Queen's University, Dan School of Drama and Music

Dr. John Burge has been teaching Theory and Composition courses at Queen's University's since 1987.  John has always enjoyed the flexible nature of the Bachelor of Music program at Queen's particularly in the ways that students are given ample freedom in selecting elective courses within the BMUS program.  This element of academic freedom is very important in a student's upper years of study when they might want to explore a number of different areas of interest.  This is an especially valuable opportunity for students in a time of rapidly shifting cultural patterns, music industry practices and society norms.  Providing students with a strong required core of music courses in the first two years of the Bachelor of Music program, students are given a firm foundation upon which to build in their final two years of study.  As our program does not have a graduate division, students in their final BMus year are often treated like budding graduate students and provided with a significant amount of indvidual attention.  This attention certainly prepares them well for graduate studies should they wish to continue in that direction.

After many years of dreaming and planning, Queen's University opened the Isabel Centre for the Performing Arts in the fall of 2014.  A truly state-of-the-art building situated on the shores of Lake Ontario it includes a black-box theatre and 560-seat concert hall.  The building's third floor is devoted entirely to the Department of Film and Media Studies.  There has always been a strong connection at Queen's between the School of Music and the Department of Drama and now that we are even more closely connected by the performing facilities in the Isabel, both units voted to merge into a single entity in 2015.  This merger did not in anyway alter the Bachelor of Music degree but enabled a more tangible collaboration in areas of overlap such as music theatre studies and performance.  In 2016, in recognition of the large endowment provided by Leslie Dan, the recently merged unit was renamed the Dan School of Drama and Music.  Excitingly, we are now offering one of the few Bachelor of Music Theatre degrees in North America and expect to see more new offerings in this area.

"While there are many courses that I enjoy teaching at Queen's, students often tell me how much they enjoy my Introduction to Orchestration class.  This course has taken many years to develop but one of the things that makes it successful is that there is no upper limit to the number of students and the enrolment has even peaked at more than 50 students.  A high number of students is a real asset because the class is designed around three performance reading sessions of assignments for string orchestra, for a woodwind ensemble and ending with an original fanfare composed and scored for a brass and percussion ensemble.  Having lots of students means that the ensembles are large enough to do justice to the students' work.  The goal of having to prepare a score and parts for a performance class mirrors a real-world situation of working to deadlines—Always a good thing.  Although this course is really only a one semester course, it is spread out over the entire year to give students sufficient time to prepare their scores and performance material.

In 2015 Dr. John Burge was thrilled to share with Dr. Stephanie Lind, the Excellence in Teaching Award presented annually to faculty in Music at Queen's University by the Music Departmental Student Council.

Queen's University Community Music [formerly Queen's University Conservatory of Music]

John enjoys teaching a few VERY talented private students through the Queen's University Community Music, a non-university program that has students of all ages including a great many retired individuals.  John usually teaches a few younger students and/or adults each year, often only meeting every few weeks to work on a composition.  With younger students, John often requires that they prepare and write Theory and/or Harmony Exams at the same time. 

Click to Download Larger Version

Alex Nediak (age 12) and Leo Nediak (age 10) displaying their first prize winning certificates and medals in the Carol Klose-Hal Leonard Composition Competition for the piano duet entitled, Elegy, that they composed, performed and recorded (on YouTube) in the 2013.


Leo Nediak (age 13) in a photo with John submitted to the Ontario Registered Music Teachers' Grace Notes Publication with a story describing Leo's success at the National Finals in the Registered Music Teachers Composition Competition.  Leo's Fantasy No. 1, for solo piano, received first prize in 15 and under category and his Rhapsody No. 1, for cello and piano, received second prize in the Open category.  Leo's Fantasy was awarded the grand prize as the best competition submitted in 2016.