“Professor Comeau’s work has allowed piano pedagogy to become established as a scholarly discipline, by exploring it from an original, multidisciplinary perspective,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research and innovation. “The University of Ottawa is proud of this distinction, which recognizes his rigorous approach, questioning numerous widespread beliefs in the musical community.”
A pioneer in many regards, Comeau was the first music researcher to receive a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, to establish the , a one-of-a-kind technological facility he has led since 2004. He is also the founding director of the and, since September, of the , at uOttawa. The latter is exploring the effects of music on the health and well-being of individuals and communities, from an inclusion and social justice perspective.
Comeau has been a trailblazer in the use of technology to better understand the basis of learning the piano, such as capturing children’s eye movement to understand how we learn to read music. He is particularly interested in piano practice-related injuries, performance anxiety and transfer of motor skills from music to surgery. Working with experts in areas such as medicine, kinesiology, rehabilitation, engineering and biomedicine, he has helped develop rehabilitation programs for musicians.
These initiatives and many others have earned him international recognition in his field and national honours, including election to the Royal Society of Canada.
The ACFAS Jacques Rousseau (1905–1970) award for multidisciplinarity was created in 1980 in honour of the eponymous Quebec botanist and ethnologist. Comeau is the second University of Ottawa recipient, after the late professor Gilles Paquet, who was honoured in 1982.