The onset and spread of COVID-19 have significantly altered music teaching practices  and student learning in K-12 schools across the globe. This study examines COVID-19  pandemic impacts on the use of singing in K-12/CEGEP school music programs in  Canada. A comprehensive 55-item online survey was used in April 2021 to gather the  perspectives of a large representative sample of music teachers (N=944). Descriptive  statistical and qualitative data analysis techniques were used to summarize and  interpret the information collected pertaining to the following investigative themes:  COVID-19 pandemic impacts on teaching singing in the music program; overall support  for singing and music education; COVID-19 pandemic impacts on implementing the  music curriculum; COVID-19 pandemic impacts on assessing students’ music learning;  COVID-19 pandemic impacts on music educators; recovery and rebuilding music  programs with singing; and positive outcomes and opportunities for music teachers and  students. 

Overall findings confirm that the impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian school music  programs involving singing were severe and widespread. Due to rigorous health  restrictions placed on singing, thousands of students no longer benefitted from the rich  range of opportunities typically offered through regular and extra/co-curricular music  programs involving singing and choral experiences. Music teachers were able to  implement some, but not all, mandated health measures. Hundreds of music teachers  identified five measures that were difficult for them to implement. Instructional time  spent singing and the scope of singing experiences offered to students declined  immensely, both in-person and online as teachers were suddenly required to find  alternative pathways to teach music with little or no singing. It was not possible for most  music educators to teach or assess many of the music learning outcomes mandated in  official Canadian music curricula through singing, a situation that has led to significant  music learning loss, especially related to singing, and incomplete profiles of students’  musical growth. Working conditions declined for music teachers throughout the crisis  and the majority found themselves working without modified music curricula and  assessment tools to accommodate for the mandatory restrictions on singing.  Professional development for teachers was inadequate in helping them cope with swiftly  changing music teaching protocols, especially for singing. They experienced losses of  designated music classrooms, opportunities to perform live with students, and were  assigned additional non-teaching responsibilities. Teachers spent more time planning,  and mostly without compensation. These factors, including feelings of having decreased support from division administrators and government authorities, negatively affected  music teachers’ mental health, well-being, and job satisfaction. 

Looking ahead, music teachers expressed concerns about how to remediate music  learning losses, singing skills, and rebuild music and singing-related programs. Despite  these concerns, some positive outcomes, benefits, and opportunities for music  education and singing were identified by teachers that arose from their innovative  problem solving during 2020-2021. Recommended actions are offered in this report for  strategic and sustained leadership for decision makers at all levels including  government, divisions/districts, schools, and professional and community organizations 

for rebuilding the singing/choral components of school music education programs  across Canada. This research study fills a gap in the existing literature in that it targets  the impacts of the pandemic on education systems with its focus on singing in school  music education. The findings of this study have relevance for the Canadian school  system and those in other countries in reaffirming the unique and important  contributions of singing in music programs for students and their school communities.  Learning can be a deeper and more powerful experience with singing. Singing, alone  and with others offers a way of knowing and living in the world through an active,  integration of the mind, heart, and voice

Monday, January 10, 2022 - 10:30am