Canadian Music Educators' Association | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canadian Music Educators' Association

The Canadian Music Educators' Association (CMEA)/Association canadienne des musiciens éducateurs (ACME) is a national organization central to the network of provincial music educators' associations.

The Canadian Music Educators' Association (CMEA)/Association canadienne des musiciens éducateurs (ACME) is a national organization central to the network of provincial music educators' associations. The CMEA serves and connects those interested in music education, and fosters the advancement of teaching and the lifelong learning of music. The CMEA and its members represent music educators and teachers affiliated with schools, and should not be confused with the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Associations (CFMTA) and its provincial associations, which represent private music teachers.

Provincial Affiliates

The CMEA’s provincial affiliates include: British Columbia Music Educators' Association; Manitoba Music Educators' Association; Music Council of the Newfoundland Teachers' Association; Nova Scotia Music Educators' Association; Ontario Music Educators' Association; Prince Edward Island Music Educators' Association; and the Saskatchewan Music Educators' Association. Former affiliates include the Alberta Music Educators' Association, Music Education Council of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, and the Quebec Music Educators' Association (QMEA).


The CMEA was formed in Toronto at the April 1959 convention of the OMEA. The spade-work for the association is attributed to several Canadians who met under the chairmanship of Leslie Bell while attending the 1957 Music Educators' National Conference in Atlantic City. Forty delegates from nine provinces attended the 1959 inauguration and elected G. Roy Fenwick president. The first executive committee comprised Fenwick, an executive director (Leslie Bell), a secretary-treasurer (Keith Bissell) and three regional representatives (Richard Johnston, Lloyd Slind and David Thomson). Fees from the 69 charter members, a contribution from the Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music and a gift of the profits from the International Festival held in Montréal in 1950 gave the new organization a healthy financial base.

Formal incorporation as a professional association took place in 1972, and in 1990 there were 2,494 individual memberships. The Alberta MEA disbanded in 1969 and, although the province remained non-affiliated and without a provincial MEA, in 1990 the CMEA worked with the Alberta Fine Arts Association to represent provincial interests. By 1981, the Manitoba and Ontario MEAs had become affiliated. The BCMEA entered formal affiliation in 2002. The QMEA withdrew affiliation as part of its reconfiguration into a charitable organization in 2014. The CMEA still maintains open communication with organizations in unaffiliated provinces such as FAMEQ, and parties in both Alberta and New Brunswick.

Mission and Partners

The CMEA’s purpose is accomplished through publications, an online presence, advocacy, collaboration on key initiatives, applied research and regular communication with members, provincial and territorial affiliates, partners and the international music education community. The CMEA is a member organization of the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Canadian Educators' Association. In 1989, it became the official Canadian representative to the International Society for Music Education (ISME).

The CMEA has representational agreements with both the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and the Canadian Music Industry Education Committee. The CMEA has been responsible for the formation of the Canadian String Teachers' Association (1965), the Canadian Music Research Council (1973) and the Music Teacher Education Council (1973). The John Adaskin Project has been a joint CMEA/Canadian Music Centre venture, and together the two organizations also published Patricia Shand’s Canadian Music: A Selective Guidelist for Teachers (Toronto, 1978).


The CMEA's chief aim — unifying and informing Canada's musicians and music educators — has been carried out mainly through publications and conventions. Its quarterly journal, the Canadian Music Educator (CME), began in June 1959. The CMEA also published papers of the Melbourne, Australia 12th International Research Seminar in Music Education (CME, vol. 30, May 1988, special supplement) and, in 1990, continued to publish such proceedings in its role as official Canadian representative to ISME.

The Newsletter, begun in 1968 and originally published separately, has appeared under the masthead of the CME beginning with the November 1988 issue (vol. 29). From 1968 to 1986, CMEA had its Resource Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, under the direction of Wallace Laughton, who was also the first editor of the Newsletter. The Resource Centre provided members with reprints of articles, general information and reference services, and materials for non-commercial displays for conventions and workshops. During the mid-1970s, a publications committee was formed to evaluate and select outstanding Canadian monographs on music education, to prepare lists of these and occasionally to circulate copies of both among the membership. In 1990, the CMEA was preparing a series of monographs, the first issue to be distributed at its 1991 conference in Vancouver.

In addition to the CME, the CMEA publishes the Research to Practice Book Series, which includes: Creativity and Music Education (vol. 1, 2002); Questioning the Music Education Paradigm (vol. 2, 2004); Listen to Their Voices: Research and Practice in Early Childhood Music (vol. 3, 2007); Exploring Social Justice: How Music Education Might Matter (vol. 4, 2009); Personhood and Music Learning (vol. 5, 2012); and Music and Media Infused Lives (vol. 6, 2015).

Additional books include Leadership, Advocacy, Communication: A Vision for Arts Education in Canada (1999), Looking Forward: Challenges to Canadian Music Education (2000) and Musical Understanding: Perspectives in Theory and Practice (2002). The CMEA’s books have been edited by some of Canada's finest researchers in music education, including Dr. Betty Hanley, Dr. Lee Bartel, Dr. Lee Willingham and Dr. Susan A. O'Neill.

Conventions and Competitions

Biennial national conventions have been held in Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Halifax, Kingston, London, Montréal, Ottawa, Regina, Sackville, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Two commissioned works were premiered at the CMEA 1967 convention: Robert Fleming's Four Fantasias on Canadian Folk Themes; and Godfrey Ridout’s When Age and Youth Unite. Guest speakers, from the fields of education, publishing and the media have included N. Scarth of the University of British Columbia (1962), Laurier La Pierre (1985) and Silver Donald Cameron (1989), and from the National Association for Music Education, Louis Wersen (1967), Charles Leonhard (1969, 1971) and Mary Hoffman (1989). A joint CMEA-Queen's University workshop on Evaluation (chaired by Duane Bates) was held in February 1990.

The conventions have regularly featured clinics and performances. The Leslie Bell Memorial Choir Competition was initiated by the CMEA and the CBC in 1963. The first Leslie Bell Trophy and a cash prize were awarded in 1964, and have been presented at each subsequent convention to a choral group from the host province. National Conventions were suspended in the 1990s and reconstituted with the 2015 Canadian Conference on Music Education in Winnipeg, chaired by Tanya Derksen and Regan McLachlan.


In 1989, CMEA began to expand and revise its performance awards criteria based on taped submissions. These awards honoured the following educators and categories: the Christopher Gledhill Award (orchestra); the Robert Rosevear Award (concert band); the Don Wright Award (vocal or instrumental jazz ensemble); the Leslie Bell Award (choir); the Wilfrid Harvey Award (vocal or instrumental small ensemble); and the Catherine Allison Award — a special honour presented at the discretion of the selection committee. The Jubilate Award honoured those who made a significant contribution to music education in Canada; the first two recipients were Helen Creighton (1989) and Paul Freeman (1990).

The Performance Awards were dissolved in 2012 and replaced with the Excellence Awards, which recognize achievement in four categories: Collaboration; Innovation; Leadership; and Musical Performance. The inaugural recipients of the Excellence Awards will be conferred in 2015. A separate Builders Award and a Builders Award for Newer Teachers recognize achievement in building community, capacity and opportunity for students in music education. These are awarded annually to an individual in each affiliated province or territory based on the nomination of the affiliated association. They are handed out in addition to the Jubilate Award of Merit, Honorary Life Membership and the Executive Award, which are all conferred upon those who make significant contributions to the CMEA throughout their career.

In 2015, the Coalition for Music Education in Canada was awarded the Jubilate Award of Merit for its steadfast work in raising the profile of music education in Canada. In 2015, a special Builders Award was conferred upon astronaut Chris Hadfield for his musical contribution to the earth-space performance as part of Music Monday 2013, and for his dedication to raising the profile of music education in Canada.


The CMEA has collaborated with the Coalition for Music Education in Canada to form a Joint Committee on Research, which is responsible for examining both the funding and commissioning of purposeful research to better understand the role and delivery of music education in Canada. The CMEA organizes an annual essay competition to encourage and celebrate the research and thought of both undergraduate and graduate students. The Pat Shand Essay Competition specifically recognizes research and writing on Canadian musical content in music education.

A result of Canada's contribution to the global research community, the CMEA hosted the World Conference of the ISME in 1974 (London) and 2000 (Edmonton). National conferences are celebrated as an opportunity for the researcher and practitioner communities to connect and dialogue.


In 1987, the CMEA embarked on a cassette-recording project under the artistic direction of Paul Freeman, conductor emeritus of the Victoria Symphony. Some of the performers featured in the three-volume Canadian Artists Series (1987, 1988, 1989) were Ofra Harnoy, James Campbell, Liona Boyd, Glenn Gould, Anton Kuerti, Mark Pedrotti, Eugene Dowling, the Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo, the Canadian Brass and the Orford String Quartet. A booklet on listening techniques was prepared for the series by editor Diana Brault, and writers Elaine Mason and Glen Wood.


The CMEA’s presidents have included: G. Roy Fenwick (1959–60); Gifford Mitchell (1960–62); Lloyd Slind (1962–63); Lola MacQuarrie (1963–65); Garfield Bender (1965–67); Frank Churchley (1967–69); Vernon Ellis (1969–71); Allen Clingman (1971–73); Kenneth Bray (1973–77); Paul Murray (1977–79); Winnifred Voigts (1979–81); Dennis Humenick (1981–83); Brenda Trafford (1983–85); and Paul Maynard (1985–89); Joan Therens (1989–91); Dr. Dennis Tupman (1991–93); Dr. Rodger Beatty (1993–95); Dr. Eric Favaro (1995–97); Debbie McPherson (1997–99); Dr. Amanda Montgomery (1999–2001); Dr. Barbara Graham (2001–03); Gregg Bereznick (2003–05); Allan Anderson (2005–07); Mary Dinn (2007–09); Dr. Ed Wasiak (2009–11); Theodora Stathopolous (2011–13); Mark Reid (2013–15); and Kirsten MacLaine (2015–).

Further Reading

External Links