Music school

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Graduates of the Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg Conservatory include Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, and George Balanchine. Saint Petersburg Conservatory.jpg
Graduates of the Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg Conservatory include Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, and George Balanchine.

A music school is an educational institution specialized in the study, training, and research of music. Such an institution can also be known as a school of music, music academy, music faculty, college of music, music department (of a larger institution), conservatory, conservatorium or conservatoire. Instruction consists of training in the performance of musical instruments, singing, musical composition, conducting, musicianship, as well as academic and research fields such as musicology, music history and music theory.


Music instruction can be provided within the compulsory general education system, or within specialized children's music schools such as the Purcell School. Elementary-school children can access music instruction also in after-school institutions such as music academies or music schools. In Venezuela El Sistema of youth orchestras provides free after-school instrumental instruction through music schools called núcleos. The term "music school" can also be applied to institutions of higher education under names such as school of music, such as the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester; music academy, like the Sibelius Academy or the Royal Academy of Music, London; music faculty as the Don Wright Faculty of Music of the University of Western Ontario; college of music, characterized by the Royal College of Music and the Berklee College of Music; music department, like the Department of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz; or the term conservatory, exemplified by the Conservatoire de Paris and the New England Conservatory. In other parts of Europe, the equivalents of higher school of music or university of music may be used, such as the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Cologne University of Music).


Based around the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Notre Dame School was an important centre of polyphonic music NotreDameDeParis.jpg
Based around the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Notre Dame School was an important centre of polyphonic music

Although music and music education may have been in existence for thousands of years, the earliest history is speculative. [1] Even when history starts to be recorded, music is mentioned more frequently than music education. Within the biblical tradition, Hebrew litany was accompanied with rich music, but the Torah or Pentateuch was silent on the practice and instruction of music in the early life of Israel. However, by I Samuel 10, Alfred Sendrey suggests that we find "a sudden and unexplained upsurge of large choirs and orchestras, consisting of thoroughly organized and trained musical groups, which would be virtually inconceivable without lengthy, methodical preparation". This has led some scholars to believe that the prophet Samuel was the patriarch of a school which taught not only prophets and holy men, but also sacred-rite musicians. [2]

The schola cantorum (papal choir) in Rome may be the first recorded music school in history, when Gregory the Great (540–604) made permanent an existing guild dating from the 4th century (schola originally referred more to a guild rather than school). The school consisted of monks, secular clergy, and boys. [3] Wells Cathedral School, England founded as a Cathedral School in 909 a.d. to educate choristers, continues today to educate choristers and teaches instrumentalists. However the school appears to have been refounded at least once. [4]

Saint Martial school, 10th to 12th century, was an important school of composition at the Abbey of Saint Martial, Limoges. It is known for the composition of tropes, sequences, and early organum. In this respect, it was an important precursor to the Notre Dame School. [5] It was the Notre Dame school (late 12th and early 13th century) which was the earliest repertory of polyphonic (multipart) music to gain international prestige and circulation. The school was a group of composers and singers working under the patronage of the great Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. [6] First records on Escolania de Montserrat, boys' choir linked to a music school, back to 1307 and still continues the musical education.


The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (National Academy of St Cecilia) is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, based in Italy. It is based at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, and was founded by the papal bull, Ratione congruit, issued by Sixtus V in 1585, which invoked two saints prominent in Western musical history: Gregory the Great, for whom the Gregorian chant is named, and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. It was founded as a "congregation" or "confraternity" – a religious guild, so to speak – and over the centuries, has grown from a forum for local musicians and composers to an internationally acclaimed academy active in music scholarship (with 100 prominent music scholars forming the body of the Accademia) to music education (in its role as a conservatory) to performance (with an active choir and symphony orchestra).

The term conservatory has its origin in 16th-century Renaissance Italy, where orphanages ( conservatori ) were attached to hospitals. The orphans (conservati 'saved') were given a musical education there, and the term gradually applied to music schools. [7] [8] These hospitals-conservatories were among the first secular institutions equipped for practical training in music. By the 18th century, Italian conservatories were already playing a major role in the training of artists and composers. [9]

16th-18th centuries

In the city of Naples, a conservatorio was strictly a secular place for teaching and learning specializing in music education. There were already four conservatories in Naples active in the 16th and 18th century:

It is in these very institutions that the so-called Scuola Musicale Napoletana was developed, thanks to the work of musicians and educators like Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725) and Francesco Durante (1684–1755), who was also Pergolesi's and Paisiello's teacher.

18th-19th centuries

It was the example set in Naples, where admission was by competitive examination and tuition was free, that was then copied, with modifications, in many European cities, including Paris (1795), Bologna (1804), Milan (1807), Florence and Prague (1811), Warsaw and Vienna (1821), London (1822), the Hague (1826), Liege (1827); a bit later two conservatories was founded in Russia by Rubinstein brothers – Anton in Saint Petersburg (1862) and Nikolai in Moscow (1866). The second half of the 19th century saw the network expanding to the Americas, Rio de Janeiro (1847), Boston (1853), Baltimore and Chicago (1868), Havana (1885), and Buenos Aires (1893). Establishments for advanced training in music were organized in the 1940s in several Asian and African countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, and Kenya. [9]

To this extent, projects like El Sistema are more in line with the tradition set in Italy (where tuition at conservatories remains still free) than in an English-speaking country, where students have a very selective access to bursaries (see the Royal Academy of Music or the Royal College of Music in the UK).

Primary and secondary education

Specialist music schools

Musikgymnasium Schloss Belvedere is a specialist music school in Germany Musikgymnasium Schloss Belvedere (Hauptansicht).jpg
Musikgymnasium Schloss Belvedere is a specialist music school in Germany

Specialist music schools exist in many countries and whose purpose is to identify, and assist, children with exceptional potential, to benefit from world-class specialist training as part of a broad and balanced education, which will enable them, if they choose, to proceed towards self-sustaining careers in music. [11] These schools may be formally [12] or informally attached to a conservatory. Entry is typically between the ages of ages 8 and 18 and admission is through competitive audition. Schools may be public or independent; where schools are independent, pupils may be in receipt of governmental [13] or private scholarships. Typically as students progress through the school the time spent on music increases and on academic subjects decrease. These schools usually teach only instrumentalists but may also include choristers.

Some schools (like conservatories) are broader and may cover the performing arts: music, drama, dance. [14]

Music schools within schools

Many music schools are located within existing schools. The pattern is quite diverse and may include:

Specialist music units in Scotland, where students are drawn from an area wider than the host schools catchment. Students will receive specialist music tuition within the music school but are fully integrated within the host school for other lessons. Entry to the specialist music unit or school is by competitive audition, which also effectively gives entry to the host school. [15]

Many public or independent schools contain music departments, some of which achieve high standards. These are sometimes referred to as Music schools. Music Colleges in England are schools that get additional private and governmental money to specialise in music. Entry is to the host school and musical ability is not an admission requirement. [16] Schools which perform highly may specialise in an additional area for example sports or technology.

300 children attend the Royal College of Music's Junior Department Royal College of Music - April 2007.jpg
300 children attend the Royal College of Music's Junior Department

Music schools also frequently operate from church facilities. [17]

Pre-college divisions

Many conservatories or other tertiary-level institutions have pre-college divisions or junior departments for children of school age. [18] Typically the curriculum includes individual lesson(s), orchestra, chamber music, theory, musicianship, composition and music technology. Classes are usually held on a Saturday and children attend normal schools during the week.

Music schools outside the general education system

Non-governmental [19] or private [20] schools of music offer music education outside the general education system for students aged 4 to 20+ years. In general, students attend these schools weekend or evening. These schools are typically provided by individuals, charitable or commercial organizations.

Tertiary education


Jacobs School of Music, part of Indiana University, has more than 1,600 students JacobsSchoolofMusic.jpg
Jacobs School of Music, part of Indiana University, has more than 1,600 students

A conservatory of music may also be known in English as conservatoire (chiefly in the UK [21] ), conservatorium (in Australia [22] [23] ), academy or college. Some schools or conservatories are exclusively focused on music. [24] Others have a wider focus, for example covering music, drama and dance. [25] Conservatories are suitable for students who wish to develop their performance, conducting, or composition to a professional standard. Typically, they offer a high percentage of practical training combined with academic study and professional development for those considering a career in the creative arts. Individual teaching is the strength of most components.

Students have the opportunity to perform, conduct or have their music played on a regular basis, both informally and in public. This may be solo or as part of an orchestra, ensemble or band. Typically, conservatories focus on Western classical music. However, some schools focus on traditional instruments, such as Chinese instruments. [26] Others may have departments for traditional music which includes both traditional and classical instruments, for example bagpipes alongside the fiddle. [27] Alternatively, students can focus on jazz, world music or pop music. [28]

The time required to complete music degrees is generally not much different from degrees in other fields, i.e. 3–4 years for a Bachelor of Music degree, 1–2 years for a Master of Music degree, and 3–5 years for a Doctor of Musical Arts or Doctor of Music Degree. A PhD degree can be gained for areas such as musicology, music theory, music composition, music education, or music therapy. Some schools may offer a non-academic degree that is solely performance based, such as the (United States) A.D. or Artist Diploma; this may be offered at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.

University schools of music

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music shares its campus with Oberlin College. The Kohl Building.jpeg
The Oberlin Conservatory of Music shares its campus with Oberlin College.
Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Sibelius-akatemia.jpg
Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.

University music departments originally placed more emphasis on academic study of music, rather than performance. However, today, the division may not be so rigid, with many often placing greater emphasis on performance now than they did in the past. The specific balance of vocational training and academic study varies from one institution to another, and from one country to another. Some countries separately define their institutions between university status and vocational university status, whilst other countries do not define such a rigid division. In addition to offering degrees similar to those offered at conservatories, some universities offer non-professional music-related degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts in Music or a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. A number of previously independent conservatories have become affiliated to universities [29]

See also

Country-specific pages:


National and international organisations:


Related Research Articles

Royal College of Music College in Kensington and Chelsea, UK

The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire established by royal charter in 1882, located in South Kensington, London, UK. It offers training from the undergraduate to the doctoral level in all aspects of Western Music including performance, composition, conducting, music theory and history. The RCM also undertakes research, with particular strengths in performance practice and performance science. The college is one of the four conservatories of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and a member of Conservatoires UK. Its buildings are directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall on Prince Consort Road, next to Imperial College and among the museums and cultural centres of Albertopolis.

Royal Conservatory of The Hague

The Royal Conservatoire is a conservatoire in The Hague, providing higher education in music and dance. The conservatoire was founded by King William I in 1826, making it the oldest conservatoire in the Netherlands.

Doctor of Musical Arts

The Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) is a doctoral academic degree in music. The DMA combines advanced studies in an applied area of specialization with graduate-level academic study in subjects such as music history, music theory, or music pedagogy. The DMA degree usually takes about three to four years of full-time study to complete, preparing students to be professional performers, conductors, and composers. As a terminal degree, the DMA qualifies its recipient to work in university, college, and conservatory teaching/research positions. Students seeking doctoral training in musicology or music theory typically enter a Ph.D. program, rather than a DMA program.

Conservatoire de Paris Music and dance school in Paris, France

The Conservatoire de Paris, also known as the Paris Conservatory, is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Officially known as the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Conservatoire offers instruction in music and dance, drawing on the traditions of the "French School". Formerly the conservatory also included drama, but in 1946 that division was moved into a separate school, the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD), for acting, theatre and drama. Today the conservatories operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and are associate members of PSL Research University. The CNSMDP is also associated with the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon (CNSMDL).

Master of Music First graduate degree in Music awarded by universities and music conservatories

The Master of Music is, as an academic title, the first graduate degree in Music awarded by universities and conservatories. The M.M. combines advanced studies in an applied area of specialization with graduate-level academic study in subjects such as music history, music theory, or music pedagogy. The degree, which takes one or two years of full-time study to complete, prepares students to be professional performers, conductors, and composers, according to their area of specialization. The M.M. is often required as the minimum teaching credential for university, college, and conservatory instrumental or vocal teaching positions.

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Boston Conservatory at Berklee is a performing arts conservatory associated with the Berklee College of Music and located in Boston, Massachusetts. It grants undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, dance and theater.

Maastricht Academy of Music

The Maastricht Academy of Music, Dutch: Conservatorium Maastricht, located in the city of Maastricht, is one of nine music academies in the Netherlands. The academy is a faculty of the Zuyd University of Applied Sciences for the Bachelor programme and the "Zuid Nederlandse Hogeschool voor Muziek" for the Master programme, in co-operation with the Fontys Academy of Music and Performing Arts. The academy provides advanced vocational training.

Elder Conservatorium of Music

The Elder Conservatorium of Music, also known as "The Con", is Australia's senior academy of music and is located in the centre of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. It is named in honour of its benefactor, Sir Thomas Elder. Dating in its earliest form from 1883, it has a history in professional training for musical performance, musical composition, research in all fields of music, and music education. The Elder Conservatorium of Music and its forerunners have been parts of the University of Adelaide since the early 1880s.

Royal Conservatory of Brussels

Starting its activities in 1813, the Royal Conservatory of Brussels received its official name in 1832. Providing performing music and drama courses, the institution became renowned partly because of the international reputation of its successive directors such as François-Joseph Fétis, François-Auguste Gevaert, Edgar Tinel, Joseph Jongen or Marcel Poot, but more because it has been attended by many of the top musicians, actors and artists in Belgium such as Arthur Grumiaux, José Van Dam, Sigiswald Kuijken, Josse De Pauw, Luk van Mello and Luk De Konink. Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, also studied at the Brussels Conservatory.

The Schulich School of Music is one of the constituent faculties of McGill University in Montréal, Canada. The faculty was named after benefactor Seymour Schulich.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance is a music and dance conservatoire based in London, England. It was formed in 2005 as a merger of two older institutions – Trinity College of Music and Laban Dance Centre. Today the conservatoire has 1,195 undergraduate and postgraduate students based at three campuses in Greenwich (Trinity), Deptford and New Cross (Laban).

The University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music offers students an integrated music education based on best international contemporary arts practice.

Music schools in Scotland Overview of music schools in Scotland

Music schools in Scotland are available at several levels. Formal music education begins at 4½ years and can progress as high as postgraduate studies. Education in Scotland is a responsibility of the Scottish Government. Music is regarded as being an integral part of the culture of Scotland.

Academy of Music, University of Zagreb

The Academy of Music is a Croatian music school based in Zagreb. It is one of the three art academies affiliated with the University of Zagreb, along with the Academy of Dramatic Art and the Academy of Fine Arts.

Codarts School in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Codarts University for the Arts is a Dutch vocational university in Rotterdam that teaches music, dance and circus. It was established in its present location in 2000.

Robert John Shafer, Jr. is a Grammy Award-winning American conductor, classical composer, educator and church musician. He has served as artistic director of the City Choir of Washington since its launch in September 2007.

Geneva University of Music Music institution in Geneva, Switzerland

The Geneva Haute école de musique is a higher music education institution in Geneva, Switzerland.

Kharkiv National Kotlyarevsky University of Arts

Kharkiv National University of Arts named after I. P. Kotlyarevsky is the leading music and drama institution of higher education in Ukraine. The university trains about 900 undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates in music and theatre art. It enjoys Level IV accreditation, which is the highest under Ukraine's national standards, and is licensed to train foreign students.

Music Schools Group in Bydgoszcz School in Poland

The Arthur Rubinstein Music Schools Group is an association of music schools of primary and secondary education which seat is located in the building at Szwalbego Street 1 in Bydgoszcz.


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