I completed a Master of Arts in music, a Master of Arts in applied linguistics and a PhD in music (ethnomusicology) at York University, Toronto. I hold an LRSM (Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music) in teaching piano and I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Language, Literature and the Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
I have a strong interest in Afrodiasporic community music making practices, pan-African children’s repertoires, and social justice in music education. My doctoral research explored sites of struggle and innovation among reggae musicians in Afrodiasporic communities in Jamaica, Toronto, the United States and the United Kingdom from the 1950s to 1990. I investigated community practices in steelpan orchestras throughout Toronto in 2007 which was published in Carnival: Theory and Practice (Africa World Press, 2013). In my postdoctoral fellowship at Ryerson University titled “Mapping Ontario’s Black Archive” I explored Black collections in institutional and community archives throughout Ontario, and documented ways in which persons of African descent have been represented.
My approach to repertoire analysis and development is published in The Sage Encyclopedia of Music and Culture (2019). Research that I have undertaken over the past two decades aims to provide educators access to repertoires that will increase representation for anglophone and francophone learners of African descent in music classrooms. This includes a series of music education textbooks that features children’s music from the Caribbean: Music for Big Ants and Little Ants (1998) and Caribbean Integrated Music (2002, 2004).
My work in community music includes curriculum development for a Caribbean community music program in Toronto and workshops on music and social justice for the YRDSB. I also have an interest in the principles and best practices of collaborative research: for five years I served as the research associate for the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts at York University. In that role I fostered and facilitated partnerships between community music organizations and researchers to improve music programming and curriculum for racialized youth in the Jane and Finch area in Toronto.
Open to supervising directed readings for MA and PhD students.
Cyrus, K. (Invited/Forthcoming 2022). “Jamaican mento in music education: Representation, rediscovery, and reframing roots repertoires.” In Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Music Education. Eds. Marissa Silverman and Nasim Niknafs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cyrus, Karen. (submitted/Forthcoming 2022). “Pan-African music repertoire and
representation in community music in Canada.” In The Routledge Companion to Applied Musicology. Ed. Christopher Dromey. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Cyrus, Karen. (2019) “Repertoire.” In Sage Encyclopedia of Music and Culture. ed. Janet Sturman pp. 1811-1814.
Cyrus, Karen. (2014). “Lessons from the Past: The Work Culture of Session Musicians in Jamaica’s Recording Industry from 1957-1979.” MUSICultures 40 (2): 30-56.
Cyrus, Karen. (2013). “Why They Play Pan: Steel Band Communities in the GTA.” In Carnival: Theory and practice. pp. 207-216. Eds. Christopher Innes, Annabel Rutherford and Brigitte Bogar. New Jersey: Africa World Press.
Cyrus, K., Burke, K., Amponsah, E. & Tecle, S. (2019). “Equity through community music programming: Barriers and bridges to resources and representation.” Workshop presented at FESI 2019 Dismantling the Barriers to Education, August 22, 2019. York University, Toronto.
Cyrus, K., Burke, K. & Wilson, A. (2019). “Black music in music education: repertoire, representation, and courageous conversations.” Poster presentation, Ontario Music Educators Association OMEA/CMIEC Conference, OPUS 100, Nov. 7-9, 2019. Toronto, Canada.
Cyrus, K & Marsella, R. (2021). “Many rivers to cross: Social justice through performance and collaboration.” The Children, Youth and Performance Conference. York University, Toronto: Virtual conference.
Cyrus, K. (2021). “Musical communities and community music: Frameworks and structures.” Pan African Society for Musical Arts Education PASMAE 2021 Regional Conference on Equity and Diversity in Musical Arts Education. Zambia: Virtual conference.
Cyrus, K. & Burke, K. (2021). “Confronting Anti-Black racism through representation in community music programming.” Canadian University Music Society, MusCan 2021 Conference. Western University: Virtual conference.
Cyrus, K. & Jefford, M. (2021). “Sankofa: Integrating pan-African repertoires in music education.” Newfoundland and Labrador Music Educators Association Annual Conference: NLMEA Resonate 2021. St. John’s, NL. Virtual conference.
I look forward to a collaborative journey of teaching and learning with students at Laurier.
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