Founded as the music section of the Ontario Educational Association, the OMEA held its first meeting in April 1919 at the OEA Conference in Toronto. Its initial membership consisted of 18 public-school music supervisors and instructors from the provincial normal schools. During the 1920s it concerned itself chiefly with the promotion of compulsory vocal music instruction in elementary schools, and participated in the 'note-name' versus 'tonic sol-fa' controversy. In the next decade it began to lobby for music courses in high schools and for instrumental music instruction at all levels. It initiated an annual concert on the Wednesday night of the OEA Easter Conventions 1933-60. This concert featured elementary and high school music groups from across the province, conducted by such educators as Leslie Bell, G. Roy Fenwick, P. George Marshall, Harvey Perrin, Leonard Richer, and Robert Rosevear. The concerts began to be broadcast over the CBC network in 1938, and were expanded into mass concerts at Toronto's Varsity Stadium during World War II.
In 1949 the OEA music section was reorganized and the OMEA was formed; in May 1974 it became independent of the OEA. In its early days the OEA music section used Musical Canada (which featured a 'School Music Department' section) and the Canadian School Board Journal as its official magazines, providing these with its announcements and news. The OMEA founded its own journal, The Recorder, in September 1958, and in 1990 continued to publish it quarterly.
The OMEA has organized several regional workshops a year, and until the dissolution of its ties with the OEA in 1974, it also held a yearly convention. In 1982, 1984 and 1986 it held three-day conventions, and organized regional workshops. Beginning in 1987, the Canadian Music Industry Education Committee became a joint sponsor of annual workshops. Keynote speakers at conventions and annual meetings have included Larry Eismann, Karl Ernst, Mary Hoffman, Paul Gehrkens, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Joseph Maddy, Clifford K. Madsen, Walter Pitman, Joyce Reimer, Paul van Bodegraven, Stephen Lewis, Maureen Forrester, the Canadian Brass, Bob Ezrin and Eleanor Newman.
In addition, the OMEA has sponsored symposia and has held joint conventions with the CMEA. Mini-conferences at Cedar Glen (1981, 1982, 1989) examined the philosophical basis of the association. A development from the first Cedar Glen meeting was the OMEA's association with the Rhombus Media film 'A Sense of Music,' telecast on TVOntario in March 1984. Though instrumental in the founding of the CMEA, the OMEA was not formally affiliated with the national association until 1981.
Author Diana Brault, Alexis Luko
Brault, Diana. 'A history of the Ontario Music Educators Association (1919-1974),' unpublished PH D thesis (ESM Rochester 1977)
- Series of articles, variously titled, in successive issues of The Recorder, beginning in vol 20, Dec 1977
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