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

Funding Curricula


a separate training profile is currently being made. composer. but Master of Music will be everywhere. Entry requirements 2nd cycle % of students who continue with 2nd cycle 3rd cycle Finished 1st cycle and a study plan for the 2nd cycle.for the music profession). the students do not have a degree to teach. music teacher. 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.). the institutions have to construct their study programmes according to an addendum for pedagogical competencies. the conservatoire of Amsterdam and the Leiden University). All Dutch conservatoires have to take into consideration these profiles as a minimum outcome requirement for their study programmes. jazz. Master of Music in Education. Without taking the courses developed in the framework of this addendum. For performing musicians wanting to teach. this can only be done in collaboration with universities (see collaboration between Royal Conservatory The Hague. In terms of content of the study programmes. the institutions are allowed to develop the content in their own way.nvao. Within these strands there can be specialisations (church music.net) is responsible for the accreditation process. Master in Jazz Performance (with University of Miami). App 50% Dutch conservatoires are not allowed to give out Doctorates on their own. Also here. based on professional profiles described earlier by the music profession. but within the framework of the training profiles. Master of Arts in Music Theory (with Amsterdam University). The Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie (NVAO) (see http://www. Institutions make use of a credit point system. compatible with ECTS (1.5 national credit point equals 1 ECTS point). etc. 2-cycle system 1st cycle: 2nd cycle: 4 years 2 years Qualifications Bachelor of Music (in Education).Musician. music technologists. although its members are appointed by the Ministry Credit point system Quality assurance 2 . the addendum for pedagogical competencies is nation-wide. Master – Currently different per institution. implementation is up to the individual institutions. For music teachers in schools. which is made in addition to the general training profiles. Amsterdam: MM. Master in Opera.

The institution offers the report to NVAO with a request for accreditation. The steps in this process include: • institution chooses a Visiting and Validating Institution (VVI). If they do not gain accreditation. • VVI sends a visitation committee (musicians and educationalists) to the institution. NVAO formulates general standards focusing on six aspects: objectives. Accreditation is compulsory and public.hbo-raad. An estimation of the percentage of students finding a job is 80%. Some training is given to the experts according to the policy of the VVI chosen. Employability It is hard to give the percentages of graduates finding a job within the music profession. Programmes have to be accredited once every six years by NVAO on the basis of the NVAO Accreditation Framework. as both the NVAO accreditation decisions and the quality assessment reports are published by NVAO on its website. The Accreditation Framework also leads to a further fine-tuning of the systems for internal quality assurance by the various institutions. Start academic year: September 1st End academic year: August 31st Organisation academic year in semesters Academic year Pre-college Music Schools offer music education outside of the general education system. they loose degree-awarding power and government funding. There is no national curriculum being used. since most foreign students are going back to their home countries. a visitation by peers. and a visitation by a panel of independent experts. Few students proceed to higher music education. NVAO grants the accreditation The process makes use of a self-evaluation report by the institution. Sectoraal Advies College Kunstonderwijs – see http://www. • institution sends the VVI a self evaluation report. 3 . and • if positive. 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. but provide preparation for professional music training as well and mainly provide instrumental/vocal training. There are no further formal requirements concerning this benchmark. internal quality assurance and outcomes (see http://www. and therefore must close. 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. The NVAO asks the VVIs to compare the institution which is visited with other (inter)national institutions.of Education. facilities.nl). • VVI writes a report. formulated by institutions and music organizations (to be obtained via HBO-Raad. programme. to students of all ages and stages. which is sent to the institution. Accreditation is the final statement in the process of external quality assurance and may lead to a decision by the Ministry to withhold funding.nvao. Schools are mainly focused on amateur training.net). staff.

consisting of one or two preparatory years of study leading directly to the entrance exam of the first cycle or Bachelor study. and cater for students between 7 and 17. School voor Jong Talent). There are a number of secondary schools that have a strong emphasis on culture (which can be split up in different disciplines. 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). music being one of them). 4 . The course caters for musically talented youngsters who intend to begin professional music training after finishing high school. others have students who follow music lessons at Music Schools. The conservatoires in The Hague and Groningen also have a PreJunior Class for very young children. These schools do not provide instrumental/vocal training but do often give theory lessons and undertake many music related activities. providing many students. All state-funded conservatoires have Junior Departments. Secondary school with music education on an advanced level (Havo voor Muziek en Dans. there is a tradition of Harmony. Fanfare and Brass (HaFaBra) bands. except for the institutes in Alkmaar and Utrecht. Both schools are integrated in the building of the conservatoire. Secondary school with a specialisation in music education. Some teachers have strong informal connections to Conservatoires. Preparatory Courses are offered by all state-funded conservatoires. but who first have to improve their instrumental level and knowledge about music and music theory. Private tuition forms an important part of the pre-college education system in The Netherlands. These so-called ‘Jong Talent Klassen’ (Young Talent Classes) have the means to educate musically gifted children to the highest possible level. Some of the Hafabra-unions have their own teachers. In some parts of The Netherlands. 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 school is open to students between 10 and 18 years of age.