The study of musical performance, composition, and theory is a disciplinary course of study that can be challenging yet equally rewarding.
By pursuing higher education in the study of music, students enhance their skills in communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and learning the different ways to exercise their creative muscles.
Canada is rich in the diversity of music schools. From universities to conservatories, the country is not short of musical talent, global knowledge, and music degrees that suit all types of interests.
The difference between a university and a conservatory is its diverse academic courses and classroom sizes.
While universities offer a more comprehensive range of extracurricular activities and student life outside the classrooms, conservatories are more suited for students looking to spend more time honing in on a specialized focus and craft.
While some may argue that music degrees are limiting, they actually offer a wide range of career paths as many have gone on to become world-famous composers, musical instrument makers, teachers, and even music industry attorneys.
A music degree is not only for musicians but for anyone who enjoys analyzing and studying the craft.
Here are 10 of the best music schools in Canada.
Humber College Faculty of Media and Creative Arts (Toronto, ON)
The Humber College Faculty of Media and Creative Arts provides global opportunities, an abundance of resources, and hands-on work experience for students pursuing a degree in music. As of 2005, the school offers two bachelor’s programs, one in music and the other in contemporary music.
The College is working toward transforming its Lakeshow Campus into the Humber Cultural Hub. The Hub aims to provide and nurture the next generation of artists by cultivating a new economy for underserviced local communities.
Famous alumni include the talented Canadian jazz musician Alysha Brillinger and multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and audio engineer, Greg Wells.
Wells has a list of famous works, including The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, and has even worked with music legends like Celine Dion and Elton John.
Acadia University School of Music (Wolfville, NS)
Known for its innovative and eclectic programs, Acadia’s School of Music has an average class size of 28 students and offers three bachelor options in music and music therapy.
Students partake in auditions, which include presenting 2-3 pieces in any style(s) of music as a live online performance, in-person, or pre-recorded submission in addition to an interview with faculty.
The University is also the home to seven different ensembles varying from Jazz/Big Band to Gamelan Ensemble. The unique Gamelan Ensemble was established in 2009 and introduced Indonesia’s traditional and contemporary sounds from the region of West Java.
The School of Music is located in the small town of Nova Scotia, with its curriculum centered around three themes: menthol health and personal development, music teacher training, and music performance and proficiency training.
Victoria Conservatory of Music (Victoria, BC)
As one of Canada’s most advanced music schools, Victoria Conservatory of Music (VCM) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1964. The music program that once started with a class of 8 students now has over 4,500 students of all musical ages and abilities.
The different programs include classical, contemporary, tech and creativity, therapy, postsecondary, and early childhood.
Students have endless opportunities to build relationships with industry experts with professional coaches and mentors who have worked with prestigious groups and companies, like The Victoria Jazz Orchestra and Universal Studios.
The conservatory is a learning hub of all skills and trades in the music scene. Through VCM’s School of Music Technology and Creativity, students learn new methodologies in creating music using cutting-edge programs and software.
Queen’s School of Music (Kingston, ON)
The Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University embraces the many disciplines of learning professional performing arts.
The school prides itself in cohesively combining technical production, administration, scholarship, and performance as one rather than separately, making them unique compared to other schools.
Students who choose to pursue an undergraduate degree in music, music theater, and music education will learn the core components of theory, musicology, musicianship, and applied studies. Those who pursue a master’s program will expand their knowledge in leadership and arts management.
The University has many faculty members who are experts in the industry. Faculty members include internationally acclaimed mentors, including Dr. Adrienne Shannon, a pianist who has performed as a soloist, chamber music, and duo pianist who has done broadcast recordings for BBC, PBS, RAE Italy, and many others.
University of Western Ontario Don Wright Faculty of Music (London, ON)
The Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario is the home to three departments – Music Performance Studies, Music Research and Composition, and Music Education.
The school has a network of 6,000 alumni worldwide who have pursued unique career paths in law, theater, and television.
As alumni, there are endless opportunities to participate in various outreach programs, progressive music symposiums, music festivals, and competitions by accessing the university’s network.
The school is not shy of national recognition, with three out of five winners from the Met Opera Laffont Competition being current students and graduates from the school.
Students interested in applying for the Bachelor of Music or the Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music, Popular Music Studies, or Music Administrative Studies will go through an audition and/or interview process.
University of British Columbia School of Music (Vancouver, BC)
University of British Columbia’s School of Music offers undergraduate, post-graduate, and non-degree training in music performance, composition, education, and scholarship.
Undergraduate students have the option to get a bachelor’s in music or pursue a dual degree in Music and Education that takes five years to complete.
Through the various degree programs, UBC alumni have paved successful career paths ranging from musicians to teachers.
Award-winning cellist and Indigenous activist, Cris Derksen, and winner of the 2020 iSing! Young Artist’s International Composition Competition, Roydon Tse, are part of the notable alumni roster list.
The University has expanded opportunities for students to collaborate with colleagues and community organizations. These programs include volunteer positions with the Vancouver Opera, teaching assistantships, and student ensembles in a symphony, laptop orchestra, and more.
University of Toronto Faculty of Music (Toronto, ON)
The Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto has a network of about 7,500 alumni who have performed on worldwide stages.
The school is one of seven other professional faculties and provides its music students with a versatile learning experience and concentrations.
Degrees range from one-year advanced certificates in performance, four-year bachelors in music degrees and graduate-level music performance and composition programs. Classes are held in the Edward Johnson Building, south of the Royal Ontario Museum.
Toronto is a cultural hub with lively concerts, lectures, and workshops where students can meet with established vocalists and instrumentalists in the industry.
With access to various facilities, including the 815-seated MacMillian Theatre and the University of Toronto Electronic Music Studio, the musical landscape is perfect for those looking for an immersive experience.
Royal Conservatory of Music Glenn Gould School (Toronto, ON)
The Royal Conservatory of Music Glenn Gould School was established in 1997 as a place for gifted young artists to pursue professional training in music performance at post-secondary and post-graduate levels.
As one of the most respected and internationally acclaimed institutions in music education, the conservatory has been around for more than 130 years and has mentored award-winning artists, including pianist Francine Kay and opera singer Peter Barrett.
The school offers three levels of study in music, performance, and a postgraduate artist diploma program. Through the Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program, selected participants receive career coaching and undergo private studies with exceptional faculty and guest artists.
Through the conservatory, students have about 100 performances annually in major entertainment centers across Toronto like the Koerner Hall and the Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.
Quebec Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art (Quebec)
The Quebec Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art is a prestigious educational network consisting of nine music and drama conservatories.
With hopes to provide the community with higher education in the arts, the network was established in 1942, with seven conservatories dedicated to music and two to the dramatic arts.
The organization offers three music training programs in interpretation, conducting, and composition. The conservatory promotes artistic autonomy by offering this training to grade-level students and graduate-level adults.
Undergraduate and graduate degrees range from two to three years of study, focusing on mastering an instrument, performance, or orchestral conducting. The conservatories are located in the stylish French-speaking city surrounded by a melting pot of creatives, artists, and leaders in the music scene.
McGill University Schulich School of Music (Montreal, QC)
The McGill University Schulich School of Music is the home to over 800 students pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, or graduate diploma or certificate in music. The 16 areas of study are split between the Department of Music Research and the Department of Performance.
Since the McGill Conservatorium of Music was founded in 1904, the school has become globally recognized for its opera, orchestra, jazz, and early and contemporary music programs.
The School’s students and faculty put on over 700 performances each year. Such training is critical to the program’s success as it provides students with an ideal setting for pre-professional practice.