Message from the Chair

Karen Burke, Associate Professor
Department of Music
School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design

Research collaborations between two parties are quite common in academia. A three-way partnership between a family foundation, a university and a community arts organization is much rarer, but that is exactly how one would describe the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts.

As the Inaugural Fellow of this vibrant initiative, it has been my pleasure to represent and work alongside the School of Arts, Media Performance and Design (AMPD) at York University, the Carswell Family Foundation and the RPSM School of Music to benefit children in the Jane and Finch community.

Various faculty and community leaders form an Advisory Working Group for the Helen Carswell Chair. This includes our Dean, our Research Associate, Dr. Karen Cyrus, and the leadership team of RPSM ably led by Executive Director, Richard Marsella. They have worked very hard to develop a forum for multi-disciplinary research that will, no doubt, not only impact students and their families in the Jane-Finch community, but community music programs everywhere.

The first time that I was introduced to the RPSM was through their innovative and passionate, Executive Director, Richard Marsella. His single-minded focus and commitment to thinking ‘outside of the box’ with regard to music education is one of the reasons that this Chair exists.

Since its inception, the Helen Carswell community of researchers has grown along with the excitement around new research that is being made available to invested and interested stakeholders, community arts partners and subsequently, to the community at large.  Join us on the journey of discovery as, together, we all work towards the goal of intentional pathways of success for students in the Jane-Finch area through thoughtful community arts organization initiatives. (August 2019)

Learn more about RPSM here.


Start planning .... the deadline will be in January 2020.
More details are to follow soon. In the meanwhile review the CFPs from our previous years.

Members of the Carswell research team presented a workshop at York University's Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) on August 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm. The title of the workshop was “Equity through community music programming: barriers and bridges to resources and representation.” The abstract for the workshop and handouts may be accessed in the collection below.

Members of the Helen Carswell Research Team facilitated sessions at RPSM's professional development workshops. They provided valuable information to help RPSM teachers improve their teaching practice. Below are descriptions of the workshops:

September 3
Title: Trauma Informed Practice
Facilitator: Cathy Pavlik, Ph.D. candidate
AMPD, Department of Music
Cathy discussed how to identify signs and symptoms of trauma in children at different development stages.

September 5
Title: Positive Youth Development
Facilitators: Tanika McLeod and colleagues of YouthREX (Principal Investigator: Uzo Anucha, Ph.D.)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, School of Social Work
Members of Uzo’s research team from YouthREX presented a 2-hour workshop on critical youth engagement. They explored the benefits and barriers to equitable youth engagement, tools to assess and support youth-adult partnerships, as well as "practice-able" ways to facilitate equitable space for authentic youth engagement.

September 6
Title: Multilevel group-piano classes: management, methods, and materials.
Facilitator: Karen Cyrus, Ph.D., LRSM, OCT
AMPD, Helen Carswell Research Associate
Karen discussed tools and strategies to navigate three challenges of teaching multilevel piano classes.

On November 8, members of the Carswell Research Team will discuss a poster presentation on Pan-African music repertoire at the Ontario Music Educator's Association (OMEA) Opus 100 conference.

Contact Information

Karen Burke at
Karen Cyrus at

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