Research and Projects


2024 Forum: Music Pathways 2: Industry x Tech

SoundLife Scarborough

How do musicians thrive in today’s world? How do universities, colleges, and communities empower the next generation for the ever-changing music industry? Technology plays a vital role, both shaping and changing how music is made and enjoyed, and opening up new career paths. We’ll explore current ways musicians create, sustain and grow their careers in Scarborough, the GTA, and beyond. Join us for panels, workshops, performances, food, conversation, and more.

2023 Symposium: Mapping Music Pathways: Access and Opportunities in Community, Post-Secondary, and Public School Music

SoundLife Scarborough

This symposium recognizes that barriers to accessing musical opportunities have been well documented and asks: what actions are we taking to remedy them? Our goal is to consider music-making across lifespan and sectors, toward action in removing existing barriers and creating accessible pathways for all who wish to participate. The symposium will consist of themed panels, participatory music-making activities, and interactive “music pathways mapping stations” for all attendees.

Publications and Presentations


Blurring boundaries: Expanding conceptions of sustainability through blended roles in community music-making

Laura Menard, PhD; Navshimmer Kalra; Katherine Marshall

This paper presents two autoethnographies in ‘boundary-blurring’ through community music-making opportunities derived from undergraduate facilitator/participant/administrator experiences at SoundLife Scarborough (SLS) at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). SLS’s values of access, well-being, flexible music-making, and reciprocity dovetail with several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Here, we explore boundary-blurring engagements with this community music program as a means of sustainability: of redistributing power across age, culture, and experience; of building institution- and community-oriented relationships; and addressing local issues of access to arts programming and education. This paper analyzes the writers’ experiences of the development of relationships of reciprocity and broadening community, leading to sustainability-oriented development inclusive of playing, learning, and discovery. Together, we ask: How are conditions for sustainable community music making supported by boundary-blurring engagements?

Keywords: Boundaries, community music, sustainability, autoethnography


“Campus, community, and deci-rebellions: (Re)claiming space for sounding”

Laura Menard, PhD

The COVID-19 pandemic’s fundamental disruption to post-secondary campus acoustemologies (Feld, 1996) continues to shape sonic expectations. Focusing on my experiences coordinating an accessible community-engaged music hub operating out of a major university in Ontario, Canada, concerns around student sound-making (i.e., ‘noise’) are being communicated continually by university staff and faculty as students – and along with them, student-centered activities – return to campus. I share challenges around the sonic student-centered revitalization of campus space through what I am calling ‘deci-rebellions’: ways in which individuals, ensembles, and student groups are reclaiming sonic agency (LaBelle, 2018) as they push back against calls for quiet in this period of pandemic emergence, improvising sonic outputs in digital and live instrumental workshopping, rehearsing, and performing. With a nod towards public space discourse (Massey, 2005), these encounters lead me to question: What are indicators of sonic vitality and sustainability on campus; and why does supporting sonic activism (Johnson,2015) feel more urgent than ever?

Keywords: sound, agency, students, campus, pandemic, public space


“Educative tracings: Sonic drifting towards sustainable futures in music education”

Laura Menard, PhD

Exploring the notion that the sustainability of music education depends upon listening to – and through – the voices of the past, to the spectral traces and reverberations of experience, this paper invites novel considerations for ways forward by listening backward. Inspired by Gallagher’s (2015) “Sounding ruins,” I reflect upon the creation of an audio drift, constructed out of a series of interviews conducted with high school music educators in Ontario, Canada during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic as they considered the future of music education. Grounded in acoustemological (Feld, 1996) perception, this presentation includes a sharing of the audio drift as a means of collective (i.e., listener-engaged) earwitnessing (Schafer, 1977; Wargo, 2018), providing a foundation for dreaming out loud (Lewis, 2022). Through this paper, I invite considerations of the educative components of researcher-practitioners’ own sounded histories, tuning into what we have – and have not – heard through our research and in our classrooms, in so doing, addressing vital the questions: “Who is music education for?” “What can the sounds of the past tell us about the future?” and “What are the consequences if we do not heed them?”

Keywords: research, sound studies, earwitnessing, music education

Current Research Projects

Scarborough Music Archive

Co-Leads: Prof. Mark Campbell and Prof. Laura Risk

This project works through two interrelated concepts, reciprocity and relation, to achieve a higher level of connection to the local community amongst our students. Students in several Music & Culture courses are co-creating a Scarborough music archive as a curricular innovation that will serve future generations of UTSC students as well as the local Scarborough community. This project works to deepen connections between local music, future curricula, and members of the local Scarborough community.


Dr. Kotoka Suzuki

Amplify! is a mentorship program with a special emphasis to support female and/or non-binary musicians in the Scarborough and UTSC community interested in music-making and production. The program will offer Scarborough youth from local high schools’ access to professional training, guidance, and resources needed to thrive in the music industry with no previous background and at no cost.

Community Music Database Project

Dr Roger Mantie

Community Music organizations provide group-based performing and/or learning opportunities that emphasize active collaboration with other musicians across a wide range of ages, abilities, foci, instrumentation, commitment levels, and group structures. This database will provide individuals seeking community music opportunities across the country with information regarding organizations in their area; and community music organizations with a place to share their activities.

Speaker Series

Music & Culture Speaker/Performance Series

SoundLife Scarborough

The Music & Culture Speaker/Performance Series showcases the breadth and depth of a variety of professional relationships to music. Invited speakers to this series are asked to both speak to and perform their relationships to music-making, composition, and/or performance in order to provide students with an accessible experience by which they can explore the various ways that scholars and artists research, create, and share music.