Music in the Oshawa Schools

In the early years the teaching of singing or instrumental music in the schools was not greatly stressed, although it was listed to be taught as a subject on the 1862 curriculum.

Most of the teachers did not have the training or musical ability to teach it, neither did they have the time to devote to it, in their classes. A few accounts were noticed in the papers that some of the schools, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, had given concerts in singing. These no doubt were made possible by the fact that they had had teachers of outstanding ability.

In the rural areas, it was entirely up to the teacher whether or not any music was taught in the school. Those schools were un-graded; some were quite large, consequently the teacher found plenty to do to keep up the curriculum without any extras.

A time or two it was reported in the “Vindicator” that a music teacher had been hired for the common school on Centre Street.

In the 1850’s and 60’s, vocal teachers came to the village and conducted classes (“singing schools”) for the young people, during the winter months. Those attending paid the teacher’s fees. They were taught by the tonic sol-fa[1]. At the end of the season a concert was given. The young folks enjoyed these schools as there was not much diversion for them outside of their daily routine. The classes were also called “sparking school.”

[1] Do, re, mi etc.


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