medicine Hat College's department of music and dance gives courses on two campuses: in the Medicine Hat Cultural Centre, and on Brooks Campus. It offers transfer courses toward a B MUS at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, and both B MUS and B MUS/B ED at Lethbridge U. The college's conservatory gives private, group, and ensemble instruction at various levels. The school is associated with professional organizations including the RCMT and the Royal Academy of Dance.

Red Deer College's music program was established in 1978. In 1991 a two-year diploma in performance and merchandising was offered with university transfer credits toward a B SC in music merchandising. Duke Thompson was chairman; there were some 12 part-time instructors with 50 students admitted annually. Red Deer has hosted workshops, festivals, residency, and summer programs. In 1990 a symposium on care of the professional voice (for musicians, actors, broadcasters, speech therapists, medical practitioners, etc), the first of its kind in Canada,.was held at the College Arts Centre.


Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology (Sudbury) has offered a three-year diploma in the School of Communication and Creative Arts Division. Emphasis is on teacher training and music business skills. Students may perform in the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, Sudbury Youth Orchestra, Cambrian Choir, and guitar ensembles..

Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology (London) started its music program in 1972. In 1990 it continued to offer diploma programs in recording engineering and recorded music production within the Communication Arts Division. Courses include economics, the music business, music contracts, MIDI, and recording (with two studios). Jack Richardson, an internationally known record producer in pop music, is a staff member. In 1990 there were 66 students in first year. The program is competitive and limited to Ontario residents. Fanshawe's continuing education division has offered non-credit courses.

The George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology (Toronto) began to offer a two-year piano technician diploma in 1977. Averaging 25-30 students, it is unique in Canada, and has produced graduates at the top of its field. Edward (Ted) Sambell, who has tuned for Glenn Gould and Rudolf Serkin and had been the head technician for the Stratford Festival, was on staff 1977-90. Anne Fleming-Read was head in 1990. The students work upright pianos in the first year, on grands in the second, and also rebuild a piano.

Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology (Rexdale) began its music program in 1972. In 1990 it offered a three-year diploma in composition and performance with the main emphasis on jazz and commercial music. The student enrolment was 300, with 35 faculty members (14 part time), including Pat LaBarbera (saxophone), Ron Collier (bandleader, composer), and Armas Maiste (pianist). Paul Read was director from 1987 until 1991, when he left to become the new director of jazz studies at the University of Toronto.

Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology (Oakville) was established in 1967. The Dept of Music Theatre in the School of Media Arts and Music Theatre offers a three year theatre arts program focusing on careers in the entertainment field. Classes are given in singing, acting, music theory, improvisation, TV audition techniques, scene study, and dance techniques. This program is unique in Canada. In 1988 Rod Maxwell became chairman; Don Graves is dean.

Elsewhere In Canada

The National Guide to College and University Programmes for 1989 listed several private or affiliated institutions elsewhere in Canada offering music programs, including Canadian Mennonite Bible College (Winnipeg) and St Peter's College (Muenster, Sask), but no community colleges. Arctic College (NWT) in 1990 included some music courses in its teacher education programs.

Further Reading