Germany National Overview

Updated in April 2017 by Robert Ehrich, President of the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin and member of the Executive Board of the Rektorenkonferenz der deutschen Musikhochschulen (Rector's Conference of German Music Academies).

Overview of Higher Music Education System

The main providers of professional music training in Germany are the 24 Staatliche Musikhochschulen. These are autonomous public institutions with university status. They are financed and supervised by the Bundesland (federal state) in which they are located. Because each individual federal state has sovereign responsibility (Länderhoheit) for education, there are substantial differences in education law and practice within Germany as a whole. All Musikhochschulen, however, offer modularized Bachelor and Masters study programmes in full conformity to the Bologna system. Entry into professional music training is regulated through entrance exams, which normally take place after secondary education has been completed. Some Musikhochschulen, however, offer exceptionally talented young musicians the possibility of entering pre-college training during their secondary education. Tuition fees at the Staatliche Musikhochschulen are regulated by the laws of the individual federal states; at the time of writing generally no tuition fees are charged for a student’s first Bachelor or Master degree course. The imposition of tuition fees for non EU-nationals has been discussed in several federal states, and has permitted in Saxony since 2010. Professional Music training in Germany is arranged in different streams, by which the student has the possibility to choose to study for instrument pedagogue, performing artist or music teacher in secondary education. The Bachelor lasts 4 years, the Master 2 years. Only a few Musikhochschulen offer an artistic third cycle programme (by 2010), but the number is growing.

The long tradition and high international reputation of the German Musikhochschulen for artistic and academic excellence makes them very attractive to students from abroad. Most institutions therefore have a substantial proportion of foreign students.

In addition to the autonomous Musikhochschulen many universities offer degrees in musicology and/or practical music in subsidiary departments; there are also special colleges of Church music and private academies. Responsibility for training music teachers for primary and secondary schools is shared between the Musikhochschulen and the Universities according to the law of the respective federal state.

Total number of institutions
In Germany there are 24 Musikhochschulen and nine Hochschulen für Kirchenmusik (church music). There are also private conservatoires and other Hochschulen, some of which offer degrees in practical music, musicology, or other music-related subjects.
Total number of music students
Approximately 22.000. 
Funding
The 24 Staatliche Musikhochschulen and the majority of German Universities are publicly funded. 
Curricula
The curriculum at the 24 German Staatliche Musikhochschulen and at Universities is regulated by the laws of the respective federal states. Most states require the independent accreditation of degree courses.
Genres
Each Institution has its own distinct artistic and pedagogical profile, with differing degrees of concentration on performance, pedagogy or school teacher training in the core genres of Western classical and popular music. Many Hochschulen also offer degree courses or specific modules for Early Music, Contemporary Music, World Music, Intercultural Studies, Music and Gender etc. 
2-cycle system
The Musikhochschulen offer modularized Bachelor and Masters study programmes in conformity to the Bologna system.
3rd cycle system The Musikhochschulen offer artistic 3rd cycle programmes (called Aufbaustudium, Konzertexamen or Meisterklasse according to the law of the respective federal state); many Universities and some Musikhochschulen offer PhD programmes in Musicology. Some Musikhochschulen have introduced 3rd cycle programmes combining artistic studies with elements of musicological and/or artistic research, comparable to a DMUS in the USA.
 
Qualifications No information available
Entry requirements 1st cycle
No information available
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
No information available
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle No information available
3rd cycle
No information available
Credit point system
The ECTS system is nationally implemented.
Internationalization
Most German Musikhochschulen are active participants in the ERASMUS exchange programme and maintain bilateral ties to foreign institutions within and beyond the EU. 
Quality assurance
Most, but not all, German states require the independent accreditation of degree courses. The national Accreditation Council (Akkreditierungsrat) licenses accreditation agencies, which in turn carry out the actual procedures at the institutions. Depending on the law of the respective federal state, accreditation may relate to individual study programmes or be of a systematic nature for the institution concerned. The accreditation process includes self-evaluation, extensive written reports and inspection visits by external experts on a peer-group basis.

Foreign quality assurance agencies can be recognised by the German Accreditation Council after having demonstrated that they satisfy the requirements of the national framework. 
Employability
Many graduates in the classical orchestral and vocal disciplines find work in German orchestras, opera houses, churches or music schools. Despite a decline in the number of full-time jobs available in recent years, these institutions remain important potential employers. Opportunities for freelance work in Germany are as precarious as in other Western countries, although self-employed musicians registered with the Artists’ Social Fund (Künstlersozialkasse) enjoy certain subsidized health and pension benefits.
Academic Year
The academic year is divided into 2 semesters, the exact dates of which vary from state to state and in some cases from year to year.

The Winter Semester usually begins in October and ends in February; the Summer Semester generally begins in April and ends in July.
Overview of the Pre-College Music Education System
 

Types of Pre-College Education

Music School (Musikschule)
Germany’s many public music schools provide music education to students of all ages and levels of achievement. They are not part of the of the general education system. Most receive substantial public funding at city or state level.
As each federal State (Bundesland) has its own education laws and regulations, there are significant regional differences in the curriculum offered and the fees charged. Instrumental/vocal lessons may be individual or in groups. The provision of subjects such as music theory, aural training or general musicianship varies widely. Most music schools offer their students the opportunity to join an ensemble, band, choir or orchestra.
Private Music School
Private music schools are independent institutions providing music education outside the general education system. They generally do not receive public funding.
Conservatoire
The term Konservatorium can refer to a number of different types of institution. Some are essentially music schools (see above); some offer professional training in music performance and teaching; others combine both activities. Some Konservatorien may restrict the age group they serve (e.g. 17-25).
Music Gymnasium
(Musikgymnasium)
Music Gymnasia combine general secondary education with specialist music teaching at an advanced level. Some have boarding departments. The Music Gymnasia in Berlin, Dresden and Weimar are closely linked to a Musikhochschule, drawing on their staff for music lessons. A number of outstanding Music Gymnasia are affiliated to celebrated church choirs.
Additionally, many other secondary schools provide excellent music teaching either in house or in collaboration with a local music school. 
Young Student (Jungstudent) The German Musikhochschulen offer a limited number of places to outstandingly talented young students. Principal study lessons are taught by Hochschule staff; where additional subjects such as music theory or aural training are not offered arrangements are generally made with a local music school. 
Young Student (Jungstudent)
Pre-college Department (Hochbegabtenzentrum)
Some Musikhochschulen have a special Pre-college Department offering integrated music education to outstandingly talented young students (e.g. Detmold, Hannover, Koln, Mannheim). In addition to principal study lessons, a comprehensive musical curriculum is provided, which may include a second study; tuition is usually at weekends. The curriculum is set individually, in close cooperation with the pupil’s secondary school and parents.
Private tuition
Many professionally qualified teachers offer private instrumental and vocal tuition.

Additional Information

Music and Arts in General Education
Although all German states stipulate general music teaching to be part of the primary and secondary curriculum, the actual availability and quality of this instruction varies considerably. In some exceptional cases, music is even taught by persons without professional qualifications (Fachfremder Unterricht). The importance of churches as places of music education has declined slightly in recent years due to the general drop in religious observance, nonetheless most larger Catholic and Protestant congregations employ at least one specially trained professional musician.
 
For specialist amateur musical training, see “Music Colleges“ above.
Students entering Higher Music Education
Although most students entering a Musikhochschule previously attended a music school or received private lessons, a significant minority come from a Konservatorium, a Musikgymnasium; or were already enrolled at a Musikhochschule either at its pre-college department or as a Jungstudent. 
Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level
The competition for young amateur musicians “Jugend Musiziert” is popular throughout the country. Soloists and ensembles of all age levels can participate at local, regional and national level. There are various prizes to encourage further development, including public performances (in exceptional cases as a soloist with a professional orchestra), master classes and summer courses.
 
In addition to the orchestras and choirs at primary and secondary schools, music schools and in church congregations, there are Youth Orchestras at local, regional and national level, as well as a large number of amateur instrumental and vocal ensembles of every kind.

Overview of Music Teacher Education System

As each federal State (Bundesland) has its own education laws and regulations, there are substantial regional differences in teacher training. The following overview therefore concentrates on some of the more common aspects.
 
Responsibility for training music teachers for primary and secondary schools (Lehramt or Schulmusik) is shared between the Musikhochschulen and the Universities according to the law of the respective federal state.
Instrumental or vocal music teacher training (Musikpädagogik) can be studied at almost every Musikhochschule in Germany.

Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education

Institutions
Almost every Musikhochschule offers BA and MA degrees in instrumental or vocal music teaching (Musikpädagogik).
Structure
Depending on state law and the individual profile of the Musikhochschule, pedagogical training may be offered as specialised BA or MA degree, or as part of a combined degree in musical performance and pedagogy.

Some institutions offer so-called ‘double degrees’ (Doppelfachstudiengänge), in which two full curricula are taught in parallel. These very demanding courses may combine school teacher training with a performance degree, or a degree in music pedagogy combined with a special qualification in church music. 
Curriculum
A specific BA in Music Pedagogy will offer a comprehensive curriculum in instrumental or vocal teaching. Increasingly students are expected to learn to work with pupils from a wide range of ages, ability and cultural background.

As an elective subject at Bachelor level, a music pedagogy curriculum typically includes psychology, pedagogy and teaching practice. The ‘double degree’ has a double focus; on musical performance, and on instrumental/vocal teacher training. 
Genres
Depending on the distinct artistic and pedagogical profile of the individual Hochschule, students work within the core genres of Western classical and popular music, with a varying level of engagement with other genres and musical practices.
Internationalization
Most German Musikhochschulen are active participants in the ERASMUS exchange programme, and students of music pedagogy are encouraged to use the opportunities this provides. Some institutions maintain formal ties to foreign institutions in the specific field of music pedagogy.
Employability
 Graduates can work in any of the institutions listed above, or as private teachers.
There are a limited number of salaried jobs (Festanstellungen) for instrumental and vocal music teachers, for example in the music schools, but a majority of staff members are hourly paid (Lehrbeauftragte).
 
Despite a decline in the number of full-time jobs available in recent years, the institutions named above remain important potential employers. Self-employed music teachers registered with the Künstlersozialkasse enjoy certain subsidized health and pension benefits.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
The German Musikhochschulen offer various postgraduate courses.  

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

Institutions
Responsibility for training music teachers for primary and secondary schools is shared between the Musikhochschulen and the Universities according to the law of the respective federal state.

Most school music teachers in Germany are required to teach an additional school subject, which is normally studied as part of a joint degree programme, for example in Music and History, offered in collaboration between a Musikhochschule and a local University. The exact combination of subjects permitted varies according to the education laws of the individual federal states.
Structure
Most German federal states have adopted BA and MA degrees for school music teachers. Where this is not the case, students study for a state examination (Staatsexamen) as a school music teacher. 
Curriculum
A wide range of different curricula are offered, depending on the education law of the individual federal states, the type of qualification (BA, MA or state examination) and on the type of school for which this qualification is required. The diversity of the individual educational systems in the German states, combined with major regional differences between secondary-level schools offering different academic profiles has led to serious problems of compatibility from state to state. The consequences for pupils, teachers and parents alike are far-reaching; it is essential to obtain expert advice in advance of any educational decision.
 
Irrespective of the precise nature of the qualification being aimed for, School Music Teaching degrees typically require intense study of a wide-ranging, demanding curriculum, including compulsory internships.
Genres School music teachers in Germany typically work in a wide range of musical styles, including but not restricted to the core genres of Western classical and popular music. Many schools require their teachers to demonstrate strong intercultural skills, and school music teachers increasingly aim to engage with the musical traditions familiar to their pupils, whether these are non-Western, or specific genres within Western music (Hip Hop, Beatbox, Rap etc.) 
Internationalization Most German Musikhochschulen are active participants in the ERASMUS exchange programme; the highly specific nature of the Lehramt curricula can however make it difficult to students of music pedagogy to use the opportunites this provides. Some institutions participate in international collaborations, for example in the Erasmus Intensive Programme.
Employability
The demand for primary and secondary school music teachers varies according to the requirements of each German federal state; the individual schools will usually look for candidates offering a specific combination of music with another subject (see above). Because of incompatibilities between the education laws of the federal states, a qualification gained in one state may not be recognized in other states.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
The German Musikhochschulen offer various postgraduate courses.