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Overview of Professional Music Training System in Turkey In general

Until 1982, the State Conservatories were part of the organisation of the Ministry of Culture together with the State Operas, State Theatres, State Symphony Orchestras, the main purpose being training young artists for various institutions on a high level. The Ankara State Conservatory was established in 1936 as a boarding school, so was the Izmir State Conservatory (1956). In Istanbul the music life was mainly organised by the municipality with the conservatoire, city opera and theatre along with the city symphony orchestra which served also as the opera orchestra. From 1968 to 1972 these were reorganised after the Ankara model (except the conservatoire). In sum, Istanbul had the Municipality Conservatoire (1922), the State Conservatory (1971) (later the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory, 1982) and in 1974 the State Conservatory for traditional music was founded. According to the structural changes in 1982 all the State Conservatories have been assigned to the universities, the Municipality Conservatoire included. Generally the State Conservatories had two departments: Music + Scenic Arts Dept.: Composition, Stringed Instruments, Winds and Percussion, Piano-Harp and Guitar divisions forming the Music Dept.; Ballet (Classical), Opera, Acting divisions forming the Scenic Arts Dept. This plan was proposed by the German musician Paul Hindemith, who was invited to Ankara three times between 1930 and 1933. Until 1982 the periods of education for various programmes differed from 4 to 10 years. At the moment the State Conservatories have a two-cycle system similar to Anglo-Saxon universities (4+2 years); the preparatory education taking part within for instruments, singing, dance and composition. The Council of Higher Education in the capital represents all universities. Mimar Sinan University (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University-2004) being the senior establishment in Higher Arts Education has a privilege; namely the Rector of the University is the president of the Council for the Arts Education which is coordinating the education in various conservatoires, faculties of fine arts etc. Professional music training in Turkey is provided by Conservatoires, Institutions and Music Faculties. These foundations are part of the general higher education system in Turkey. However, students are not selected by OSS (the students selection examination), but by auditions which are held by the professional music training institutions themselves. Since the Bologna Declaration in 1999 a changing process has taken place in the professional music training institutions, as in other universities in Turkey. Since 2002 students and academic staff exchanging programmes have been activated in universities. The amount of students participating in exchanging programmes is increasing massively.


Total number of institutions

Total number of music students

14 (10 State Conservatories, 3 State Conservatories for Traditional Music and 1 Faculty for Music and Performing Arts (Bilkent University- assoc. Member of AEC).

Including the preparatory sections (full time + part time) the total number of students is app. 3350 [ =1430 (1st cycle) + 1920 (others) ] excluding the 2nd cycle which is app. 10% of the graduates from the 4th year of the 1st cycle.


Professional music training institutions are either State funding (Ministry of Education) or private funding (however they are controlled by the Council for Higher Education).


The curricula for professional music training are approved by the Council for Higher Arts Education which should have at least 60% in common to enable the student transition between other conservatoires.

2-cycle system

1st cycle: 2nd cycle:


1st cycle: Bachelor of Music (orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, music theory, composition Bachelor of Musicology (general musicology, ethnomusicology, folklore) Bachelor of Scenic Arts (dance, modern dance, acting, theatre, opera) 2nd cycle: Name of the Department plus Name of the programme (=Master of Music in Stringed Instruments – Violin) etc.

Entry requirements 2nd cycle

% of students who continue with 2nd cycle 3rd cycle

4 years 2 years

a) entrance examinations: performing at least three works from different periods (instruments; singing) – b) presenting the scores of compositions (composition) etc. plus a certificate approving the ability for a major foreign language.

App. 10%. A 3rd cycle in music training is offered by two institutions: ‘Mimar Sinan’ Fine Arts University and Bilkent University. The 3rd cycle exists with two different qualifications; for Performance Programmes, instead of DMA the title ‘Proficiency in Arts’ is used, which is rather confusing. The matter of obtaining the DMA degree is still under discussion but the Musicology Department has the titles ‘Doctor of Musicology / or Ethnomusicology’ after a minimum of 3 years of education.


Credit point system

Some institutions make use of Arts University is reorganising for compatibility with ECTS. approval from Brussels. Many are working on this matter.

Quality assurance

Since 2005, quality assurance for the universities is organized by the YOK (Council of Higher Education) each year at the professional level. The YODEK (Independent Commission for Academic Assessment and Quality Improvement in Higher Education Institution) is the guiding committee directed by YOK. It does not lead to an evaluation. The system makes use of self-evaluation reports compiled by each faculty at the institution. Some changes in the system are planned in order to equalize it with European systems of quality assurance and accreditation.


The graduates from several levels: (1st cycle) are either employed by the state or private institutions or the graduates of 2nd and 3rd cycles may choose between them and their universities. Appr. 50-70% of the graduates find jobs related to music education. Generally, the graduates find work as an orchestra member, and a elementary and high school teachers. Mostly they continue their academic studies to become professional music educators in conservatoires.

Academic year

The academic year starts in October, mainly two semesters with 28 weeks of educations in total (14+14) plus the two periods for examinations (entrance examinations take place in September / final examinations are planned for June and July).


Pre-college education is mainly provided within conservatoires. Pupils can take a part-time or a full-time trajectory. ƒ


a credit point system. The Mimar Sinan Fine all of its programmes (1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle) This system will be introduced after the other universities in the country (55 in sum)

Part-time music education at conservatoires includes music education only, without general education. It caters for students between 7 and 17 years of age. The education continues along with the general elementary school. If a conservatoire has a Junior Department (see below), most talented and enthusiastic Part-time students switch to the Full-time education before having finished the Part-time studies. The other type of pre-college education within conservatoires is full-time education, provided through Junior Departments. These provide high levelled music education plus some general education subjects. Students can enter the Junior Department from 11 years of age. The education is split up in two parts; 3 years plus 3 (or 4) years. The first 3 years are used to finish general secondary education. In the next 3 or 4 years, students receive general high school education. Instrumental lessons are most often taught by conservatoire teachers or their assistants.






Bilkent University, a private university, offers full-time music education including general education for children from 7 years of age. They have a special program for very young children as well, called Early Music Education Program. The program caters for 3 or 4 year old children, trying to detect talent at as young an age as possible. Fine Arts High Schools are ‘regular’ high schools, providing extra courses on art subjects (music, painting etc). They offer instrumental training on certain instruments. Some private teachers provide instrumental and vocal tuition, outside of any institutes or general education systems. Private teachers may provide lessons in classical music, folk music, Turkish music, or pop and jazz music. They mainly cater for amateur students. However, some talented students may proceed to higher music education. There are many private courses or private music schools that offer lessons in folk music and Turkish music, and a few schools that are focused on Western classical music. Most of these offer courses meant for amateurs (hobby). A few prepare students for the entrance examinations of Junior Departments of the conservatories.


Turkey - Professional Music Training System  

1 Entry requirements 2 nd cycle a) entrance examinations: performing at least three works from different periods (instruments; singing) – b)...

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