The day the music died: Red Deer College ends its music diploma program

Citing declining enrolment and interest, Red Deer College is ending its music diploma program.

At least one graduate is devastated over the decision to suspend the program.

“I think it’s a huge loss to the performing arts community in Central Alberta, ” said Charlotte Mason, who graduated from the program in 2017. “I’m really sad for all the people who don’t get to experience it.”

Originally from Sylvan Lake, Mason is a music education student at the University of Victoria.

“The instructors were inspiring and knowledgeable and made the program a great place to be,” said Mason, who plays the flute.

“You get lots of performance opportunities and that was super beneficial to me and helped me grow and learn.”

Jason Frizzell, RDC school of creative arts dean, said the college has decided to suspend intake to the program.

He said the six to eight students currently enrolled in the program will be able to finish their diploma, but no new students will be accepted.

“It’s really just a matter of enrolment and demand,” said Frizzell. “It’s had decreasing enrolment over the last several years. In that time other providers in the province have really beefed up their degree offerings and their facilities.”

Frizzell pointed to programs at the University of Lethbridge and Grant MacEwan University as prominent examples of music degree programs in Alberta.

The program counts Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang as a former member.

“It’s been harder and harder for us to attract music majors,” said Frizzell. “The students finishing their second year in 2018-19 will be fully supported. We are fully committed to supporting them so they can complete their credentials.”

Even though the college is ending its diploma program, Frizzell said they are maintaining music electives at the college, which he says have been popular with bachelor of education students, bachelor of arts and open studies students.

“We also have a lot of demand from the community to play in our bands and choirs and we’re going to maintain that opportunity,” said Frizzell.

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