The bureau evolved from the Canadian Piano and Organ Manufacturers' Association's 'Music in the Home' campaign, developed and directed by John A. Fullerton who became the bureau's first managing director in 1919. Fullerton was succeeded in 1922 by Capt John S. Atkinson. From 1920 until the demise of Canada's piano building industry, the association helped fund the bureau by means of a levy on each piano built in Canada.
The bureau's long association with the CNE began in 1921 when it organized the first of the exhibition's Music Days. It functioned then as the music department of the CNE, organizing the annual competitions and recitals. In 1954, when its headquarters were established in the exhibition grounds, it expanded its activities to include co-administration, with the CBDA, of the band competitions.
In the 1920s the bureau inaugurated essay contests, community music weeks, and local music festivals. In 1922 in Toronto it held the first of its teacher-training courses in the techniques of group or class piano instruction. These were to become its major and continuing project. By 1926 class piano instruction was being given as an extracurricular activity in public schools. At first a two-year basic program that included theoretical rudiments, it later increased to a three-year course, using a syllabus prepared by the bureau.
After World War II class instruction in violin was begun and was then taken over by individual boards of education.There was a steady increase in enrolment in the piano classes at this time and adult classes were established in association with the University of Toronto's Extension Dept. Piano teacher training courses have been conducted in centres across Canada, with supervisors located in all the major cities in which the program functions. In 1990 more than 4,000 students were enrolled in extracurricular piano classes, mainly in Ontario communities and also in Quebec. The bureau continued to provide information and materials to centres in western Canada.
Following Atkinson's death, Richard Edmunds became the managing director in 1954, and Edmunds was succeeded by Clifford Hunt in 1969. Hunt's continuing work as director of the music department of the CNE perpetuated and focused the close relationship between the department and the bureau, a situation that continued in 1990.
Author Patricia Wardrop, Clifford O. Hunt, Florence Hayes
Edmunds, Richard. 'Promoting music,' Recorder, vol 8, Nov-Dec 1965
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