It’s hard to believe that the Ontario Music Educators’ Association (OMEA) will soon be celebrating its centenary. Founded in 1919 as the Music Section of the Ontario Education and reorganized in 1949 as OMEA, we are the oldest continuing music education association in Canada. With our roots beginning in 1919 with a mere 18 public school music supervisors and instructors from provincial schools, OMEA has grown to approximately 900 members encompassing elementary and secondary teachers of music in both public and catholic district school boards, independent and private school teachers of music, and both college and university professors.
We connect and support our members through our website, our quarterly journal: The Recorder, special publications, and our monthly e-newsletter: E-notes. OMEA partners with our valued colleagues of Canadian Music Industry Education Committee (CMIEC) and our notable corporate members to present our annual provincial conferences. Additionally, OMEA presents regional workshops to also provide music teachers with other resources as well as mentorship and networking opportunities to support their professional learning. OMEA is affiliated with the Canadian Music Educators’ Association/ l’Association canadienne des musiciens éducateurs (http://cmea.ca) and OMEA is the subject association that represents music education with the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ontario College of Teachers.
At the very first Music section at the Education Convention in 1919, the members adopted 7 recommendations:
- 1: “That the regulation relating to the compulsory teaching of music be made active throughout the Province, and that a minimum of 1 hour per week be required by the Department to be devoted to the study of vocal music.
- 2. That a supervisor of music for the province of Ontario be appointed to stimulate an interest in music, particularly throughout the rural districts and towns where the subject is not now taught in public and highs schools.
- 3. That the duties and relationship of supervisors of music to the school be clearly defined by the department of education in the departmental regulations.
- 4. It has been found that 88% of all students entering Normal schools have had no previous training in singing – we would strongly urge the appointment of supervisors of music for rural districts, and that this recommendation be carried into effect as promptly as practicable.
- 5. That phonographs, and band and orchestral instruments for school use only, be put on the approved school apparatus in order that they may be subject to the same exemption from customs duties as other school apparatus.
- 6. That we recommend the granting of credits for outside music study in the High school course, as soon as the department deems it expedient.
- 7. In order to give teachers-in-training an opportunity to hear the best music, and in order that they may receive training in music appreciation, we would recommend that gramophones be placed in normal schools, in English-French training schools and English model schools of the province”.
How times have changed! We have been witness to some positive changes over the years. Notably, since 1998, we have experienced expectation-based Arts – Music curricula at both elementary and secondary levels which have assisted us in advocating for regular and continuous music instruction to be provided for all students as part of their elementary education and broadening the breadth of music learning and the types of courses offered for secondary school students. Students graduating from secondary schools are also required to have at least ONE arts credit (with provision for a 2nd arts credit to satisfy another diploma requirement). We continue to move forward and are pleased to employ a strong curriculum to guide our music/arts teaching.
As an organization, we are often invited to work with the Ontario Ministry of Education, as one of their key stakeholders. We have provided input on a number of occasions which have included the revisions of Arts curricula and the development of the assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy document, “Growing Success”.
Over the years we have been fortunate to have received grants from the Ontario Ministry of Education. With those financial resources and various other funds we were able to secure through grants and internal savings, we developed a broad range of units and course profiles to support music teachers, held successful leadership retreats for newer teachers of music, as well as created and developed special publications such as “The Best of the Recorder”, Creative Process Anchor chart, etc. The various curriculum support resources are accessible on both the public (https://www.omea.on.ca/public-resources/#toggle-id-7) and members-only sides of our website.
As always, we will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of music education in Ontario & remain steadfast in striving to provide quality music education programs for all students in Ontario schools.
Brault, Diana. ‘A history of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association (1919-1974)’, unpublished PhD dissertation (Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester,1977)