Over the course of more than a century, thousands of Montreal students have passed through the doors of the McGill Conservatory of Music - a community program of the Schulich School of Music that provides musical education through private music lessons to students of all ages. The Schulich School of Music is proud of this rich legacy, and of everyone who contributed their time and talents to advancing the musical educations of Montrealers.
The Conservatory has faced a growing number of challenges in recent years. Operational costs have increased. Historically, the School has provided the Conservatory with administrative and teaching space free of charge. As the School continues to grow its University-level programs, these spaces are now at a critical premium.
Further, as it has done with many aspects of our lives, the pandemic has dramatically changed the reality of operating the Conservatory. As an example, before the pandemic, there were close to 100 instructors working at the Conservatory and over 550 students taking private lessons each year. Last year, instruction was offered online; there were 62 instructors working and fewer than 300 private lesson students. Our best-case projection for in-person enrolment for next year would not exceed 100 students. The trend is as clear as it is unfortunate.
Given the combination of these and other factors, the Conservatory is no longer financially viable nor sustainable. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we are announcing that the School will close the Conservatory at the end of this summer. Currently registered students will finish their courses, but no new registrations will be accepted beyond the summer.
This has been an extremely difficult decision, and one made only after careful consideration and analysis. Last year, we carried out a consultation with the School’s Faculty Council members. As well, a working group, comprising administrators and teachers from the Conservatory and Schulich faculty members, reviewed the Conservatory’s current state and future prospects. The conclusions are sobering, yet unavoidable.
Although this decision is extremely sad for our staff, our instructors, and the Montreal music community, we will always be proud of the generations of pre-school to adult learners who have furthered their musical education through the Conservatory—and of the generations of instructors who made those educations possible.
Dean Brenda Ravenscroft and incoming Dean Sean Ferguson