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Overview of Professional Music Training System in The Netherlands In general

Higher music education in the Netherlands is offered in 9 conservatoires (since the conservatoire of Arnhem, Enschede and Zwolle were merged into one institution, ArtEZ). Conservatoires are not embedded in ‘traditional’ universities (aimed at scientific knowledge and research), but in Universities of Professional Education (UPEs). Conservatoires are mostly named (or seen as) ‘Faculty of Music’ or ‘Department of Music’ within the UPE. About half of the UPEs offering conservatoire education are so-called monosectoral UPEs. Those UPEs offer education only in the sector of Arts (one or more of the artistic disciplines music, dance, drama, fine arts, audiovisual arts). The other halves of the UPEs offering conservatoire education are multi-sectoral UPEs. Those UPEs also offer education in other sectors than the Arts, such as Economics, Technology, Health etc. Conservatoire programmes are offered on undergraduate (4 years) and post-graduate (1-2 years) level. Formally only two types of undergraduateprogrammes are offered: ‘Music’ and ‘Classroom Music Teacher’. The ‘Music’-programme hosts a variety of different curricula, such as performance (classical music, jazz, pop music, non-western music), conducting, composition and music technology. The undergraduate programmes are recognised as Bachelor’s degrees in the new Bachelor/Master system that is implemented in 2002-2003 as a result of the Bologna Declaration. Recognition of the post-graduate programmes as Master’s degrees is discussed at present.


A major concern at present for the conservatoires is, as probably anywhere in Europe, the relation between on the one hand the ever increasing demands in the professional practice of the skills and artistic qualities of conservatoire graduates and on the other hand the shrinking budgets of the conservatoires. Other important points under discussion are entrance levels and the quality of pre-conservatoire training, and the development of a quality assurance system that takes into account the specific character of professional music education.

Total number of institutions Total number of music students

9 (of which 6 offer a 2nd cycle)

App. 5000 Bachelor students App. 1000 Master students


State funding through Ministry of Education.


Curricula are not directly controlled by the State. There is a nationwide description of training profiles (the profiles are described as competencies


for the music profession), based on professional profiles described earlier by the music profession. All Dutch conservatoires have to take into consideration these profiles as a minimum outcome requirement for their study programmes. ƒ For music teachers in schools, a separate training profile is currently being made. ƒ For performing musicians wanting to teach, the institutions have to construct their study programmes according to an addendum for pedagogical competencies, which is made in addition to the general training profiles. Also here, the addendum for pedagogical competencies is nation-wide; implementation is up to the individual institutions. Without taking the courses developed in the framework of this addendum, the students do not have a degree to teach. In terms of content of the study programmes, the institutions are allowed to develop the content in their own way, but within the framework of the training profiles. 2-cycle system

1st cycle: 2nd cycle:


Bachelor of Music (in Education)- Musician, composer, music technologists, music teacher. Within these strands there can be specialisations (church music, jazz, etc.). Master – Currently different per institution, but Master of Music will be everywhere. Amsterdam: MM, Master in Opera, Master of Arts in Music Theory (with Amsterdam University), Master of Music in Education, Master in Jazz Performance (with University of Miami).

4 years 2 years

Entry requirements 2nd cycle

Finished 1st cycle and a study plan for the 2nd cycle.

% of students who continue with 2nd cycle

App 50%

3rd cycle

Dutch conservatoires are not allowed to give out Doctorates on their own; this can only be done in collaboration with universities (see collaboration between Royal Conservatory The Hague, the conservatoire of Amsterdam and the Leiden University).

Credit point system

Institutions make use of a credit point system, compatible with ECTS (1,5 national credit point equals 1 ECTS point).

Quality assurance

The Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie (NVAO) (see is responsible for the accreditation process. The new system in place in the Netherlands is geared toward a go/no-go decision by NVAO which operates independently from both the institutions and the Ministry of Education, although its members are appointed by the Ministry


of Education. NVAO was founded by a Treaty (2003) between the governments of the Netherlands and Flanders and is responsible for the accreditation of higher education programmes in both countries. Programmes have to be accredited once every six years by NVAO on the basis of the NVAO Accreditation Framework. If they do not gain accreditation, they loose degree-awarding power and government funding, and therefore must close. The steps in this process include: • institution chooses a Visiting and Validating Institution (VVI), • institution sends the VVI a self evaluation report, • VVI sends a visitation committee (musicians and educationalists) to the institution, • VVI writes a report, which is sent to the institution. The institution offers the report to NVAO with a request for accreditation, and • if positive, NVAO grants the accreditation The process makes use of a self-evaluation report by the institution, a visitation by peers, and a visitation by a panel of independent experts. Some training is given to the experts according to the policy of the VVI chosen. Accreditation is compulsory and public, as both the NVAO accreditation decisions and the quality assessment reports are published by NVAO on its website. Accreditation is the final statement in the process of external quality assurance and may lead to a decision by the Ministry to withhold funding. The Accreditation Framework also leads to a further fine-tuning of the systems for internal quality assurance by the various institutions. NVAO formulates general standards focusing on six aspects: objectives, programme, staff, facilities, internal quality assurance and outcomes (see Dutch institutions of higher music education base the layout of their objectives and programmes on (rather global) national specifications regarding the expected level of proficiency of professional musicians, formulated by institutions and music organizations (to be obtained via HBO-Raad, Sectoraal Advies College Kunstonderwijs – see The NVAO asks the VVIs to compare the institution which is visited with other (inter)national institutions. There are no further formal requirements concerning this benchmark. Employability

It is hard to give the percentages of graduates finding a job within the music profession, since most foreign students are going back to their home countries. An estimation of the percentage of students finding a job is 80%.

Academic year

Start academic year: September 1st End academic year: August 31st Organisation academic year in semesters

Pre-college ƒ

Music Schools offer music education outside of the general education system, to students of all ages and stages. Schools are mainly focused on amateur training, but provide preparation for professional music training as well and mainly provide instrumental/vocal training. There is no national curriculum being used. Few students proceed to higher music education. 3

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In some parts of The Netherlands, there is a tradition of Harmony, Fanfare and Brass (HaFaBra) bands. Some of the Hafabra-unions have their own teachers; others have students who follow music lessons at Music Schools. Private tuition forms an important part of the pre-college education system in The Netherlands. Some teachers have strong informal connections to Conservatoires, providing many students. Secondary school with a specialisation in music education. There are a number of secondary schools that have a strong emphasis on culture (which can be split up in different disciplines, music being one of them). These schools do not provide instrumental/vocal training but do often give theory lessons and undertake many music related activities. Secondary school with music education on an advanced level (Havo voor Muziek en Dans, School voor Jong Talent). The conservatoire in Rotterdam has a secondary school that provides Higher Secondary Education in combination with music education at an advanced level (Havo voor Muziek en Dans). The conservatoire in The Hague has established a ‘School voor Jong Talent’ (school for young talent) which provides general education including high levelled music education at primary level (grade 7/8) and secondary school Havo/VWO/gymnasium (Higher Secondary Education and Pre-university Education). The school is open to students between 10 and 18 years of age. Both schools are integrated in the building of the conservatoire. All state-funded conservatoires have Junior Departments, except for the institutes in Alkmaar and Utrecht. These so-called ‘Jong Talent Klassen’ (Young Talent Classes) have the means to educate musically gifted children to the highest possible level, and cater for students between 7 and 17. The conservatoires in The Hague and Groningen also have a PreJunior Class for very young children. Preparatory Courses are offered by all state-funded conservatoires, consisting of one or two preparatory years of study leading directly to the entrance exam of the first cycle or Bachelor study. The course caters for musically talented youngsters who intend to begin professional music training after finishing high school, but who first have to improve their instrumental level and knowledge about music and music theory.


Netherlands - Professional Music Training System  

Total number of institutions 9 (of which 6 offer a 2 nd cycle) Curricula Curricula are not directly controlled by the State. There is a nati...

Netherlands - Professional Music Training System  

Total number of institutions 9 (of which 6 offer a 2 nd cycle) Curricula Curricula are not directly controlled by the State. There is a nati...