Friday, 13 November 2015

A Response from the Coalition for Music Education in BC regarding CBC Music’s Canada’s Greatest Music Class Contest

The Coalition for Music Education in BC (CMEBC) is concerned about the inclusivity, authenticity, and honesty of CBC Music’s Canada’s Greatest Music Class contest. While we applaud CBC Music’s effort to draw attention to music education in schools, the nature of this contest undermines values held by most music educators across Canada, fails to support the breadth and depth of music education in schools, and disregards any commitment to music education pedagogy and curriculum.
The narrow choice of music from which participants must choose is limited to pop and closely related genres, which does not comprehensively represent all types of music taught in Canadian schools and limits participation by school groups that focus on genres besides pop. The pop-music-oriented vision for music education that CBC Music seems to be promoting is a very limited aspect of school music education. Moreover, regardless of genre, music teachers across Canada are focused on musical content and concepts that are more meaningful, inclusive and educationally responsible than the music examples CBC has selected.

As highly trained professionals, music educators are selective and mindful of what is taught in their classrooms. Value is placed upon music that lends itself well to rich educational outcomes and student creativity. Great music classes are not determined by their ability to cover a pop song. The ability to cover a pop song is especially not representative of the GREATEST music class in Canada. Rather, great music classes are defined by students understanding the depth, power, and complexity of all types of music. There is a commitment to quality, challenge, and creativity. The approach CBC has taken with this contest cannot determine Canada’s Greatest Music Class, as the greatest music classes in our country, fortunately, are not defined by this level of over simplification and subjectivity.

CBC Music has received criticism from many music educators, music professionals, and concerned individuals, including students, who see serious flaws in this initiative. Recommendations have included expanding the music choices, changing the title, and changing the messaging associated with this contest. The CMEBC hopes that CBC Music will take into serious consideration the criticism that has been received and find a way to make this contest more amenable to the teachers and students it seeks to involve. Furthermore, we would like to offer our assistance for this and future initiatives. We would welcome the opportunity to help CBC Music curate educational content that is in line with the standards and common practices of our profession, and that will reach the maximum number of students in meaningful ways. For those of us in the music education community, we feel a great responsibility to nurture our art form and see that it is portrayed truthfully and positively. We want to have the support of CBC Music, but in turn we want CBC Music to seek support from us as well. We are deeply committed to student learning and wish to be involved in consultation and collaboration with CBC Music as much as possible.

Join us in our campaign to protect, promote, and advance music education in BC! Become a Member at

About the Coalition for Music Education in British Columbia

The CMEBC is an organization made up of parents, educators, students, arts organizations, and professionals from varying walks of life that support school music programs. The CMEBC’s mission is to protect, promote, advance and support music education in British Columbia. Our goal is to see that every child receives a well-rounded and balanced education that includes a comprehensive, sequential, quality program in music.

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