In the early 1960’s, visionary Mrs. Alix Goolden (pictured) hosted a tea party with a small group of arts patrons where she communicated her determination to establish a School of Music in Victoria. At the time, Victoria needed a music school to train young musicians to sustain the regional orchestras, which were struggling to attract quality musicians. With the generosity of numerous community members, $30,000 was accumulated to launch the new school.

The first director, Otto-Werner Mueller, was followed by Dr. Robin Wood in 1966. Dr. Robin Wood was hired as principal, and he and his wife, Winifred Scott Wood, left their flourishing pianist careers in London at the Royal Academy of Music to help build the fledgling school.

The school was incorporated on May 13, 1964, as the Victoria School of Music. In 1968, the name changed to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.


Originally located in the old Union Hall on Pandora Street, the Conservatory moved to Craigdarroch Castle in 1968 and then to the former St. Ann’s Academy in 1979.

In 1997, the Conservatory purchased the century-old Metropolitan United Church. After considerable renovation and construction to create classrooms, office space, teaching studios, and performance areas, the Conservatory moved to its new home in 1999.

Enrollment and Faculty

Enrollment at the Victoria Conservatory of Music has increased significantly over the years. Opening our doors in 1964, the first classroom had 8 students and totaled 40 students in the first academic year. We now offer lessons, classes, and Music Therapy services to over 4,500 students and clients every year.

Starting with 12 faculty members, the Victoria Conservatory of Music now has over 130 faculty as well as 20+ staff members.


Today the Victoria Conservatory of Music is home to some of the most accomplished and renowned alumni in the world. Currently almost half of the Victoria Symphony are Conservatory faculty or alumni, and almost half of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra is consistently comprised of our current or past students. Our Program Directors, Artistic Directors, and Department Heads are passionate educators, respected artists, and performers in our community, across Canada, and internationally. Students come from all over the world to learn from these renowned and respected instructors.

We deliver our high-quality music programs through community outreach to over 1000 children annually, ranging from infants and toddlers in 37 Greater Victoria locations, to children in local Elementary, Middle, and High schools. Our community programs are the core of the Conservatory – providing music instruction to 4,500 students of all ages and abilities. Our Department of Postsecondary Studies offers programs for students who want to pursue a professional career in music. These include in partnership with Camosun College, a full-time two-year diploma in Music Performance, and an 18-month Certificate in Music Technologies; and through our own accreditation with the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training, Education Quality Assurance, and Immigration Canada’s International Student Program, two one-year certificates in Music Pedagogy and Advanced Pedagogy. Our Summer Intensive Programs offers comprehensive programs, workshops, and classes for Classical voice, piano, strings, winds, theory, and music technology. Our Young Artists Collegium Program is for gifted young musicians who want to study music at the highest standard in a comprehensive environment with the feel of a close-knit community.

For a more comprehensive history, please pick up a copy of the following books from our Downtown school Front Desk.

  • Victoria Conservatory of Music, Forty Years in Four Movements. The history of the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s first forty years. By Joan Gorst Giles. (Also available on Amazon)
  • Encore, the continuing story of the Victoria Conservatory of Music. By Joan Gorst Giles.