Worried that some school principals are reducing or withdrawing music lessons for the next post-pandemic back-to-school period, four associations called on the Ministry of Education and school service centers on Monday so that “a strong message” be launched for the maintenance of this subject considered important both for the development of young people, but also for the many musicians for whom teaching is a supplementary work.
The cry of alarm comes from the Federation of Associations of Educating Musicians of Quebec (FAMEQ), which joins its voice in this matter to that of the Federation of Harmonies and Symphonic Orchestras of Quebec (FHOSQ), from the Alliance chorale du Québec and the Guild of Musicians of Quebec (GMMQ).
According to its internal surveys and discussions it has with its some 475 members, the FAMEQ estimates that several school administrators – including in the school service centers of Beauce-Etchemin, Sept-Îles and Rivière-du-Nord in the Laurentians – decided without consulting her to cut the music lessons, “for fear, by opportunity, the reasons are diverse”, explains its president, Stéphane Proulx. The magnitude of the phenomenon is difficult to pin down because decisions are decentralized, he said.
Luc Fortin, the president of the Guild of Musicians, also receives the same sound from his members. The Guild does not represent teachers in a union, but several music teachers are also professional artists.
“We do not want to arrive on August 15 in front of accomplished facts, it will be too late to react” if the situation continues to get worse, explains Mr. Proulx, who estimates that several school principals have already decided to close their program music to avoid juggling instructions and constraints that are often contradictory, especially in terms of health. The three concerned associations also ask for standardization of instructions between the Public Health Department, the Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work Commission and the Ministry of Education “to allow harmonious, realistic and egalitarian resumption of music education ”.
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In this case, FAMEQ is also concerned that economic considerations prevail over educational considerations. The Quebec Federation of Educational Establishment Managers, meanwhile, was unable to comment on Monday.
The office of the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, told the Duty that “it is clear that we want as many music lessons as possible to be offered to our students, everywhere in Quebec, for the next school year”, in addition to being sensitive to the situation. “We are continuing our work with our partners in the school network in order to give the maximum to our students for the start of the new school year in September. “
Stéphane Proulx acknowledges that Minister Roberge has already stated that the usual course offerings will be maintained, but deplores the lack of tags “to ensure that [ce soit] fact “. For example, a school could keep its minimum number of hours in art, but opt for dance, drama or the visual arts instead of music.
In this sense, “COVID has come to exacerbate this problem that we have been experiencing for years,” notes the president of FAMEQ. We don’t want a chicane, give us a status quo on art education right now and let’s think long term about how we fix it. “
What complicates the fate of music lessons is that, for the vast majority of elementary and secondary students, the start of the school year will have to be “in closed groups made up of students who stay in their respective classrooms” , says Quebec. This requirement from Public Health “can sometimes pose challenges for maintaining the provision of regular optional courses in smaller settings, for example, says the office of the Minister of Education. It is for this reason that two options were announced by the Minister, so that school service centers are able to make the choice that best suits their reality. “
Stéphane Proulx points out that his federation and the FHOSQ have set up a health guide that would allow music lessons to be held safely. There is also a way to reinvent the usual course.
“In schools, they chose to buy iPads or computer hardware. That way, you can handle keyboards on software, play console-style musical instruments, illustrates the president of FAMEQ. We can make musical creations, make group pieces, go play with the sounds. These detours can allow students to better master certain aspects of music and teachers will be able to go further with students with real instruments afterwards. “
According to research by experts, he notes, music helps in particular the development of empathy, and lowers the level of anxiety. “And we understand that, in the current situation, it can be useful! “
On the side of the Musicians’ Guild, President Luc Fortin is worried about the many musicians whose extra work is teaching. It estimates that up to 1000 of its 3200 members have a teaching task, all types of courses and contexts combined. “With the crisis, they have already lost all their summer income and perhaps that of part of the autumn, and there they lose their other source of income. It’s one disaster above another for musicians in Quebec. “
Mr. Fortin, a guitarist who taught music himself, worries that his art will get bogged down in school, because young people are the artists of tomorrow, “but also the future audience” in theaters.