Serbia National Overview

Updated in November 2016 by Ivana Perkovic, of the University of Arts in Belgrade.

Overview of Higher Music Education System

The system of music education in Serbia is largely based on the system inherited from former Yugoslavia. There are three levels of music education which correspond to the general education: elementary music schools, secondary music schools and faculties or academies. The primary education lasts for 2, 4 or 6 years (depending on the instrument), secondary – 4 years and higher - 4 + 1.  At all levels the entrance exam is necessary.
The majority of music schools are integrated in the state education system, and they are regulated by the various national laws on education and other regulations which are responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia. There is no legal document regulating musical education in its entirety, but various documents precisely define many aspects of music education.
There are more than seventy primary and secondary music schools in Serbia, and five higher music education institutions. Elementary Music Schools are attended in parallel with the primary schools, while Secondary Music Schools may have their own departments for general education or pupils can attend some other secondary school.
Higher music education institutions (schools of music, faculties, academies / universities) enroll students who have completed elementary and secondary music educations. Those students who have not completed primary/secondary education should pass differential exams. Music studies are organized in the two cycles, according to the Bologna Declaration. There are more than 15 bachelor and master study programs, depending on the institution: composition, conducting, solo-singing, strings, winds, piano, guitar, harp, organ, percussion, accordion, chamber music, harpsichord, musicology, ethnomusicology and ethnocoreology, music pedagogy, music theory, jazz and pop, music in media, etc.

Total number of institutions
There are five state academic institutions offering music studies. The only institution dedicated exclusively to higher music education is the oldest: the Faculty of Music in Belgrade – part of the University of Arts in Belgrade.
Other institutions combine music HE with other arts/humanistic disciplines:
  • Academy of Arts in Novi Sad – part of the University of Novi Sad,
  • Faculty of Arts in Priština temporarily settled in Kosovska Mitrovica,
  • Part of the University of Priština temporarily settled in Kosovska Mitrovica,
  • Faculty of Arts in Niš – part of the University of Niš,
  • Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac – part of the University of Kragujevac. 
Total number of music students
ca. 1500
Funding Higher Music Education institutions belong to the public sector of the country. They are government‐funded through the Ministry of Education, Science and the Technological Development.
‘Budget-financed' students have their tuition fees paid by the Ministry, but need to pay administrative and other costs (entrance and application fees, fees for issuing diploma and diploma supplement, etc.). Around 15% of students at the Bachelor level are self-financed. Self-financing students who pass all exams may become budget-funded in the next academic year. All students are considered to be full-time students.
The percentage of “budget financed” students at the MA level is lower, while more than 60% doctoral students are self-financed, but those who are “budget financed” are, in the last couple of years, state-financed up to 20-25%.
The universities have access to the other sources of funding, mostly through projects, but still largely depend on governmental funding.
Curricula
The degree programs are designed and organized by the academic institutions and are verified by the Accreditation and quality assurance commission (Komisija za akreditaciju i proveru kvaliteta) through the accreditation procedures.
Curricula are well-balanced between breadth and depth and BA students earn around 30-40% of credits in major (composition, conducting, music instrument, pedagogy, musicology, ethnomusicology, etc.). For the main subject area in music performance/composition lessons are given one-on-one, other are given in groups or (to a lesser extent) in big classes.
Teaching subjects are grouped in three disciplines: 1) artistic, 2) theoretical-artistic and 3) social and humanitistic. The ratio of disciplines within curricula varies, depending on the type of study program: composition, performance, science, ect. The main objective of all study programs is to acquire adequate theoretical knowledge and develop practical skills for creative artistic or research activities in the field of music. In addition, students acquire the knowledge and competences to deal with the pedagogical work in musical and general education schools, in the various institutions of culture and the media, as well as the possibility to continue education in the higher degree.
Genres
Classical, jazz and popular music.
2-cycle system
The first level studies: basic (bachelor) academic studies, 4 years (240 ECTS).
The second level studies:
  • graduate academic studies – master ("diploma" studies), 1 year: (minimum of 60 ECTS credits after the 1st cycle)
  • specialist academic studies, 1 year - specialist (minimum of 60 ECTS credits after the 2nd cycle).
Qualifications 1st cycle: Bachelor with Honours in Music Performance (diplomirani muzički umetnik/kompozitor; Conducting, Singing, Piano, Violin, Flute, etc. appear on the ‘Diploma Supplement’), Bachelor with Honours in Composition, Bachelor with Honours in Theory of Arts (diplomirani teoretičar umetnosti; Musicology, Ethnomusicology, Music Pedagogy, etc. appear on the ‘Diploma Supplement’)
2nd cycle: Master and Specialist (master muzički umetnik/kompozitor Master in Music Performance, Master in Music Composition, Master in Theory of Arts; Specialist in Music Performance/ Composition/ Music Theory)

Qualification guidelines – “The list of professional, academic and scientific qualifications” - are not satisfactory and should be changed. Specificities of the educational profile are not recognized by the main qualification, they are further defined by the diploma supplement. For example, students obtaining diploma in music theory, musicology, ethnomusicology and ethnocoreology, music pedagogy are all qualified as “theoreticians of arts” and not music.
Entry requirements 1st cycle
Completed secondary music school, admission exam.
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
Bachelor degree and admission exam.
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle 90%
3rd cycle Third cycle studies (180 ECTS) are offered at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade (doctor of humanities PhD and artistic doctorate D. Arts) and recently at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad and Faculty of Philology and Art in Kragujevac. Doctoral studies in humanities are offered for those studying musicology, ethnomusicology, music pedagogy and music theory. Artistic doctoral studies are offered for composers and performers, soloists or chamber music. Both types last three years and include research projects (scientific or artistic research).
Credit point system All institutions make use of the ECTS credit point system.
Internationalization
As one of the partner countries, Serbia can take part in certain, but not all, actions under Erasmus+ programme. International exchanges of students, teachers and staff are conducted through bilateral agreements between programme and partner countries academic institutions (Erasmus+ KA 107 action). The number of exchanges, compared to number of students and teachers, is still very low. Serbian HMEI’s are taking part in various international projects, regarding not only exchange (CEEPUS), but culture and arts (Creative Europe), bilateral cultural exchange, capacity building, etc., and have the proactive policy towards internationalization. 
Quality assurance All higher education institutions in Serbia have to be accredited. The accreditation process started in 2007 by the Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Serbia (Komisija za akreditaciju i proveru kvaliteta) set up by the National council of higher education (Nacionalni savet za visoko obrazovanje) and it is now in its second round. The process of accreditation follows rules and regulations on accreditation standards and procedures of higher education institutions and study programs. As for quality assurance, there are obligatory self-assessment standards and quality evaluations procedures and obligatory external quality control is conducted regularly in each accreditation cycle. Commission for Accreditation is a candidate member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
Serbian higher education institutions can't choose an EQAR-registered agency for their mandatory external quality assurance.
Employability
Depending on the education received, graduates can work as performers, researchers, teachers, in media, etc. There is no existing investigation of the employment rate for graduates from the Serbian HMEI’s, but the Faculty of Music in Belgrade is preparing such analysis in the near future.
Academic Year
The academic year starts on 1 October and ends on 30 September; it is divided into two semesters (terms). Detailed arrangements are laid down by each university separately.
Overview of the Pre-College Music Education System
More than 20000 students are enrolled in the 72 Elementary and Secondary Music Schools in Serbia. Music Schools are situated in all districts of Serbia (geographical balance), but the highest number (14 in total) is located in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. There is also one school for exceptionally gifted children, the School for Music Talents in Ćuprija, where primary and secondary music and general education are integrated. As an integral part of the state education system, primary and secondary music education follow the national curriculum and are free of charge.
Elementary music schools are attended in parallel with the primary schools, while secondary music schools may have their own departments for the general education or pupils can attend some other secondary school. The end of both educational cycles is marked with the final examination and a certificate, which is necessary for the further study levels.
Instrumental teachers organize their teaching as individual lessons, while other subjects (ear training, music theory, etc.) are taught in groups.
A wide variety of musical instruments is offered in pre-college music education: violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, tamboura, harp, piano, accordion, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, English horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussions. Also, there is solo singing, as well as relatively new departments for traditional singing and music performance, and departments for jazz and early music.
There is the program for the visually impaired students, with two obligatory preparatory years and six years of the elementary music education. Almost 90% students enrolled to this program continue their secondary music education.

Types of Pre-College Education

Elementary Music School (Niža muzička škola)
Elementary Music Schools offer music education lasting 2, 4 or 6 years within national curriculum. Entrance exams intended to test candidate’s sense of musicality, tune and rhythm are necessary.
During the six-years lasting educational program following musical instruments are learned to play: violin, violoncello, guitar, tamboura, mandolin, harp, piano, accordion and flute. Students between the age of 6 and 9 may be enrolled.
During the four-years lasting educational program following musical instruments are learned to play: double bass, Renaissance (small) harp, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba and percussion. Students under 11 years may be enrolled.
During the two-years educational program singing is learned. Students older than 14 may be enrolled.
There are three elective departments: for early music (rebec, fiddle, lute, chalumeaux, traverso flute, harpsichord, Renaissance singing, etc.) traditional music (traditional instruments: frula, kaval, gajde, gusle and violin, double bass, accordion, clarinet, singing, etc.) and jazz (double bass, guitar, piano, saxophone, bass guitar, drums, jazz singing, etc.). Students attending the department for classical music may enroll one of the elective departments (depending on the instrument), mostly during two final years of their elementary music education.
The primary music education is organized in two cycles: individual music lessons are ranging from 30 minutes (the first cycle) to 45 minutes (the second cycle). Other subjects, taught in groups include aural training, basics of music theory, and ensemble/orchestra/choir and lessons are lasting 45 minutes.
Some Elementary Music Schools organise preparatory lessons - Music Kindergartens, with an aim of teaching basic musical elements in a clear and accessible way, through listening, singing, playing musical instruments and moving to music.
Secondary Music School (Srednja muzička škola)
After having finished their elementary music education and passing entrance exams - instrument/singing, ear training and others - students are enrolled in four-year Secondary Music Schools. Candidates without completed Primary Music School have to pass the differential exams.
Secondary Music Schools provide teaching to a specific age group (14/15 to 18/19), with two possibilities: to attend general education classes at the same school, or to attend other high school.
In the first case, the curriculum is a combination of general education subjects - such as languages, history, philosophy, psychology - and music studies: instrument, ear training, chamber music, music history, harmony, counterpoint, choir/orchestra, etc. In the second case students gain two diplomas.
Classes are 1) individual, for music instruments; 2) group, between 2 and 15 students for piano accompaniment, chamber music, ear training, harmony, music history, etc. and 3) in large classes (orchestra/choir).
The official curricula for secondary music education envisages seven departments: classical music and music theory as the most common, and ethnomusicology, jazz music, church music, early music and sound design. Schools offer music performer or music associate/assistant degrees (muzički izvođač / muzički saradnik) in specialty areas, but do not offer training at academic level (Bachelor or Master). Most graduates continue their studies at a higher level.
Private Music School
Private Music Schools are relatively new in Serbia and vary in terms of age, curricula, requirements and qualifications. Number of students is small and not many of them continue their studies at a higher level.
Private tuition
There are private teachers, providing mostly amateur training.

Additional Information

All schools have entrance examinations. Higher music education institutions do not have Pre‐college Departments. Recently, Preparatory Courses have been introduced at some HMEI’s, for example at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade. There are no formalised links between pre‐college institutions and the HMEI’s, although there are some Faculty/Academy teachers teaching at Music schools. 

Music and Arts in General Education
Music and fine arts classes are compulsory in the general education, at the primary and at the secondary level. Students aged between 6/7 and 15/16 get music lessons, mostly one class (45 minutes) per a week. In the lower grades of the primary school creative engagement is envisaged through singing, playing musical instruments, improvisation, listening to music, while in the higher grades the focus is on acquiring knowledge on important musical genres, epochs, composers, famous works, traditional music, etc.
There are also school choirs and music ensembles as elective subjects.
Students entering Higher Music Education
Almost all students come from Secondary Music Schools. A certain number of students is coming from abroad (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, etc.)
Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level
The School for Music Talents in Ćuprija, founded within UNESCO Associated School Project, offers ten-year curriculum to exceptionally gifted students. In this school students acquire elementary and secondary education, both general and music. The only department is the string department (violin, viola, cello and double bass). Students between 6 and 8 may be enrolled. The curriculum is being approved by the Ministry of Education and the Faculty of Music in Belgrade and there are no tuition-fees.
There are many competitions, national as well as international. The International Jeunesses Musicales Competition ran by Jeunesses Musicales Belgrade is held annually for more than 40 years and this competition is member of the World Federation of Music Competitions. Another important international competition is the International Competition of Young Musicians “Petar Konjović” ran by Association of Music and Ballet Pedagogues of Serbia, which is a member of the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth.
There are also many national competitions (republička takmičenja) in different areas, including not only musical instruments and ensembles, but also ear training, music theory, music history, choirs and music ensembles from general educational institutions, contemporary composition, etc.
Festivals of musical talents are organized on a regular basis (such as Smotra muzičkih talenata u Sremskim Karlovcima), as well as summer schools (for example schools dedicated to sacred Orthodox music - letnje duhovne škole, Studenica or Sremski Karlovci). One festival KoMA (Koncerti mladih autora / Young authors’ concerts), organized by the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, is a place where young composers, mostly students, can present their compositions.
Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Borislav Pašćan consists of students attending Secondary and High music schools. 

Overview of Music Teacher Education System

Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education

Institutions
Pedagogical training is included in the performance Bachelor and Master studies at all higher music education institutions in Serbia: Faculty of Music in Belgrade, Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Faculty of Arts in Priština, temporarily settled in Kosovska Mitrovica, Faculty of Arts in Niš and Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac. Master degree is necessary for teaching in elementary and secondary education.
Structure and curriculum Bachelor studies take four years (240 ECTS) and Master – one year (60 ECTS). The core and compulsory subjects are the same as for instrumental/vocal studies at higher music education. According to Serbian legislation, future teachers should obtain at least 30 ECTS from psychological, pedagogical and methodological disciplines and 6 ECTS in school practice before gaining their master degree. Students may choose from many elective courses in these disciplines. Only those students who have obtained necessary credits can teach in schools, and university students who plan their pedagogical career, choose from this group of elective courses. 
Genres
Classical, jazz and pop music
Internationalization
The same as for overview of the Higher Music Education.
Employability
Master’s degree is the qualification that is nationally considered as necessary for teaching in state funded schools, as general music teachers and as specialized music teachers. Instrumental/vocal music teachers may work in music schools (elementary, secondary) or in general schools.
Continuing  Once graduated with MA degree, students may enroll one-year specialist studies for 60 ECTS, with the stronger focus on teaching practice. 
Professional development is mandatory activity of teachers, educators and professional associates. It is being managed by the national Institute for the promotion of Education (Zavod za unapređenje obrazovanja i vaspitanja).

Education for Music Teacher in General Education (primary and secondary school)

Institutions
Bachelor and Master studies in music pedagogy have long tradition at all higher music education institutions in Serbia: Faculty of Music in Belgrade, Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Faculty of Arts in Priština, temporarily settled in Kosovska Mitrovica, Faculty of Arts in Niš and Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac. Master degree is necessary for teaching in elementary and secondary education.
Structure and curriculum
Bachelor studies take four years (240 ECTS) and Master takes one year (60 ECTS).
Study program for music pedagogy educates musical professionals with a pronounced pedagogical aspect. Future teachers for music courses in general education and ear training are educated, as well as music theory teachers in state funded music schools.
The curriculum consists of about 15% of the academic and general education, 20% of the theoretical-methodological courses, 35% of the scientific, or artistic-professional and 30% of the specialist courses. In line with the positive tradition of artistic and theoretical education in Europe, about two-thirds of the points that are acquired during the study refers to a group of major items. 
Employability Master’s degree is the qualification that is nationally considered as necessary for teaching in state funded schools, as general music teachers and as specialized music teachers. Music pedagogues may work in music schools (elementary, secondary), as teachers of ear training and music theory or in general schools.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Once graduated with MA degree, students may enroll specialist studies, with the stronger focus on the teaching practice.
Professional development is mandatory activity of teachers, educators and professional associates. It is being managed by the national Institute for the promotion of Education (Zavod za unapređenje obrazovanja i vaspitanja).