Message from the Chair

Amy Hillis, D.Mus.,
Associate Professor
Department of Music
School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design

The study, teaching, and implementation of academic research in the arts relies on its connection to external and “real-world” artistic practice. As scholars, researchers, teachers and performers at York University’s School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design, we seek opportunities to learn from our communities, share our own passions, and grow in a constant dialogue. The mission of the Helen Carswell Chair is to facilitate relationships between the York community and communities outside the university through the arts.

Established and supported by the Carswell Family Foundation in 2016, the Helen Carswell Chair supports research that explores community cultural development. With a focus on fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with the Jane-Finch community, the Helen Carswell Chair is proud to have a long-term partnership with RPSM Jane & Finch, the most recent branch of the incredible Regent Park School of Music. Through our work with RPSM and other Community Arts organizations, we seek to disseminate new knowledge and research to community-based groups in the Jane/Finch community and in other high-risk neighbourhoods around the world..

As a new member to this team, I am honoured to be a part of this mission to support community-engaged research in the arts. I look forward to working with community leaders in Jane/Finch neighbourhood and beyond as we explore how arts can empower and represent children of all ages, from all backgrounds..

Learn more about RPSM here.
See RPSM performances here.




JULY 2020
AMPD is pleased to welcome our new Helen Carswell Chair, Amy Hillis.

JUNE 2020
June 30 marked the end of Karen Burke’s tenure as the Helen Carswell Chair.
We would like to thank Karen Burke for her dedication to the Helen Carswell Chair over the past three years. Thanks to her compassionate and excellent leadership, this partnership with RPSM has made an indelible mark in the Jane and Finch community, at York University, and in the field of community-engaged research in the arts.

MARCH 2020
March 16
Message from Karen Burke: Thank you so much for your interest in the exciting ongoing research through the unique partnership between the Carswell Family Fund, York University and RPSM. We are currently in the midst of a new CFP season with the deadline of March 16. While we are thankful to those who have already submitted, we recognize that the extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances affecting the world at this time present a variety of disruptions including academic, work, travel and societal that may affect timely submissions. With this in mind and with the information that we have today, we will extend the deadline to March 31. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

February 28, 2020
The deadline for the call for proposals was extended to March 16, 2020

January 23, 2020
2020 Carswell Call for Proposals: The Helen Carswell Chair is pleased to welcome the submission of research proposals that can inform the practice, programming, or curricula of RPSM - Jane and Finch. All faculty and graduate students of AMPD, Health, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Education, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Law, Business, and Science may apply.The call for proposals may be accessed below.

January 6, 2020
Administrators from RPSM - Jane and Finch are now located at York University.
The administrator for the RPSM-Jane and Finch programs now has an office (ACE rm 360) in the Music Department. Contact Vanessa Chase, the RPSM-Jane and Finch site coordinator, at (437) 779-0504 / jf@rpmusic.org, or call RPSM's main office at 416-364-8900 for more information. Their York U. office hours are Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm. Kindly call in advance for appointments.


On December 5, members of Uzo Anucha’s research team from YouthREX presented a webinar titled "Striking A Chord: The Power of Music Programs for Young People." Our research chair, Karen Burke, along with RPSM staff and a former student from RPSM, spoke about the impact of RPSM's music programs. This webinar also included presenters from other community music programs who gave rich accounts of the impact of their programs. There is much to learn about the impact of community music program by watching this webinar; it may be accessed here.

On November 8, members of the Carswell Research Team presented and discussed a poster on Pan-African music repertoire at the Ontario Music Educator's Association (OMEA) Opus 100 conference. The abstract for the poster and other related resources 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.

September 19
Members of the Carswell Research Team and RPSM met with members of Research Impact Canada at Daniel Spectrum in Regent Park, Toronto. They discussed and answered questions on the Helen Carswell research team experience.

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.


Contact Information

Amy Hillis at ahillis@yorku.ca
Karen Cyrus at kcyrus@yorku.ca

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