Community Music (BMus)

Community Music allows you to explore diverse musical styles, genres and music-making approaches across various instruments. You will then apply these practical skills in leading and collaborating with your peers on musical initiatives with a social impact.

Through considerable hands-on experience, Community Music will prepare you to become a professional musician specializing in facilitating music-making with everyone from non-musicians to professionals in various community contexts.

You can apply to the Bachelor of Music Therapy program in second year.

Program Highlights

  • Laurier is the only university in Canada to offer an undergraduate Bachelor of Music in Community Music.
  • Flexible in course requirements, you will have enough room to pursue a minor or double degree in an area outside of the Faculty of Music.
  • You’ll receive training in voice, drums, and either keyboard or guitar.
  • Students get to work in a variety of music genres and cultures, and frequently work with guest artists and coaches.
  • Students get experiential learning off-campus throughout their degree, as music facilitators and as performers.
  • Throughout all four years, you will be performing, learning and improving your musicianship. Small group instruction and performance experience in large and small ensembles is available to all students.

 

2020 graduates who secured employment or went on to postgraduate studies

 

Laurier ranks in the top 6 percent of universities worldwide*

 

students who gained hands-on learning experiences at Laurier in 2019/20

*Center for World University Rankings (CWUR)

Admissions

Format: full time      Duration: four years     Start: September (fall term)     OUAC code: UCM

Admission to the Bachelor of Community Music is based on the collective results of meeting academic requirements, successful audition, interview with a faculty member, completion of a theory and ear training test, aural skill assessment, reference and an optional portfolio.

Ontario High School Admission Requirements
  • Minimum admission range: 75%.
  • Competitive admission range based on last year’s admitted students: low 90s.
  • English at 60%.
  • Successful audition.
  • Interview with a faculty member.
  • Theory and ear training test (equivalent to Royal Conservatory of Music Advanced Rudiments).
  • Aural skills assessment.
  • Optional portfolio of compositions.
Canadian Admission Requirements (Outside of Ontario)

Students applying to this program from a Canadian province outside of Ontario are encouraged to review our course equivalents by province chart. This chart will show you what courses from your province are equivalent to the admission requirements listed under Ontario High School Admission Requirements.

International Admission Requirements

Students applying to this program from an international curriculum are encouraged to review our curriculum-specific requirements; you must also meet all program-specific requirements listed under the Ontario High School Admission Requirements section.

English-Proficiency Requirement

Laurier's language of instruction is English, and so we may require you to provide evidence of your English proficiency to help make sure you experience success in your academic courses.

Your three most recent years of full-time education must be in English without taking any ESL (English as a Second Language) courses. If you do not meet this requirement, you must provide evidence of your English proficiency.

We reserve the right to request an English-language test from any applicant.

If you do not meet Laurier's English proficiency requirement but are academically qualified for your program, you may be eligible for a conditional offer of admission.

Laurier English and Academic Foundation (LEAF) Program

The Laurier English and Academic Foundation (LEAF) program is an academic English program for Laurier applicants who have to prove English proficiency. If you have received an offer to Laurier with a condition to meet our English- proficiency requirement, you can meet that condition by successfully completing the LEAF program.

College Pathways

Our unique academic partnership with Randolph College for the Performing Arts (RCPA) is designed to allow students to earn both their Bachelor of Music in Community Music and their Performing Arts diploma in only four years.

Learn more about our college transfer agreement.

Other Admission Requirements

Visit our admission requirements section to find specific requirements for university students, indigenous applicants, mature learners, homeschooled applicants, senior citizens, refugees, and more. 

Audition and Interview

Audition Options

Applicants will have the option to participate in a:

  • In-person audition and interview at Laurier’s Waterloo campus; or
  • Pre-recorded video audition and a virtual Zoom interview.

Audition Requirements

Prepare three pieces that display your musical range and abilities.

We encourage you to demonstrate your personal musical strengths. Pieces can be performed on any instrument(s) (including voice) in any genre or musical style. You may perform on more than one instrument.

We encourage you to audition through the musical medium you're most comfortable with.

Examples include:

  • A solo piece or pieces that demonstrate your level of singing and/or playing.
  • A song to demonstrate your singing voice with self-accompaniment on any instrument.
  • A piece or pieces that you will perform with other players and/or singers (e.g., with a jazz combo, band or vocal ensemble).
  • A short (two to three minutes) improvisation on your primary instrument. Vocalists may choose to use an accompanying instrument to support their voice improvisation.

Pre-recorded or live accompaniment may be used for your audition.

Audition Dates

Auditions run from January to April. Dates are available to applicants through Laurier’s Audition Portal*. Two early virtual audition dates will be available on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, 2021.

Additional Audition Information

Meet our auditions coordinator, find out how to apply, what happens after your audition, as well as more about our keyboard facilities on our auditions page.

*A link to the Audition Portal will be provided to you after Laurier receives your application.

Theory and Ear Training Test

Due to COVID-19, applicants for September 2022 entry will not be required to write a theory and ear training test. You will be asked about your theory background during your interview.

Depending on your previous experience and knowledge, you may be asked to complete a theory test at a later date so that you are fully prepared for university level theory.

Aural Skills Assessment

You will be asked to repeat a short melody or rhythmic theme. Assessment will be based on your ability to adapt the given example. This could mean anything from an exact replication to appropriately improvising in the style given.

Reference

Applicants will provide contact information for one reference in the Faculty of Music Online Audition Portal*. The Faculty of Music will contact references individually by email with a questionnaire about the musical abilities of the applicant.

*A link to the Audition Portal will be provided to you after Laurier receives your application.

Portfolio (Optional)

An optional portfolio of past performances, composed and/or original music may be uploaded to the Audition Portal* through video or audio links. This does not replace your audition.

*A link to the Audition Portal will be provided to you after Laurier receives your application.

Program Details

About Community Music

Laurier’s Bachelor of Music in Community Music is based on a world-recognized model of music as social intervention where it is harnessed towards social change, including but not limited to: working with marginalized communities; using music for individual or community development; and using music toward systemic change. Community music as a professional discipline values the diversity of musical cultures and sees all music as cultural practices.

As a student, you will have a significant amount of freedom to design your program to suit your interests, curiosities, and career goals. You will learn a broad suite of skills, from playing various instruments to designing lesson and rehearsal plans to conducting needs assessments for business plans but still have some flexibility to narrow your focus in specific areas of interest.

You are not required to play multiple instruments to be accepted into Community Music, but you will receive training in voice, drumming, and either piano or guitar. Students may also choose to learn other instruments through the technique courses.

You will receive the opportunity to participate in experiential learning placements in a variety of contexts. From schools to nursing homes to libraries to community ensembles to teaching music lessons at community music schools. In your first two years, you will observe or support community musicians already working professionally. In senior years, you will propose, design and implement music programming under the supervision of faculty.

In fourth year, with guidance from a Laurier instructor, you'll have the freedom to create a capstone project that puts your strengths and interests into action. Capstone projects are music initiatives with a social impact.

 

 

Capstone Project

Community music students have designed and implemented a wide variety of projects in their final year. Many are participatory music classes, serving marginalized communities. Some are research-creation projects, interviewing people about experiences and creating music based on the interviews. Some are performances raising awareness about issues. Here are a few examples of kinds of projects:

Participatory

  • Sing-a-long classes for adults with developmental disabilities
  • Singing classes for seniors in a long-term care home
  • Songwriting course for refugee youth in Waterloo
  • Ukelele and drum classes for newcomer families

Research-Creation

  • ‘Music and Memory Across the Lifespan’ research project in collaboration with The Menno Singers
  • Quarantine album: Creating songs from interviews with students about their experiences of school life during the pandemic.
  • Signed Music and Accessibility at Music Concerts: A research talk about making performances more accessible to the deaf, deafened, and hard-of-hearing community.

Performance for Social Change

  • ADD The Musical: Composition of the music, lyrics, and book of a show about a girl’s experiences of ADD in high school.
  • Keep the Conversation Alive: A concert featuring emerging Black artists in Brampton, focusing on #BlackLivesMatter.
  • Polychordal album and website exploring plurality

Program Options and Courses

Apply Your Learning

Here are just a few examples of the experiences you’ll get in the Community Music program:

  • Participate in the Community Music Ensemble as part of your first-year course and showcase your talents.
  • Live in the Singer and Songwriter Residence Learning Community to connect with professors outside the classroom, meet alumni to explore your career paths, and feel the support of your peers.
  • In your final year, you’ll complete a capstone project based on your strengths, interests and career goals under the guidance of your instructor.
Check out the Community Music Experience Guide and other options to enhance your degree.

First-Year Courses

  • Class Drumming
  • Class Voice
  • Community Music Ensemble
  • Foundations of Popular and Commercial Music
  • Introduction to Community Music
  • Music and its Contexts
  • Musicianship I
  • Musicianship II
  • 1.5 electives

Sample Upper-Year Courses

  • Leadership and Facilitation in Community Music Contexts
  • Managing an Arts-Centered Career
  • Songwriting and Song Analysis

Similar Programs

Bachelor of Education Pathway

Take advantage of our automatic admissions agreement with Laurier's Bachelor of Education (BEd). In your fourth year, you'll be eligible for consideration for this stream if you have a GPA of at least 75% and at least 50 hours of relevant volunteer work.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re sure you have questions. We’re here to answer them! Don’t see your question answered below? Email us at choosemusic@wlu.ca.

What do community musicians do?

Community musicians are musicians who specialize in supporting non-musicians in making music. You could think of it as musicians who use music for social impact. Some musicians might lead music-making activities for groups of people who have not had much previous musical training. Some musicians might collaborate with various musicians, artists, or other innovative collaborations to produce music and art that will have positive impacts on communities.

Most community musicians are musicians in their own right and tend to love performing and creating music on their own and with others.

Do I get lessons on my instrument in Community Music? Why not?

Our Community Music program does not offer private studio lessons to students. This is because Community Music uses social models of learning, based on the premise that people learn best in groups.

Our program provides high levels of expertise from instructors, but we also recognize that students come in with diverse and well-developed areas of expertise. Much of our training incorporates peer learning in which students also learn from each other in addition to learning core skills and knowledge.

What can I do with a Community Music degree?

The Community Music degree gives you strong collaboration and leadership skills. Most community musicians are entrepreneurs who are interested in social impact. You might lead music classes in community music schools or other community spaces. You might partner with non-profit organizations to provide music experiences to their clientele.
 
Some graduates go into administration or provide arts programming in hospitals, community centres, youth-serving organizations. You can go into education.

How does Community Music differ from other university music programs?

Students have more control over their learning in the Community Music degree. There is a core curriculum that students follow, but even within that, instructors aim to nurture the individual expertise and interests of students and provide options for students to focus on a specific area of interest.

Community Music also integrates theory and practice. Most seminar courses incorporate the application of knowledge in music-making, leadership, and creative exploration. Community Music also does not assume classical music as the centre of music learning. We tend to take pop/rock/folk music as our jumping-off point, but we also look to study all kinds of music practices, as well as diverse forms of learning music, including various kinds of music notation, and forms of rote learning.

We also have a strong focus on social justice, so many courses focus on understanding forms of music that typically haven’t been studied in university.

What are real world examples of community music that I may be familiar with?

Some forms of Community Music focus on performance or leisure experiences, such as community choirs and bands. Making music or doing it because they love it rather than because they are paid to (community musicians would lead these ensembles — they often need social and musical skills).

Collaborative songwriting classes might be a part of this. Music classes that focus on specific groups of people would be included (e.g. ukulele classes at the library, hip hop classes at schools). There are also music initiatives targeting marginalized populations. These initiatives include songwriting or singing in prisons, choirs for newcomers, and hip-hop pedagogy for youth at risk.

Specific local examples include:

  • Circle of Music led by Master of Arts in Community Music graduate Sasha Judelson (brings high school students together with seniors with Alzheimers to sing and socialize together)
  • Guelph New Horizons Band (Brent Rowan)
  • Heffner Recording Studios at Kitchener Public Library (staff provide support and training to anyone wanting to make or record music)
  • Music schools (e.g. Uptown Music School led by instructor Jason White and Community Music School of Waterloo Region led by Master of Arts in Community Music graduate Caroline Hissa)
  • Outside Voices Community Singers led by Sarah De Hart (recent Master of Arts in Community Music graduate)
  • Royal City Ukelele Ensemble led by Cynthia Kinnunen (recent Master of Arts in Community Music graduate)
  • Vera Causa Opera led by Master of Arts in Community Music graduate Dylan Langan (mixes professional and amateur singers in opera productions)

More prominent national and international examples include:

  • Choir!Choir!Choir! (Toronto no commitment choir).
  • Java Music program for seniors.
  • MoreMusic (nonprofit in England).
  • Regent Park School of Music in Toronto.

Tuition and Scholarships

Getting a university education is an investment in your future.

At Laurier, we take financial health seriously by providing a wide variety of funding opportunities for you throughout your degree, such as scholarships and bursaries, and by equipping you with the skills to manage your finances effectively in the years to come.

Faculty of Music Scholarships

We award roughly $100,000 in Faculty of Music Audition Scholarships to incoming students. This is in addition to any academic entrance scholarships, entrance bursaries or competitive scholarships you may receive.

Audition Scholarships recognize well-rounded students who demonstrate strong technical ability, academic achievement, recreational/extracurricular involvement and/or financial need during their audition process.

"I learned a lot about how to use music within a community setting and greatly improved my improvisation skills! I thoroughly enjoyed learning various instruments and putting the skills I gained into practice. I would highly recommend this program to people who enjoy working in a close-knit community and want to express their love of music in new and innovative ways."

Claudia Vanderheyden, current student in Community Music

"Community Music
is the perfect music program. It allows
 me to use my musical creativity in structured class settings where 
I can strengthen and develop my music-making skills."

Justis Krar, current student in Community Music

Your Career Awaits

It’s not only about the journey; it’s about the destination. Let us help you get to where you’re going.

Here are just some examples of our graduates' destinations. What’s yours?

Sample Career Options

Note: Additional training and education may be required.

  • arts program administrator
  • band director
  • city/cultural event planner
  • classroom/private teacher
  • lyricist
  • music program coordinator
  • music teacher
  • music video director/editor
  • music/arts reporter/journalist
  • performer
  • sound effects designer

Explore more careers.

Support After Graduation

Alumni for life means that you have access to Career and Employment Support offered at Laurier for your entire career.

Waterloo Campus

The Waterloo campus is tucked into about one city block, so you’re steps away from your classes, food and your new favourite study spot.

There are many ways to tour our Waterloo campus, whether that's on a guided tour with one of our Laurier student ambassadors, on your own using virtual reality, or even on-demand through one of our pre-recorded tours. See our campus spaces and start to picture yourself at Laurier.

Interested in More Info?

Email choosemusic@wlu.ca, call 519.884.0710 x2492 or see all Music faculty and staff.