James Madison University School of Music

JMU Office of International Programs Summer Study Abroad

The Culture of Montréal

Session Coordinator: Professor Chuck Dotas
JMU School of Music
540.568.6180 | email: dotascj@jmu.edu

June 13 - July 13, 2015


'I loved the Montréal summer session so much that I decided to move there after graduation…now it's my daily life.'

              -- Lisa Malachowski (Music Industry)

 "Being in Montéal allowed to me to see the world from a different, fantastically cultured point of view. This trip truly changed my life."

               -- Samantha Leonetti (Mathematics)

"The Montréal summer session was a great experience for me, especially as a non-jazz studies student.  Being able to explore such a cultured city is something I will never forget."

              -- Phil Cangelosi (Organizational Communication Studies)

“Montréal is incredibly diverse—and the food alone has been known to change students’ lives.”

               -- Melissa Ludwig (Music Education)

"The Montreal trip was easily one the best decisions I have made during my time at JMU. The experiences I had there are the stuff of movies..."

              -- Matt Sorrentino (Music Industry)

“The Montéal trip was a great experience that had an immediate impact on my life, both personally and professionally.  I discovered many new things, I made friendships that I will value for a long time, and I got a job out of it--who could ask for more?”

              -- William Kenlon, (Music Composition)

“Going to Montréal was one of the best things I have ever done…”

              -- Laura Vines (Music Education)


Program Highlights — all included in the Program Fee
The session fee includes all meals, room and board, class materials, Bixi Bike and Metro system passes, a group excursion to Québéc City for La Fete de la St-Jean Baptiste with lodging at the beautiful Chateau Frontenac (http://www.fairmont.com/frontenac/), and weekly group dinners at world-class Montréal restaurants.

Extensive orientation to Montréal’s many neighborhoods, including the Old Port, the Plateau District, Little Italy, Little India, the Underground City, the Jean-Talon Farmer’s Market, Centre-ville, Chinatown, le Quartier Latin, and Parc du Mont-Royal.

Attendance at several outdoor festivals, including the Montréal Fringe Festival,
le Festival Francofolie, and the world’s largest jazz/world music festival,
le Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (http://www.montrealjazzfest.com/)

Montréal International Fireworks Competition

Program Fee and Tuition Costs

Program Fee: $3,500 USD (may be increased or decreased slightly due to student enrollment and exchange rate fluctuation).
Tuition: six credits of JMU tuition (per-credit amount varies by residency and undergraduate/graduate status); per-credit cost is identical to JMU’s regular semester tuition per-credit fee for a given academic year.  All financial aid plans used for regular semester tuition costs are eligible to be applied toward Summer Study Abroad tuition and program fees.

Classes offered

Students generally register for six credits (if you wish to enroll for nine credits, contact Chuck Dotas).

Course offered through the Cluster II General Education curriculum

Group 1: GHUM 251M  Modern Perspectives: Urban Culture and the Arts in Montréal (Human Questions & Contexts)
    Montréal is one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities, and its unique mix of cultures is as integral to Montréal's identity as its bilingualism. This course will immerse students in many facets of Montréal life, including class field trips to art museums, cathedrals, club nightlife, jam sessions (including the Sunday afternoon drum jams on Mont Royal), festival concerts, soccer matches, and spoken-word performances.  Admission costs to these events are covered by the course tuition.  Several guest speakers will also talk to the class, including the young chef of a trendy Mile-End restaurant, a JMU alumna who now lives in Montréal, a Quebec political science expert, and representatives of the pro-separatist and pro-unification factions of Quebec’s ongoing efforts to secede from Canada.

Group 2: GMUS 220M Music in General Culture (Visual & Performing Arts)
    This course is cross-listed with GHUM 251M (see above).  The two classes meet at the same time and share most of the class excursions, though students registering for this class as GMUS 200M will focus more extensively on live musical performances.  Students may register for whichever course number best satisfies their Cluster II General Education requirements, but may not register for both GHUM 251M and GMUS 200M concurrently.

Group 3: GENG 221M Literature, Culture, and Ideas (Literature)
    This course comprises a thematic approach to literature by examining multiple short-form literary texts that engage with a common course theme concerned with the human experience.  In-class discussion constitutes the majority of the course’s activity.

Non-General Education courses offered

1.  MUS 356M  History of Jazz (3 credits)
Fulfills upper level elective requirements for the School of Education, the School of Music, and other JMU degree programs.
    An introduction to the most notable musicians and recordings in the American jazz genre.  In lieu of a written text, class meetings will focus extensively on classic jazz recordings, with guided listening and historical information provided by the instructor.  Students will have the opportunity to hear some of these musicians in concert at the world’s largest jazz festival, Le Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, and to attend weekly jam sessions by professional Montréal musicians. Admission costs for these performances are covered by the course tuition.

2.  MUS 440M  Jazz Improvisation (3 credits)
Fulfills Jazz Improvisation credits toward the Jazz Studies Concerntration and Jazz Studies Minor in the JMU School of Music.
    This class meets daily, focusing on the development of each student’s jazz improvisation style.  Specific repertoire will be determined based on the experience level of the class; the class may be divided into two sections (beginner and advanced levels) to maximize the experience of each student.  Attendance at, and participation in, one of Montréal’s several nightly jazz jam sessions will be encouraged, but not required.

Talk to Student Participants from Previous Sessions
Please feel free to contact the JMU students who participated in one of the recent
Culture of Montréal programs (listed below):

Ben Brosche  broschbn@dukes.jmu.edu
Phil Cangelosi  cangelpj@dukes.jmu.edu
Rapheal Carbajal  carbajar@dukes.jmu.edu
Taylor Cardwell  cardwetm@dukes.jmu.edu
Ian Greene  greeneia@dukes.jmu.edu
Eric Henriksen  henrikej@dukes.jmu.edu
Samantha Leonetti  leonetsa@dukes.jmu.edu
Shannon Mayne  maynesm@dukes.jmu.edu
Jom McWilliams  mcwilljr@dukes.jmu.edu
 Keelan Muscara  muscarkc@dukes.jmu.edu
Riccardo Pistone  pistonrj@dukes.jmu.edu
Mike Pressel  pressemd@dukes.jmu.edu
Rachel Smith  smith5rm@dukes.jmu.edu
Matt Sorrentino  sorrenms@dukes.jmu.edu
Jason Staub  staubja@dukes.jmu.edu
Clay Trinkle  trinklsc@dukes.jmu.edu
Quentin Walston  walstoqm@dukes.jmu.edu
Dan Warren  warrendb@dukes.jmu.edu
Sarah Wilcox  wilcoxsk@dukes.jmu.edu

 Enrollment Procedure
1. Inform the Summer Study in Montréal Session Coordinator (Chuck Dotas, dotascj@jmu.edu) of your interest in the session. 

2. Complete the required application forms available on the JMU Office of International Programs registration website: http://www.jmu.edu/international/abroad/forms.shtml

3. The application deadline is rolling each year, but always before March 1. If you are accepted into the program, the $500.00 non-refundable deposit will be due to JMU’s Office of International Programs (contact them for the exact due date of this fee).   If the program is forced to be canceled by JMU, the deposit will be returned; if the applicant decides to not attend the study abroad program, the fee will be forfeited.

4. No transcripts or written essays are required for this program; the only requirement in addition to the application is a brief in-person interview with session coordinator
Dr. Charles Dotas (dotascj@jmu.edu).

If you are considering going, but need further information, please email Professor Dotas with questions or to arrange a meeting (see the FAQ).

The Arts in Montréal Summer Session: Frequently Asked Questions
1.  Is this program for jazz performers or music majors only?
    No.  This program is designed for anyone interested in learning more about the culture of Montréal, and courses are available for all levels of student, from the non-musician to the experienced performer.

2.  What is covered in the Session Fee?
    The session fee covers all housing and subway transportation costs once you get to Montréal (including ViaRail Canada transportation to and from Quebec City and lodging at the Chateau Frontenac during la fete de la St-Jean Baptiste). Taxi fare in Montréal is not included, but you shouldn't need to take taxis except when returning from late shows (the metro stops running at 2 am most nights).  JMU is not allowed to cover transportation costs to and from host cities in the Study Abroad Program (insurance regulations), but getting to Montréal is much cheaper than traveling to any of JMU's overseas Study Abroad destinations  (13 hour drive from Harrisonburg; 10 hour train ride from Washington, DC; inexpensive flight from anywhere on the east coast). Part of this experience will be to eat in several great restaurants; the cost of this dining is included in the session fee.  Each student also receives 20.00 (CAD) per day as a stipend for meals. All course-related costs (except for tuition), including private lessons with Montréal musicians (if desired) are also included in the fee.

3.  What do the courses entail?
    All of the classes are held on the campus of McGill University in the heart of downtown Montréal (this is also the location of the student lodging).  The classes are designed primarily to let you experience the cultural scene in Montréal by immersing yourself in it, rather than by reading about it.
    The Jazz Improvisation class is taught at two levels: one for performers who are pursuing JMU’s Jazz Studies Concentration or the Jazz Studies Minor, and a second level for the novice improviser.  Both will involve daily playing and coaching from the instructor.
    A prominent component of all courses will be spending time in different districts of Montréal. It is an incredibly diverse city, with thriving Latino, Cuban, north African, Asian, Caribbean, gay, and student communities. Each district has great restaurants, street festivals, and night clubs that each have their own "feel." I think it is important to experience these aspects of Montreal if we want to begin to understand the cultural life emanating from this amazing town. It is much more than just the world's largest officially bi-lingual city and the world's second largest French-speaking culture. 

4.  Where is the student lodging, and what does it include?
    Students are housed at the Royal Victoria College Dormitory (http://www.mcgill.ca/residences/undergraduate/tour/rvc/) on the main campus of McGill University in the heart of downtown Montréal.  Rooms are generally double occupancy. Wifi is available in all of the rooms and in the dormitory lobby.  I recommend bringing your own pillow, a small first aid kit, and a fan (dorms are not air-conditioned, though the main lobby and classroom are).

5.  Is this study abroad course open only to JMU students?
    No. JMU Study Abroad courses are open to anyone: students at other universities and non-students as well.  Participants under the age of 18 are eligible with Coordinator permission.  If you have friends who attend other universities, or even friends who aren't in college, they are welcome to participate in this session; have them contact
Professor Dotas.

6.  Will I be able to practice my instrument somewhere?
Practice rooms with pianos are available at the McGill University Schulich School of Music, which is located right next to the Royal Victoria College dorms. 

7.  What is the summer weather like in Montréal?
Early summer weather in Montréal varies widely—it is not unusual to need a light jacket in the June evenings, and it can be as hot and humid there in July as it is in Virginia.  It rains fairly often, and when it rains, it really rains.  Bring a sturdy umbrella—you’ll need it. 

8.  What is the drinking age in Quebec, and what are the drug laws?
The legal age for consumption of alcohol is 18 in the Province of Quebec.  JMU students enrolled in Study Abroad programs are subject to drinking age laws of the host country, not Virginia statutes or the JMU Honor Code. 
Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in Montréal and is generally not prosecuted, though possession of greater than one ounce is considered intent to sell, which involves much harsher penalties, including incarceration. It is important to realize, however, that the JMU Honor Code does apply to students enrolled in Study Abroad Sessions who are arrested for possession or use of marijuana, and are subject to disciplinary action including expulsion from the university. Possession of “hard” drugs in Quebec is illegal and is prosecuted aggressively.

More about Montréal and its Neighborhoods
Montréal: Literally, “Mont-Réal” (Mount Royal).  Though Montréal is an island surrounded by the St. Lawrence Seaway, the mountain in the center of the island dominates its geography and history (Mount Royal is part of the Laurentian Mountains, the oldest mountain range in North America, and, hence, the most eroded and small. It’s not really a mountain anymore, but is well known for Parc Mont Royal, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same architect who designed Central Park in New York City.

NDG: Notre Dame de Grace (“Our Lady of Grace”). This is a neighborhood in a more English-speaking part of town (where I used to live and where we will visit), near Westmount (ie: “west of the mountain” [Mont Royal]).

Outremont: “The Outer Mountain.” A neighborhood on the north-east side of Mont Royal, neat the Plateau.

Below is a blurb from the New York Times website that describes some of the neighborhoods we’ll visit [additional comments supplied by me are in brackets]:

Montréal is Canada's most romantic metropolis, Québec's largest city, and an important port and financial center. Its office towers are full of young Québecois entrepreneurs ready and eager to take on the world. The city's four universities -- two English and two French -- and a host of junior colleges add to this youthful zest.

Montréal is the only French-speaking metropolis in North America and the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, but it's a tolerant place that over the years has made room for millions of immigrants who speak dozens of languages. Today about 15% of the 3.1 million people who live in the metropolitan area claim English as their mother tongue, and another 15% claim a language that's neither English nor French. The city's gentle acceptance has made it one of the world's most livable cities.

The city's grace, however, has been sorely tested. Since 1976, Montréal has endured the election (twice) of a separatist provincial government, a law banning all languages but French on virtually all public signs and billboards, and four referenda on the future of Québec and Canada.

The latest chapter in this long constitutional drama was the cliff-hanger referendum on Québec independence on October 30, 1995. In that showdown Québecois voters chose to remain part of Canada, but by the thinnest of possible margins. More than 98% of eligible voters participated, and the final province-wide result was 49.42% in favor of independence and 50.58% against. In fact, 60% of the province's Francophones voted in favor of establishing an independent Québec. But Montréal, where most of the province's Anglophones and immigrants live, bucked the separatist trend and voted nearly 70% against independence.

The drama has cooled; since 1998 the separatist government has turned its attention to the economy, and Montréal has prospered accordingly. Indeed, Montréal has emerged stronger and more optimistic.

Montréal is easy to explore. Streets, subways, and bus lines are clearly marked. The city is divided by a grid of streets roughly aligned east-west and north-south. North-south street numbers begin at the St. Lawrence River and increase as you head north; east-west street numbers begin at boulevard St-Laurent, which divides Montréal into east and west halves. [In spite of this, the city’s layout can be disconcerting, because the island does not orient itself on a north-south axis, even though the street grid is laid out as if it were. As a result, “north-south” streets actually run nearly exactly east-west in many spots. Mark Twain called Montréal “the only city in the world where the sun sets in the north.”]

 The city is not so large that seasoned walkers can't see all the districts around the base of Mont-Royal on foot. Nearly everything else is easily accessible by the city's clean and quiet bus and Métro (subway) system. If you're planning to visit a number of museums, look into the city's museum pass (available at museums and Centre Info-Touriste).

 Vieux-Montréal [“Old Montreal”]
Vieux-Montréal is a center of cultural life and municipal government. Most of the summer activities revolve around Place Jacques-Cartier, which becomes a pedestrian mall with street performers and outdoor cafés, and the Vieux-Port, one of the city's most popular recreation spots. This district has museums devoted to history, religion, and the arts. It also has a growing number of boutiques and hotel beds, especially in the quieter, western part of the neighborhood. [Old Montreal, aka “the Old Port” or “Old Town” is the original city, and dates from the 1400’s. The architecture museum in Old Montéeal is fascinating; well-worth a visit. Also, the world-famous Notre Dame Basilica is located here—a tour of the interior is a must.]

On the surface, Montréal's downtown is much like the downtown core of many other major cities. It's full of boutiques, bars, restaurants, strip clubs, amusement arcades, and bookstores. In fact, however, much of the area's activity goes on beneath the surface, in Montréal's Cité Souterrain (Underground City). Development of this unique endeavor began in 1966 when the Métro opened. Now it includes hotels, more than 1,500 offices and 1,600 boutiques, 30 movie theaters, 200 restaurants, three universities, two colleges, two train stations, a skating rink, 40 banks, a bus terminal, an art museum, a complex of concert halls, and a cathedral. All this is linked by Métro lines and more than 30 km (19 mi) of well-lighted, boutique-lined passages. [Rue St Catherine and rue Crescent comprise the west and south boundary to an area of downtown that is very popular with English-speaking tourists, and one of the city’s best jazz clubs, Upstairs, is located near the intersection of these two streets.  Immediately south of rue Ste. Catheriine is the business district, home to Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, an exact, though smaller scale, replica of the Vatican. Quebec’s mixed history is evident on rue Ste. Catherine: cathedrals and burlesque houses sit side-by-side.]

Quartier Latin
Early in the 20th century, rue St-Denis cut through a bourgeois neighborhood of large, comfortable residences. The Université de Montréal was established here in 1893, and the students and academics who moved into the area dubbed it the Quartier Latin, or Latin Quarter. The university eventually moved to a larger campus on the north side of Mont-Royal, and the area went into decline. It revived in the early 1970s, largely as a result of the 1969 opening of the Université du Québec à Montréal. Plateau Mont-Royal, the trendy neighborhood just north of the Quartier Latin, shared in this revival. The Quartier Latin and Plateau Mont-Royal are home to rows of French and ethnic restaurants, charming bistros, coffee shops, designer boutiques, antiques shops, and art galleries. [Rue St. Denis from rue Ste. Catherineis north all the way to rue Mont Royal is a great street for eating, drinking, shopping, and people-watching, and the Plateau District is one of North America’s most famous bohemian neighborhoods.]

Boulevard St-Laurent
Depending on how you look at it, this street divides the city into east and west, or it's where east and west meet. After the first electric tramway was installed on boulevard St-Laurent, working-class families began to move in. In the 1880s the first of many waves of Jewish immigrants escaping pogroms in Eastern Europe arrived. They called the street The Main, as in "Main Street." The Jews were followed by Greeks, other Eastern Europeans, Portuguese, and, most recently, Latin Americans. The 10 blocks north of rue Sherbrooke are filled with delis, junk stores, restaurants and luncheonettes, and clothing stores, as well as fashionable boutiques, bistros, cafés, bars, nightclubs, bookstores, and galleries. The block between rues Roy and Napoléon is particularly rich in delights. [Rue St. Laurent equals rue St. Denis for an afternoon or late evening of eating, shopping, partying, etc.  Spending an afternoon and/or evening walking up St. Laurent and down St. Denis is a must…]

The Chinese first came to Montréal in large numbers after 1880, following the construction of the transcontinental railroad. They settled in an 18-block area between boulevard René-Lévesque and avenue Viger to the north and south, and near rue de Bleury and avenue Hôtel de Ville on the west and east, an area now full of mainly Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants, food stores, and gift shops.

Chalet du Mont-Royal
For a good overview of the city, head for the lookout at the Chalet du Mont-Royal. You can drive most of the way, park, and walk 1/2 km (1/4 mi), or hike all the way up from chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges or avenue des Pins. The views are spectacular on clear days, affording good viewing of all the local sights and more. [This is on Mont-Royal, which provides a fantastic foil to the city.  The eastern entrance to Parc Mont Royal (approached from McGill via avenue des Pins, or Ave. Mont Royal from rue St. Laurent) features a massive hand-drum jam each Sunday around 1:00 pm, complete with a flea market; the air is pungent with the aromas one might expect in circumstances such as this. The actual park has great hiking trails, a small man-made lake, and abundant areas for picnicking and relaxing.]