Denmark National Overview

Updated (in progress) in June 2018 by Keld Hosbond, Vice Principal and Head of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Music Aarhus.

Overview of Higher Music Education System

The present system of professional music training in Denmark has existed since 2004, when the old system of a Music teacher degree (4 years of study) and Diploma degree (1 year of study) was replaced with the 3-cycle system in accordance with the Bologna Declaration.
The educational system is comparable to the general higher education system with one exception: contrary to the universities, the music academies are not yet able to offer a third cycle (PhD) by themselves. Only in cooperation with a university (who formally will be the responsible partner) will music academies be allowed to offer such an education. The only formal postgraduate degree that can be offered by an academy of music is by the advanced postgraduate diploma.
It has been an important goal for the government, when implementing the new system, to make a better coherence in the educational system nationally and internationally. Most recently it has been a major concern for the musical training in Denmark to strengthen the pedagogical elements in the study programmes.
In order to strengthen the connection between education and labour market, all music academies have an advisory board.

Total number of institutions
There are four conservatories for professional music training in Denmark.
Total number of music students
1.200 full degree students and a number of professional master and diploma students.
The Conservatories are funded by the State, through the Ministry of Culture.
The curricula for professional music programmes are controlled by the State.
Genres Classical, jazz/pop/global, electronic, traditional/folk, church music, music business, sound production and engineering.
3-cycle system
1st cycle: Bachelor (3 years)
2nd cycle: Master (2 years)
3rd cycle: PhD (3 years) only in collaboration with Universities
NB Advanced postgraduate diploma (2 years after completion of Master Degree) is not part of the Cycle system.
A degree from a Danish conservatoire qualifies for employment/job in music schools, orchestras, churches and music scene in general
Entry requirements 1st cycle
Entrance examination
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
Entrance examination and a relevant bachelor degree - normally from a conservatoire, but based on a specific assessment, other artistic based Bachelor study programmes in music may also be recognized as qualifying for admission.
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle approximately 80%
3rd cycle
A PhD can be obtained in collaboration with a university.
Credit point system
The ECTS credit-point system is used in the study programmes.
All programmes are open for exchanges based on the ECTS system.
Quality assurance
All Bachelor and Master programmes are accredited by the Danish National Accreditation institution. Next accreditation is expected in 2018 and will be an institutional accreditation.
According to an investigation of the labour market for graduates from the Danish academies of music, completed in 2015, the unemployment rate is about 6-7%.
Academic Year
End of August – end of June, 2 semesters.
Overview of the Pre-College Music Education System
There are several possibilities in Denmark to be musically trained prior to entering higher education.

Types of Pre-College Education

Music School
There are about 100 Music Schools organised by municipalities spread all over the country. These schools provide music education to students between 0 and 25 years of age.
There is no national curriculum for music education, but a set of guidelines has been published by the National Music Council.
Music Schools offer instrumental/vocal lesson as well as theory classes and ensemble playing/choir. Almost all Music Schools have orchestras. Music Schools provide amateur training but may prepare some students for the entrance examinations of higher music education as well. Many students will go to the Musikalsk Grundkursus (see text below) first before applying to higher music education institutes.
Music Schools have a broad offer of both musical styles (jazz, pop, electronic, songwriting, classical music) as well as instruments. Students pay a tuition fee. 
Private Music School
There are Private Music Schools; they provide the same type of education as Music Schools run by municipalities. Private Music Schools receive funding by municipalities as well. The main difference between Private Music Schools and municipal Music Schools lies in the organisational structure. 
Music as a subject in Primary School
In Denmark, Primary Schools provide general education to students between 6 and 15 years of age. Music lessons are an obligatory part of the curriculum until the 6th or 7th grade (different per school).
There are private Primary Schools that have a Music School in the same building. Some of them provide dedicated music education. 
Music Gymnasium
There are several secondary schools (Gymnasia) in Denmark that offer general education with a specialisation in music education. Gymnasia cater for students between 15/16 and 18/19 years of age. They offer class lessons in musical subjects. Students take instrumental/vocal lessons at Music Schools, or study with private teachers. Some Gymnasia work closely together with Music Schools that offer the Musikalsk Grundkursus (MGK) as described below.
One special school, the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium in Copenhagen, provides high-level music education focusing on vocal studies in combination with general education. Students are recruited around the second grade of primary school. The Sankt Annæ Gymnasium provides primary and secondary (Gymnasium) education. Although the school focuses on singing - it has many choirs – students can receive instrumental training as well. The school has many bands and orchestras. The school also offers the MGK. 
Preparatory course (Musikalsk Grundkursus [MGK])
Young talented students interested in music can apply for admission to the preparatory course for conservatories, Musikalsk Grundkursus (MGK). The MGK is a three- or four-year course provided by seven centres run by Music Schools, which prepares students for admission to higher music education institutes. Students aged 14-25 may apply for admission to the MGK. MGK provides training in classical, pop and rock music, jazz, folk music, composition, conducting and theory subjects as well.
For most students, MGK is a 3 year program. However some Music Schools provide the MGK in cooperation with (Music) Gymnasia, in which case the MGK can be a 4 year programme.
Schools that provide the MGK work closely together with conservatoires. Often, conservatoire teachers teach at the MGK.
The MGK is state funded; students do not pay tuition fee.
Elementary music education within higher music education institutions
Students from higher music education institutions who take pedagogy classes as part of their curriculum are required to gain practical experience in teaching. They can do so by teaching young talented children within the conservatoire. These lessons are quite popular and of a high level. 
Private tuition Besides the institutional settings, many teachers teach privately.

Additional Information

Higher music education institutions do not have Junior Departments or Preparatory Courses.
The Danish MGK has a double focus. On one side preparing students for higher music education at the same time aiming at producing “experience amateurs”. There is no distinction between the two categories in the daily teaching. The students will not have to indicate what they are aiming at.

Music and Arts in General Education
Music is a compulsory subject in Primary School education from first to sixth grade (app 7 years old to 12 years old). They are supposed to have 2 lessons per week.
Students entering Higher Music Education
Most students come from the MGK. Some students come from Talent Classes within Music Schools. The rest come from outside the public music education system.
Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level
There are competitions open to young talented students. There are some grants available to support talent; for instance, the state gives out grants for students who are not able to pay for Talent Classes within Music Schools.
Very talented students who study within the MGK can receive lessons from conservatoire teachers. Music School students can go to Talent Classes within Music Schools.
The association Musik og Ungdom (Music and Youth) is the Danish branch of the international organisation Jeunesses Musicales. Its members are drawn from music students and music academy students and its activities are both locally and internationally based. Musik og Ungdom is also one of the organisations behind the prestigious Orkester Norden, which is made up of young musicians aged 15-25.

Overview of Music Teacher Education System

The Danish system of higher education in music is divided between three ministries – the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and the Ministry of Education. Currently, the government sets the targets and frameworks and leaves the content (study programmes, courses etc.) of the educational programmes to be decided by the institutions. The three ministries set up different directives for respectively the conservatories, the universities and the University Colleges. It is characteristic for Denmark that the music teacher training system, aimed at voluntary music education, gymnasium and primary school, is still separated. The music conservatoires are showing an increasing interest in the music pedagogy, also as theory and research area. 

Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education

The Danish music teacher education takes place in the following type of institutions in conservatories (4 institutions, 1 with non-classical focus).
The conservatories are present in the major cities of Denmark: Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus, Aalborg and Esbjerg.
Structure and Curriculum
Each kind of institution has its own characteristics and cultures regarding subject and subject-pedagogical profile. This distinction comes from each specific target area but also out of tradition.
  • 1st cycle: 3 years (Bachelor in Music)
  • 2nd cycle: 2 years (leading to a Candidatus Musicale (Master of Music))
  • 3rd cycle: 3 years (PhD, only available in some conservatoires)
Teachers education programmes are offered in both first and second cycles. Traditionally, the primary goal of conservatoires is training musicians. These institutions have always mainly been involved with subject related training in the field of musical practice, and teacher education was introduced relatively late. Nowadays the Danish conservatories educate musicians, singers, music teachers, church musicians, music managers, sound technicians, composers, song writers, and recording directors in a broad range of subjects, specialties and genres.
Teacher education students in the conservatoires will have external practical training as well as internal practical training.
To enter the Bachelor programme students have to pass an admission test. For the Master a Bachelor Degree and an admission test are required.
Classical, jazz/pop/global, electronic, traditional/folk, church music, music business, sound production and engineering.
All programmes are open for exchanges based on the ECTS system.
Employability The students from Conservatoires who become music teachers, are able to teach mainly in the private sector, in music schools, continuation schools following elementary school, Folk High Schools and occasionally in gymnasia.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Additional training is also available at the Danish University of Education. Some conservatoires offer vocational Master programmes, as well as CPD courses in specific areas.

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

Education for music teachers in general education occurs at Danish universities, teacher education colleges and Danish Universities of Education.
  • Musicology Departments within Universities (3 institutions)
  • University Colleges (UC) (7 institutions)
  • Danish University of Education (DPU at Aarhus University)
The universities are present in the major cities of Denmark: Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus, Aalborg and Esbjerg
Structure and Curriculum
Universities, Musicology Departments
  • 1st cycle: 3 years (Bachelor)
  • 2nd cycle: 2 years (leading to a Candidatus Magisterii (Master of Arts)) 
  • 3rd cycle: 3 years (PhD)
The Master of Musicology (five years of study) has to include 1,5 year of a secondary subject according to the university declaration. The teacher education programmes at the university are rarely referred to as ‘music teacher education’ although the majority of university graduates will be teachers in gymnasia or otherwise involved in education. Only in combination with the additional professional postgraduate teacher education does one acquire the necessary competencies to teach in a gymnasium. This also takes place in the universities, and includes a large amount of practical teaching experience.
The university education is mostly directed at music as a subject, only the study profile is different than the pedagogical education at conservatoires. Universities put more emphasis on musicological issues, and the education has a more academic character. This is also reflected in the manner in which pedagogical issues are addressed. Some students choose music pedagogical matters for their thesis. On the practical side, the universities provide training in practical subjects as piano, vocal training, ensemble, choir etc. Students at universities do not necessarily make practical experience in education part of the study programme for musicians/music teachers. To enter the Musicology programme a Baccalaureade (gymnasium degree) and an admission test are required.

Teacher Education Colleges          
  • 4 years, leading to a Bachelor of Profession (equivalent to a university bachelor)
The teacher education at university colleges is explicitly pedagogically oriented. Students can choose between several subjects and will graduate with two or three main subjects (here it is possible to choose music as one of them). The education is aimed at primary school (age 6 to 15), and is very focused on the pedagogical aspect in both aim and content. Students of teacher education colleges will have a large amount of education in the general school system. The only entrance requirement is a Baccalaureade (gymnasium degree).

Danish University               
Leading to a Candidatus Pædagogic (equivalent to Master). A PhD is of Education, DPU, Aarhus University) also available at this institution.
From 2007 on the DPU is part of the University of Aarhus. Traditionally it has been the higher level of the pedagogical academies, and includes both continuing education and research. To be admitted a Bachelor of Profession (Teachers Education) is required or, alternatively, a Bachelor from a Conservatoire integrated by supplementary modules.
The majority of the University graduates will become teachers in the gymnasia, university, folk schools or otherwise involved in education. Normally graduates from the universities mainly do classroom teaching, but in some cases they can do the instrument teaching also. To become a teacher at the gymnasia the student will have to combine his/her Master with an additional professional postgraduate teacher education, which since 2009 has the duration of one year. This takes place in the universities, and includes a large amount of practical teaching experience.
In teachers education colleges the education is aimed at primary school (age 6 to 15). Also the education offered by the Danish University of Education is mainly aimed at the general education sector.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Teacher education colleges offer in-service training in the new combined institution (CVU, centres of further education and training, born from the merger of more training institutions in larger units). Additional training is also available at the Danish University of Education. Some conservatoires offer vocational Master programmes as well as CPD courses in specific areas.