Canadian Music Class Challenge

What is the Canadian Music Class Challenge?

Everything you need to know about this year's contest.

Everything you need to know about this year's contest

CBC Music's Canadian Music Class Challenge is returning this fall!

Every year, we challenge music educators from across Canada to teach their students a Canadian song from our list, but we know that this school year will still be a challenge in different ways for many students and teachers.

However, we were so inspired by the physically distanced creativity shown in last year's contest that we're very confident that students and music teachers will rise to the Challenge once again! We are still asking for a video performance, but we ask that the video performance is done with your recommended provincial or territorial safety measures.

Continue reading below to find out more about the 2021 Canadian Music Class Challenge.

The Canadian Music Class Challenge has returned for 2021. (CBC)

Every fall, CBC Music in association with MusiCounts — the charity of the Juno Awards — launches the Canadian Music Class Challenge, a contest to engage music classes across the country with Canadian music. 

There are three goals to this project:

  • We want kids to learn Canadian music in the classroom.
  • We want to draw attention to the exceptional work music teachers are doing with children across the country.
  • We want to reinforce the importance of music in a well-rounded education.

So how do we do this? Each year we pre-approve a list of Canadian songs, then ask music teachers to pick one and teach their classes a cover version. It could be a note-for-note cover, or you can make it something completely your own. 

We know that September will once again be different than in the past. We are also aware that many music programs will continue to be impacted by the pandemic.

With that said, this year's Challenge will move with our times. We're still asking for a video performance, but we ask that the video performance is done with your recommended provincial safety guidelines.

Once a class performance of the song has been recorded on video, it gets uploaded to the CBC Music YouTube channel, and our judges choose the winners. You can read about our prizes here.

You can check out the 2021 song list now and sign up for the 2021 Challenge starting on Tuesday, Aug. 31. You don't have to submit your video until later this fall (deadline for submissions is Nov. 23).

Last year, despite the pandemic, thousands of music students signed up from every province and territory in Canada.

What do we mean by 'music class'?

We mean everything from music clubs to after-school music programs to traditional school-board programs from elementary school, junior high and high school, as well as auditioned classes. We encourage teachers to enter the challenge no matter what the playing level of his or her class.

Categories and prizes  

Upon registration in the fall, you'll be asked to choose which of eight main categories your class will enter. Choose the one that best suits your music class, and will give your students the fairest hearing. Canadian schools are grouped differently in every province, so if one of these categories doesn't perfectly suit you, choose the one that is closest based on the majority age in the class, or the oldest student. 

The top class in each category will win $3,000 in musical instruments and a gold plaque. The two runners up in each category will also receive plaques.

Additional prizes will be awarded, including $1,000 in musical instruments for the top community music class, and $1,000 in musical instruments for the best performance of "Strawberry Moon (Ode'min Giizis)" by Tara Williamson in Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe nation, as chosen by our judges. 

If your music class or classes performs 'Strawberry Moon / Ode'min Giizis' by Tara Williamson, you should enter in the age-appropriate category 1-8 below. However, all submissions of this song will also qualify for the Indigenous Language Prize above.

Here are the 2021 categories:

  • Category 1: primary instrumental (kindergarten to Grade 3).
  • Category 2: primary vocal (a cappella or with instruments) (kindergarten to Grade 3) 
  • Category 3: elementary instrumental (grades 4-6)
  • Category 4: elementary vocal (a cappella or with instruments)  (grades 4 - 6)
  • Category 5: junior instrumental (grades 7-10)
  • Category 6: junior vocal (a cappella or with instruments) (grades 7-10)
  • Category 7: senior instrumental (grades 11-12)
  • Category 8: senior vocal (a cappella or with instruments) (grades 11-12)

We want to help tell the story of your music class

Best of all, your class could be featured on CBC's digital, radio and television platforms, showcasing how great the music program is in your school.

Every year, a couple of lucky and talented music classes receive surprise visits by the artists they have chosen to cover. In the past, our classroom visits have involved ArkellsWintersleepLightsRuth BSaid the Whale, and the Jerry Cans

Want some more info?

Everything you need to know about the 2021 Challenge can be found here.

For further information, please contact, or register for our newsletter below.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now