Music education has evolved over the years, and so has MusiCounts. We’re committed to learning, growing, and acting in tandem with the teachers and educators who deliver innovative, inventive, and inclusive programming to meet the needs of young people. As MusiCounts looks to the next 25 years, trends in the last few years can inform what the future may hold for music classes across the country.
25 Years of a Band Aid Solution
When MusiCounts’ Band Aid Program began, it was meant to bridge the gap between the dire funding cuts being made to arts programs nationwide. 25 years later, those cuts persist. Music education continues to be critically under-resourced. Of the schools that sought our help in 2022, 57% of them reported having an annual budget of $500 or less. Many instrument inventories purchased before funding cuts became a reality are now on borrowed time; repairs consume time and funds that educators simply don’t have. So many schools are in dire straits, and MusiCounts cannot keep up with demand.
Percentage of Funds Awarded vs. Percentage of Funds Requested
Not only does the need outpace the resources MusiCounts can allocate, but the nature of student needs continues to change. We see an increasing number of schools requesting support for new music programs to help meet the needs of Canada’s diverse population. More and more schools are seeking to break away from a Western Euro-centric style of music education, and instead use versatile instruments and technology to deliver flexible programming that reflects the students participating.
Percentage of Applicants Requesting Funding for New Programs
Moving instrument deliveries across Canada’s vast landscape poses another unique challenge. MusiCounts has made efforts to support schools who get the short end of the stick in Canada’s urban-rural divide; shipping instruments to geographically isolated communities can be cost-prohibitive for schools on already-tight budgets, so it’s common for instruments in need of repair to sit idly or to be out of rotation for months at a time as they’re sent to urban centres for the TLC they need. Over time we’ve noticed increases in both the requests from remote communities and the costs of delivering goods to those communities, and we don’t anticipate overnight solutions. MusiCounts is proud to cover the cost of that shipping, but as the MusiCounts Band Aid Program continues, we’ll need to dedicate additional resources to get instruments to geographically-isolated communities.
Percentage of Applications from Remote Communities
Instruments Are Just One Piece of the Puzzle
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MusiCounts responded to the urgent needs of music educators who often found themselves at a loss trying to deliver meaningful music education to students during a public health emergency that prevented - in many regions - singing, the playing of wind instruments, sharing materials, and even gathering in a classroom.
Music class is an essential component of every child’s education, and at a time of phenomenal stress and disruption, music can provide a safe haven for a kid’s high emotions. MusiCounts knew that kids needed music and educators needed support, so MusiCounts Learn was born.
What began as a collection of curated resources and town hall conversations has blossomed into a core element of MusiCounts’ offerings. Free custom teaching resources and tools now help teachers bring diverse, relevant, and engaging music - like music by contemporary Indigenous artists, or hip-hop artists - into the classroom to help students feel seen, heard, and interested in the material they’re learning.
Music Education Needs All of Us
One thing our 25-year history has revealed is that without a chorus of people dedicated to fighting for music education, kids will suffer. It takes a village - educators, parents, community members, the artistic community, donors, partners, and so many more - to ensure that for every curious kid, there’s an instrument to put in their hands and an opportunity to love music.
Let’s look back on MusiCounts’ 25 years of impact, and commit to 25 more. Get involved today, whether you’re celebrating the place music class has in every community, advocating for its continued funding, or helping MusiCounts support the schools that ask for our help. Join us as we fight to make sure every single kid in Canada has access to music education in their school and community.