Italy National Overview

Updated in June 2018 by Terrell Stone, International Relations Coordinator at Conservatory of Music in Vicenza, Italy.

Overview of Higher Music Education System

Higher Education Institutions for Fine Arts, Music and Dance – AFAM
The Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale - AFAM sector includes the following institutions for Higher Education in the Arts and Music:

  • 44 Academies of Fine Arts and Academies of Fine Arts recognised by law (Accademie di belle arti and Accademie di belle arti legalmente riconosciute);
  • the National Academy of Drama (Accademia nazionale di arte drammatica);
  • 4 Higher Institutes for Applied Arts (Istituti superiori per le industrie artistiche - ISIA);
  • the National Dance Academy (Accademia nazionale di danza);
  • 79 Music Conservatories and Recognised Music Institutes (Conservatori di musica and Istituti musicali pareggiati).

The official list of Italian AFAM institutions is available on the following website:  http://www.afam.miur.it/argomenti/istituzioni.aspx
These institutions carry out teaching, production and research in visual arts, music, dance, drama and design. Since the 1999 reform, Afam’s educational offering has been structured in three cycles, in accordance with the Bologna Process objectives.
 
The First Cycle is made up of first level diploma programmes (Corsi di diploma accademico di primo livello) that aim to provide students with an adequate knowledge of artistic methods, acquisition of fundamental technical skills as well as basic research abilities. Professional and language skills are also offered. Admission requirements foresee an upper secondary school diploma issued after successful completion of the required state exams, or a comparable foreign diploma. Admission procedures require candidates to take an entrance exam to demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge and skills, in accordance with institutional regulations. The maximum number of available places is determined by each individual institution. Study programmes last three years. To obtain the first level diploma (Diploma accademico di primo livello), the student must have acquired 180 credits and pass the final exam.
 
The Second Cycle consists of second level diploma programmes (Corsi di diploma accademico di secondo livello), which offer students an advanced level of education dedicated to high-level acquisition of artistic methods and techniques, integrated and applied research as well as a high level of professional competency. Admission requirements are either a First Level diploma, or a university degree or a comparable foreign qualification. There may also be explicit requirements as defined by specific institutional regulations. Study programs last two years and require the acquisition of 120 credits and the completion of a final exam.
 
The Third Cycle is dedicated to the mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with a specific field of study (Corsi di formazione alla ricerca). The goal of the Third Cycle is to provide the competences to plan and carry out high-level research activities and their applications to specific fields of study. Currently, Italian conservatories are not authorized by the Ministry to offer Third Cycle programmes.
 
Other courses conservatories may offer:

  • Specialization academic courses I (Corsi accademici di specializzazione I): these courses provide high-level professional competences in specific areas. Admission requirements are either a First Level diploma, a First Level university degree or a comparable foreign qualification.
  • Specialization academic courses II (Corsi accademici di specializzazione II): these courses provide high-level professional competences in specific areas. Admission requirements are either a Second Level diploma, a Second Level university degree or a comparable foreign qualification.
  • Advanced or Master courses I (Corsi di perfezionamento o master I): these courses provide in-depth study in specific sectors as well as professional development, retraining and continuing education. They have a minimum of 60 credits. Admission requirements are either a First Level diploma, a First Level university degree or a comparable foreign qualification.
  • Advanced or Master courses II (Corsi di perfezionamento o master II): these courses provide in-depth study in specific sectors as well as professional development, retraining and continuing education. They have a minimum of 60 credits. Admission requirements are either a Second Level diploma, a Second Level university degree or a comparable foreign qualification.

Qualifications issued by Italian conservatories are also described the Italian Qualification framework of Higher education (QTI).

Total number of institutions
There are 58 music Conservatories and 21 Officially Recognized Institutes of Music (Istituti Musicali Pareggiati).
Total number of music students
statistics on the number of students:
http://statistica.miur.it/scripts/AFAM/vAFAM1.asp 
Funding
Mostly the Ministry funds Music Conservatories while local governments mostly fund the Officially Recognized Institutes of Music. 
Curricula
Curricula requirements for the First Cycle include a range of educational activities (attività formative) and the allocation of the number of minimum ECTS credits necessary to achieve the final diploma (180 ECTS for First Cycle and 120 ECTS for Second Cycle). These activities are grouped into six areas:

a) Basic (attività formative relative alla formazione di base)
b) Characteristic (attività formative caratterizzanti)
c) Supplementary / (Related (attività formative integrative o affini)
d) Additional (attività formative ulteriori)
e) Elective/Other (attività formative a scelta dello studente)
f) Final Exam and Foreign Language Knowledge (attività formative relative alla prova finale e alla conoscenza della lingua straniera)
 

Curricula Tables (griglie curriculari) are usually provided for each study course and are generally available on the Conservatory’s website or by request. Each institution has the autonomy to determine the distribution of ECTS credits and authorized course offerings but the Ministry has established minimum/maximum thresholds for three of the educational activities:
Basic – 32/40 ECTS credits;
Characteristic – 68/76 ECTS credits;
Elective/Other – 18 ECTS credits.

The organizational structure for the Second Cycle study programmes is similar to the First Cycle but characterized by course content that is highly specialized in regards to the First Cycle study course.
Genres
There are many musical genres available in Italian conservatories ranging from Classical Music to Jazz to Early Music to Electronic Music to Sound Technology to Music Education and more. Some conservatories offer rare study courses in genres such as Indian Music, World Music, Liturgical Music (… ). In addition, study programmes such as Music Therapy may be offered in conjunction with universities.
2-cycle system
1st cycle: 3 years (Triennio)
2nd cycle: 2 years (Biennio)
Qualifications
First Cycle: First Level Academic Diploma (Diploma Accademico di Primo Livello): artistic job preparation and working qualification. This first grade is equalized to the Diploma of the old system (law passed in 1930). Possession of the first cycle diploma allows access to the second cycle programme, to specialisation courses and to Master courses.
 
Second Cycle: Second Level Academic Diploma (Diploma Accademico di Secondo Livello): building on First Level diploma competencies, the Second Cycle offers more advanced courses and additional job preparation. Possession of the Second Level diploma allows access to the third cycle programme and to specialisation courses. The diploma gives holders access to job competitions in the public sector, as well as to artistic careers and to further studies in Master courses and to the 3rd cycle. 
Entry requirements 1st cycle
First Cycle candidates must be in possession of a secondary school diploma (Diploma di Maturità) or an equivalent foreign diploma and undergo an entrance exam. Generally, each single course of study has precise requirements for the entrance exam and these requirements may differ from conservatory to conservatory. The entrance exam is meant to evaluate specific technical/artistic preparation (instrumental, vocal, composition, direction, music education…) and adequate general music culture foreseen by the First Cycle learning objectives expected during the course of study.
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
Most of the Second Cycle study courses are highly specialised and applicants must show a marked aptitude along with sufficient basic training to be admitted to the courses.
Necessary requirements for entrance to the Second Cycle include a secondary school diploma, a pre-reform Conservatory diploma or a First Level Conservatory diploma (equivalent study titles from foreign institutions may be recognized). Admission may also be granted to those in possession of university degrees in which case the admission test will verify the acquisition of knowledge and specific skills equivalent to those required at the completion of First Level Conservatory diploma.
Candidates are expected to present an entrance exam meant to evaluate specific technical/artistic preparation (instrumental, vocal, composition, direction, music education…) and adequate general music culture foreseen by the Second Cycle learning objectives expected during the course of study. 
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle Data not available.
3rd cycle
Currently, Italian conservatories are not authorized by the Ministry to offer Third Cycle programmes.
Credit point system
All institutions make use of the ECTS credit point system.
Internationalization
Italian conservatories holding the European Charter for Higher Education (ECHE) are qualified to participate in various opportunities offered by ErasmusPlus programmes. The mobility of students, teachers and staff is central to the Internationalization activities.
Through to specific inter-institutional agreements, conservatories are able award qualifications together with other recognized Italian and foreign institutions of the same level according to the international and European community law (joint qualification). 
Quality assurance
By law, all conservatories are required to adhere quality assurance procedures, which should be assured by an internal commission (Nucleo di valutazione) and an external body. In 2007 the Italian Government created the National Agency for Evaluation of the University System and Research called ANVUR (Agenzia nazionale di valutazione del sistema universitario e della ricerca). At present, ANVUR is establishing qualifications and conducting evaluations of non-state AFAM institutions.
Employability
Well-defined employability opportunities for music graduates are rather rare in Italy. However, through the competencies achieved during the periods of study, most ex students should be able to undertake the development of their professional career in music. Because of a changing job market, many ex students strive to create a ‘portfolio career’ balancing part-time work experiences (teaching, performing, arranging…) with continued studies and participation in music competitions and auditions. Often ex students become involved in the promotion of cultural and musical events at the local and regional level thereby providing valuable services as well as establishing their own visibility to and interaction with the community. 
Academic Year
The official Academic year begins in the beginning of November and ends on the 31st of October. However, each institution has the right to adjust the Academic year to its needs. Examinations take place in June-July (Summer session), September-October (Autumn session) and February (Winter session).

Overview of the Pre-College Music Education System
 
Types of pre-college education
Music in General Education
 
Music is part of the curriculum in general education, with differences between Primary and Secondary schools.
 
In Primary schools, musical activities are offered by a general teacher with no specific musical training.
 
In Lower Secondary schools (age 11 to 14), music is taught 2 hours a week by a specifically qualified music teacher, chosen through a national selection.
In Upper Secondary schools (age 14 to 19), music is only taught in “Liceo delle scienze sociali”; one hour a week aimed at teaching how to use music in community activities.
 
No music is taught in the other Upper Secondary schools
 
All types of schools can be public (free) or private (for a fee).
Music Lower Secondary schools (Scuole Medie a Indirizzo musicale)
“Scuole medie a indirizzo musicale” (Music Lower Secondary schools, age 11 to 14) are spread all over the country: at the moment we can count 1400. They provide general education in the morning (included 2 hours a week of music as in all lower secondary schools) and three hours a week of Instrumental Classes and Musical Ensemble, which are taught in the afternoon. Each school can offer 3 to 5 different instrumental classes, and each student has to choose one. Students have to pass an entrance exam.
Instrumental teachers are highly qualified and selected through a national call.
Music Upper Secondary Schools (Licei musicali)
 
“Licei musicali” (Music Upper Secondary schools, age 14-19) started in 2010, and are gradually growing in number. They are mainly -but not only- public schools and offer nearly all kinds of musical instruments, according to the requests of the admitted students. They provide general education and 8 hours a week of specific musical subjects: History of Music, Theory, Analysis and Composition, Musical Technologies, Main Instrument, Second instrument, Ensemble. Students have to pass an entrance exam.
State Music Conservatories and Institutes for Higher Musical Studies (Conservatori di Musica e Istituti Superiodi di Studi Musicali)
Conservatories offer pre-college programmes in order to prepare students to enter Higher Education programmes.
Teachers are usually the same in pre-college and in Higher Education programmes.
Private Music schools Private Music schools are independent institutions providing music education to students of all ages and stages outside the general education system. They generally do not receive public funding. They mainly provide amateur training, although some schools also provide a preparation for professional music training.
Private tuition
 
There are many professionally qualified teachers, who teach music outside of any institutions or general education system. They can provide amateur training or prepare students to the entrance exams to music secondary schools and Conservatories.


Overview of Music teacher Education System 

Conservatories of Music are the foremost institutions providing music teacher training. Some Universities offer studies which can be used to enter specific Music Teacher Training Programmes
General music teaching, instrumental teaching in Lower Secondary Schools and instrumental teaching in Upper Secondary Schools require each one a specific training and teachers are selected through specific calls.
 
Instrumental/vocal music teacher training
Institutions Instrumental and vocal teachers are trained in Music Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Structure Music teacher training and selection has very recently changed by law (Summer 2017) .
According to the new law, graduates from Music Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can apply for entering FIT (Formazione Iniziale Tirocinio) provided that they already got 24 credits in  Pedagogy, Psychology and Teaching methodologies during their previous studies. After passing the entrance exam, teachers-to-be must attend FIT, a 3 year teaching training programme including classes and school practice. Any discipline is intended to have its own FIT.
Employability According to the new law, FIT is required to teach in schools.
Teachers of Conservatories are selected mostly on the basis of their specific artistic activities (professional level performances and comprovata fama): a specific music degree is not required. Selection can also happen through national calls and exams.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
 
In-service teacher training is offered by many institutions. Special CPD courses for music teachers in conservatoires and music schools are expected to come into effect in the near future.
Training for music teacher in general education (primary and secondary school)
Institutions
Music teachers for kindergarten and primary schools are trained in universities within the first cycle programme in Pedagogy (Scienze della Formazione Primaria) where all subjects are taught.
As a consequence of the new law (Summer 2017) music teachers for secondary schools will be trained through the above described FIT. As the position of music teacher in primary and secondary schools is a regulated profession, enrollment to the FIT programme is limited to a specific number of applicants.  A 1st or 2nd cycle Music degree (both obtained in a Conservatory or in a university musicology programme) is required to apply fort the national selection and enter the FIT in General Music Teaching,
Structure The training of kindergarten and primary school teachers is a four-year Bachelor programme.  Only two subjects of the study programme are about music.
 
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
 
In-service teacher training is offered by many institutions, but not by conservatoires or universities. Special CPD courses for music teachers in conservatoires and music schools are expected to come into effect in the near future.