'Sobering, yet unavoidable': McGill music conservatory to close after nearly 100 years

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The McGill University music conservatory is entering its finale. 

Part of the Schulich School of Music, the conservatory will close this summer after nearly a century of providing private lessons to Montreal musicians of all ages.

According to the university, the decision was made, in part, due to a pandemic-fueled case of low enrollment.

"As it has done with many aspects of our lives, the pandemic has dramatically changed the reality of operating the conservatory," reads a statement from McGill Music Dean Brenda Ravenscroft and incoming Dean Sean Ferguson.

Before COVID-19 hit, more than 550 students took private lessons each year, with upwards of 100 instructors employed.

Last year, when lessons took place online, those numbers dwindled to 300 and 62, respectively. 

"Our best-case projection for in-person enrollment for next year would not exceed 100 students," the statement continues. "The trend is as clear as it is unfortunate."

Financial issues have only been exacerbated by rising operational costs, Ravenscroft and Ferguson explain.

In the past, the Schulich School offered free teaching spaces to instructors. But as university-level programs have expanded, these spaces now come at a "critical premium."

"This has been an extremely difficult decision, and one made only after careful consideration and analysis," the statement concludes. "The conclusions are sobering, yet unavoidable."

The university says currently registered students will finish their courses, but no new registrations will be accepted after the summer.

Originally called the McGill Conservatorium, the program opened in 1904.