Dear Colleague,

Thank you for contacting me about coming to teach in Canada. I will gladly tell you what every Canadian needs to know in music education.

During my time as a music educator I have come to think about what every music student does know and what I think that they should know. It is interesting because not all music students are at the same level. I have found that there is a huge gap between what vocal students know versus what instrumental students know.

In band and strings classes there is a huge push on learning rudimentary music theory (learning how to read music) because it is necessary in the format of the class. Instrumentalists are expected to read their own parts because there are so many different instruments in a multitude of keys that it is necessary for the class to make any progress. However, I have found in choir classes that music theory is not a focus of the class. Choir students can get by learning everything by rote and reading the words rather than the notes on the page. While they develop the skills to learn their parts by ear, they lack the ability to read and analyze the music on the page.

I think that every music student, regardless of instrument/voice, age or level should learn music theory. I find that choir students who do not have the skills to read music are at a significant disadvantage. While it is true that they are able to develop their musicality through expression and working as a team, students who cannot read music or understand the musical instructions on their score are not able to reach their full potential. If choir students were able to sight-read the way instrumentalists could, more repertoire could be learned and it would leave more time for refining the music. If most of the rehearsal time is spent drilling parts at the piano, less time is available for making music. Parsons and Beauchamp talk about different ways of knowing, including intuition. They state that “research clearly demonstrates that ways of knowing is tied to both individual and cultural epistemologies and belief systems” (126). While I am proposing a very Euro-centric point of view of being able to read music, I still think that this ability is important as it is an essential way of knowing it. It about knowing a piece of music more deeply, being able to analyze the composers intentions and above all it is to remove reliance on others when it comes to learning music.

By teaching musical theory to all music students, every student has an equal chance at excellence, will get more out of their musical experiences and from there they can move on to other ways of knowing music.

I hope this helps, good luck in your teaching.

Kimberly Taylor




Parsons, J. & Beauchamp, L. (2012) From knowledge to action: Shaping the future of curriculum development in Alberta (see Chapter 3: Ways of Knowing). Alberta Education, Planning and Standards Sector: Edmonton, AB. Retrieved from


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