HOW TO GO ABOUT IT

 
  1. Should I go inside or outside the framework of an exchange programme?
  2. How do I find the right institution/teacher?
  3. What is the difference between undergraduate and graduate? 
  4. What is the difference between a bilateral and a multilateral exchange programme?
  5. Can I do an exchange at a college that is not part of the existing network of contacts available at my school?
  6. Do I have to do an audition? How?
  7. What language requirements do I have to meet?
  8. Can I choose my teacher?
  9. What about music teacher training courses?
  10. Can I participate in ensembles during my study abroad period?
  11. Should I take courses in addition to my main instrument classes?
  12. How long can I go and when?
  13. When and how should I start making preparations?
  14. What practical issues do I have to think about?
  15. An Action Plan in short

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1.  Should I go inside or outside the framework of an exchange programme?

There may be an exchange programme set up by your home institution, which will permit you to go on a study abroad period during your studies. If this is the case, you will receive assistance with your plans in many ways from your home institution. However, if this is not the case or you would like to go for an entire study programme to an institution abroad, you will have to organise it yourself, which will be more difficult and time-consuming, but not impossible. Remember that many have already done so.
 

2. How do I find the right institution/teacher?

Most institutions for professional music training have an international office and an international relations coordinator or contact person. Here you can discover which institutions abroad your school organizes exchanges with and who teaches there. Most institutions also have websites. You should also discuss your plans with your teacher: not only should he/she be fully informed about your plans to spend some time in another institution, but teachers usually also have international contacts and may be able to help you with choosing the right teacher and institution.

3. What is the difference between undergraduate and graduate? 

Many European countries are currently introducing the 3-cycle system. This is also the case for music. The term undergraduate normally refers to first cycle or equivalent studies (usually called Bachelor). The term graduate or postgraduate normally refers to second cycle or equivalent studies (usually called Master). The 3rd cycle usually refers to Doctorate/PhD courses, although at the 3rd cycle level there is much variety throughout Europe (see for more information on 3rd cycle courses the national descriptions). 

4. What is the difference between a bilateral and a multilateral exchange programme?

A bilateral exchange programme is an agreement between two institutes to co-operate on exchanges and possibly on other types of collaborative activities including financial aspects. Many professional music training institutions have bilateral exchange programmes with one or more institutions abroad.
A multilateral exchange programme involves a group of institutions that have made arrangements for co-operative activities as a network. This means that the members of the network can possibly collaborate with more institutions than in a bilateral exchange programme. Examples of such a multilateral exchange programme exist in professional music training, but these networks are supported by programmes other than the EU programmes (e.g. the NORDPLUS, CEEPUS programmes).
 

5. Can I do an exchange at a college that is not part of the existing network of contacts available at my school?

This depends on the rules within your institution. In many cases, international offices welcome new cooperation possibilities if the institution you have in mind is interesting to the school. In some cases, you are allowed to organise everything yourself, including establishing contacts, admission, and accommodation. However, some institutions will not allow the exchange to take place without an agreement on the details of your exchange regarding finances and recognition of studies between the two institutions. Please take into account that going outside the existing network will take much more preparation time, as the arrangements that have been developed in an existing bilateral/multilateral agreement are not in place. Often benefits offered in regular exchange programmes, like waiving of tuition fees and exempting from entrance examination, cannot be granted outside networks.
 

6. Do I have to do an audition? How?

According to the Erasmus University Charter, institutions are obliged to facilitate student exchanges by considering students applications only. However, due to the specifics of Higher Education Institutes in music with the one-to-one teaching feature in the major subjects some kind of audition has to take place in almost all cases. Information about the requirements should be available from the international office/contact person or from the host institution. Usually a recording or videotape is accepted. Sometimes theoretical tests are also required, but sending a transcript of records with modules you have taken so far and the results achieved will normally be sufficient.
 

7. What language requirements do I have to meet?

Some knowledge of the language of the host country is recommended; in some cases, it is required. You should ask your international office/contact person whether it is necessary and possible to follow a preparatory language course either at your home institution before your departure or at your host institution before beginning your study period abroad or during the study abroad itself. Host institutions of countries where the national language is less widely used and taught often offer European Intensive Language Preparatory Courses (EILPC) to incoming ERASMUS students.
 

8. Can I choose my teacher?

The choice of teacher will depend on the arrangements your institution has made with the partner institution abroad. Usually you can mention a preference for a specific teacher, but this teacher might not have a place in his/her studio. In that case, another teacher might be proposed. Students who want to study exclusively with a specific teacher are advised to make contact with this teacher beforehand; for example, during a summer course or a personal meeting/audition.
 

9. What about music teacher training courses?

Music teacher training programmes may vary substantially from country to country. You will have to discuss with your teacher, the international office/contact person or others in your home institution, and the specialists at the host institution whether you can follow courses in this area and if these courses will be recognised as part of your study abroad programme. The European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) has produced descriptions of national music-teacher-training systems in the various European countries as part of the European project EFMET – European Forum for Music Education and Training. These descriptions provide information on how these systems are constructed; information has been collected on classroom music teachers and instrumental/vocal teachers.
 

10. Can I participate in ensembles during my study abroad period?

In most institutions you should be able to participate in ensemble activities, such as chamber music groups, orchestras, or big bands. These possibilities could differ from instrument to instrument. Ask the international office/contact person or the host institution about the possibilities and make sure your learning agreement mentions this clearly. It is important to ask for this ahead of time, as sometimes the participation in ensembles requires careful planning beforehand.
 

11. Should I take courses in addition to my main instrument classes?

This depends on the arrangements between your institution and the host institution, on the learning agreement (see questions 5, 6 and 9) and on the requirements stipulated by the study programme itself. It will also depend on your study phase, which might ask for these additional courses. Some conservatoires in Europe are part of larger higher education institutions or have connections with universities and can therefore provide classes in other fields than music. Even if it is not compulsory, it is advisable to follow courses in addition to your main instrument classes, since many institutes offer very interesting and useful courses.
 

12. How long can I go and when?

This depends on the arrangements made between your institution and the host institution: the length of the ERASMUS exchange periods can usually vary from a one term/semester (the minimum period is 3 months) up to one full academic year. Please take into account that academic calendars can be different in the various countries.
 

13. When and how should I start making preparations?

Keep in mind that preparing an exchange takes a lot of time! Please take a close look at all relevant deadlines. Usually you should start a year (six months at the least) before the actual exchange, but sometimes even sooner if the institution you want to go to has an early deadline. And if you want to do an exchange outside the existing partnership of your school, a year could even be too short!
 

14. What practical things do I have to think about?

  • Finding accommodation is one of the first steps you need to organise. Often the least expensive alternative is to have a room on campus. However, European institutions might not have a campus. You should contact the campus accommodation office of the institution abroad about this as soon as possible or ask for advice from the international office/contact person of the host institution.
  • Whether you need a visa and a residence permit depends on the country you are from, the country you are travelling to, and the duration of your stay. The international office of the host institution should be able to provide you with more details about visa and permits. For relevant links to different national websites, please visit the section Practicalities of this website.
  • You have to take care of health, travel, instrument, and liability insurances before departure. The international office of the host institution should be able to provide you with more details about these issues.
  • Sometimes it can be useful to open a bank account in the host country. In North America, a credit card is essential.


15. An Action Plan in short


a. Gather information
b. Select an institution abroad
c. Clear study programme
d. Budget/cost-plan
e. Grant application
f. Visa and residence permit (if applicable)
g. Insurance
h. Language preparation
i. Accommodation abroad
j. If required and if possible: work permit
k. Social preparation
l. Address abroad
m. E-mail account
n. Contact address