PaedDr. Maria Strenacikova, PhD.

Academy of Arts in Banska Bystrica, Faculty of Music Arts, Slovakia Kollarova 22, 97401 Banska Bystrica, Slovakia Email:

Published: 16 May 2019 Copyright © Strenacikova.

Cite this article: Strenacikova, M. (2019). Synopsis Of Slovak Music Education. International Journal of Liberal Arts and Social Science, 7(4), 43-57.

Abstract The music education in Slovakia could be divided into two categories: general music education (provided in primary schools) and vocational music education (provided in vocational secondary schools and universities). Each child must attend music classes in primary school. Some children simultaneously attend music classes in Primary Art Schools focused on instrument playing, singing, composition, etc. Talented children may continue their vocational music education at Conservatories for four to six years (where they are either prepared to study at Universities or to become certified music teachers in Primary Art Schools). After graduation from the Conservatory (or, exceptionally, from another secondary school), the student can study at the University and focus either on art/music performance (to become a music professional in performing arts) or on teaching (to become a music teacher at Primary schools). When a student is very talented, he may continue in his doctoral studies.

Keywords: Primary Art Schools, Conservatories, Universities

1. Characteristic of the education system in Slovakia In order to create a brief summary of music education, first we introduce the school system in Slovakia. It consists of four main school levels: ● Kindergartens (3-6 year-olds) – they offer pre-school education; the last year is considered compulsory, but it does not count towards the formal compulsory schooling time. ● Primary schools (6-15 year-olds) – in two stages, they provide primary (elementary school) and lower secondary education (middle school). ● Secondary schools (15-19 year-olds) – they offer higher secondary education (high school) in three modalities: Gymnasium (general education), Conservatories (music education) and Specialized secondary schools (Vocational schools, Apprentice training schools) – some of them provide also post-secondary education and various follow-up courses. ● Universities (19 year-olds and above) – they provide tertiary education. Children with special educational needs might be educated, according to their individual study plan, in public schools for intact population (in regular classes or in specialized classes) or in special schools. Compulsory schooling lasts 10 years, starting in the first grade of primary school, usually at the age of 6 or 7. If the conditions require it, the child can start in null-grade (in order to prepare – socially and emotionally – for joining the school system). All public schools are free of charge for every Slovak student. When s(he) proceeds to his/hers second tertiary degree, or (s)he studies in part-time programs, (s)he must pay tuition, which might vary depending on the particular school – commonly cca 800€-1000€ per school year in Slovak language. Tuition for studying in foreign language might also vary – usually from 2500€-11000€. In all schools, the school year is divided into two halves. At the end of each, the students get report cards. At the tertiary level, these halves are called winter and summer semester.

Graph 1 and Graph 2

2. Music in general education 2.1 Music in kindergartens; age: 3-6 The child in kindergarten meets music in the educational area Art and Culture – Music education and Fine Arts Education. The content is formulated in the form of performance and content standards. It focuses on different areas of activity: rhythmical, vocal, instrumental, perceptual, musical-movement and musical-dramatical activities. The aim of music education is to “develop elementary musical abilities, skills and habits in preschool children, which will become the basis for their further full-fledging capture of music. It is a complex of musical activities that interweave, condition, complement, support and integrate meaningfully… Individual musical-educational activities form six sub-areas of this educational area.” (Ministerstvoškolstva, vedy, výskumu a športuSlovenskejrepubliky a Štátnypedagogickýústav, 2016b, p. 17) 2.2 Music education in primary schools (elementary and junior high schools); age: 6-15 Pupils at first stage of primary education attend compulsory music classes from 1st to 4th grade. “Music education at primary school is the artistic-educative, active subject, during which pupils learn to orientate themselves in the world of music on the basis of musical activities, their interest in elementary music activities and gradually also in further education in music and art are supported… Music should be both a game and a subject of child experimentation, a source of discovering approaches to musical knowledge and a means of pupil´s music expression that promotes their musical self-realisation in the complex of both active and receptive musical activities. Musical activities represent the most varied forms of a pupil’s contact with music, giving the opportunity to combine music with word, image, movement, play on elementary musical instruments. Musical activities are a basic means of developing a pupils’ musical and key competences.” (Štátnypedagogickýústav, 2014b, p. 2) Pupils perform voice, instrumental, perceptual, musical-movement and musical-dramatical activities. In the second stage of primary schools (5th-9th years of studies), pupils continue to develop acquired skills in all above mentioned activities. However, compulsory music classes are only from 5th to 8th grades. “Music education at primary school is an artistic- educational and active subject, at lower secondary level it is extended by the cognitive dimension – conscious penetration into the structure of musical work, musical-theoretical and musical-historical dimension, as a conclusion of previous musical activity, practical musical experience.” (Štátnypedagogickýústav, 2014a, p. 2) The primary aim of music education in the second stage of primary schools is that students “acquire musical skills through musical activities, perform musical activities based on acquired musical abilities, and gain specific knowledge from the field of musical theory and history based on their own experience.” (Štátnypedagogickýústav 2014a, p. 3). At this stage of music education, the new links to aesthetic and creativity are emphasized. The pupils learn to understand the essence of art, they collect experience in emotional contact with music, in perception of beauty, in improvisation or elementary composition. They are able to reflect on art and express themselves through art. Also, they can recognize the value of music and art.

Table 1

2.3 Music education in general education Secondary Schools – gymnasia (senior high schools); age: 16-19 At general education secondary schools, pupils attend only one class linked to music, Arts and Culture, for a total of 2 hours a week. However, this subject is not focused on music education, and the teacher may or may not include musical activities in his/her lesson plans. The aims of this class are listed in the state documents: “Pupils cultivate artistic, aesthetic, visual, acoustic, linguistic and movement literacy; enhance their experience with active creation in projects in the field of various arts and media; distinguish major artistic and cultural trends, streams and types; critically reflect on the current offer of visual culture and media; develop understanding of contemporary artistic and cultural creation; verbally or artistically interpret their own artistic experience; express their own ideas, experience and emotions through different media; engage in responsible attitude to the values of national culture; respect the values and differences of cultures of other nations, and develop awareness of their own cultural identity.” (Štátnypedagogickýústav, 2015c, p. 3) 3. Specialized music education 3.1 Primary music education – Primary Art Schools Pupils have the opportunity to attend specialized music classes in Music departments of Primary Art Schools, where they can learn to play different instruments, sing, compose etc. These classes are held in the afternoons, though they are not part of the afterschool programs of primary/elementary/middle/junior high schools or secondary/high schools. The programs usually offer three sessions per week (one in music theory and two in individual instrument/singing classes). However, these programs are not free of charge, the parents pay a symbolic tuition of approximately 10€-15€ per month for 6 to 15-year-old pupils. (Tuition for adult students is about 20€ per month). Primary art schools “offer the artistic education on elementary level of education to pupils with increased interest and predispositions to artistic creation. At present, these schools have dual conceptual line: – they prepare for further studies in field of studies at secondary schools and at conservatories, and they prepare for university studies of artistic and especially artistic-pedagogical focus, – prepare amateur artists who are able to create, interpret and receive art.” (Ministerstvoškolstva, vedy, výskumu a športuSlovenskejrepubliky, 2016a, p. 7) Primary art schools offer education for pupils from 6 years of age to adulthood (not limited by age; however, the adult studies last 4 years, as all levels in the Primary Art Schools). During the first year at the Primary Art School, a pupil attends preparatory classes and (s)he enters the first grade at the age of 7 or 8 (when (s)he normally enters the second grade in the general education primary school). During the preparatory studies, that usually take 1 or 2 years, pupils attend Preparatory music education class, Preparation to instrument playing or preparatory voice education.

Table 2 Table 3 Table 4

Students in the second stage of the Primary Art Schools can also choose elective classes, such as Theory of music, Basics of music, Playing percussion instruments, Harmony (1 hour per week), Playing in the ensemble or orchestra, Chamber music, Chamber or choir singing (2 hours per week), Improvisation, Choir conducting, Singing (0,5 hours per week) or Improvisation on organ (0,5 hours per week, except for the first grade).

3.2 Secondary music education – Conservatories The Conservatory is a secondary/high school where pupils prepare to become either professional interpreters (instrument players, singers, composers, conductors, dancers, actors), or music teachers. Also, after graduation from the Conservatory, they are prepared to proceed in their studies at the university with either artistic or educational focus. Pupils usually enter the conservatory after completing the primary general education school, i.e. at the end of the ninth grade (and in exceptional cases, after the 8th grade). They are accepted after succeeding in the admission exams. The overall time of studies here is usually 6 years. After the first four years and together with the successful completion of graduation exam (Maturita), the pupil may continue his/her studies at the University. If (s)he decides to stay at the Conservatory for two more years, (s)he receives after final exams the title DiS. art. (Certified specialist of art) and the qualification for teaching instrument/singing at Primary Art School. In the Conservatory, pupils take musical-theoretical, practical musical, and general-educational classes. Classes/subjects are divided into eight areas: Art and culture, Language and communication, Man and Nature, Man and Society, Mathematics and Work with information (but not mathematics, physics and chemistry), Health and Movement, Man and Values, Man and the World of work. Among these, the music classes form the core of the education.

Table 5 Table 5

(Some of the subjects are elective, pupils do not have to take all of them) Source: Štátnypedagogickýústav, 2008, p. 35-36,

3.3 Tertiary music education – Universities Tertiary music education is offered at universities, and also in part at conservatories. It is designed for those, who want to become music teachers, interpreters, conductors, composers, music critics, theoreticians. Overall, it could be divided into two variants: educating music teachers and educating professional musicians. 3.3.1 Educating music teachers for general primary education at elementary level The education of music teachers varies according to the type of school they will teach. Teachers of general education subjects at elementary and secondary schools study at Faculties of education at various universities. A) Teachers of the first stage in the primary education (grades 1-4): they study the program Pre-school and Elementary Pedagogy. During their training, they take several courses related to music. Although particular curricula may slightly differ in universities, for illustration, we show the one at the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica: Bachelor study: − Compulsory courses: Fundamentals of Music Education (1st year, total: 150 hours, 4 h/week), Music education in kindergarten and elementary school (1st year, total: 120 hours, 3h/week) − Compulsory elective courses: Music Practicum (2nd year, total: 90 hours, 2h/week), Musical instrument playing (2nd year, total: 90 hours, 2h/week), Master study: − Compulsory: Didactics of artistic-educational subjects with praxis (2nd year, 150 hours) − Compulsory elective: Instrument and Motion in Music Education (2nd year, 90 hours). (Univerzita Mateja Bela v Banskej Bystrici, Pedagogická fakulta UMB, 2017, p. 117-122) B) Teachers of the second stage in the primary education: in order to become a teacher of music education at the lower secondary education (grades 5-9),a student must complete the program Teaching artistic-educational and educational subjects/classes. The courses are divided into three groups: compulsory, compulsory electives (student must choose certain number of them) and free electives (student must choose certain number of them) in order to receive enough credits. To complete the Bachelor degree, (s)he needs 180 credits, and to finish the Master degree, (s)he has to have 120 credits.

Table 6

Besides the compulsory courses, students must choose elective courses (a minimum of four). (S)he can choose from Singing choir (in all semesters) or Collegium musicum and Music practicum (in all semesters). The total hours for each course is 90 per semester (2 hours per week). In order to meet all requirements, a student must also choose a minimum of three free elective courses. (S)he can decide whether to become a part of University ensemble Mladosť or to attend Practicum in theory of music. Each of these courses are taught in all semesters 2 hours per week (total 90 hours per semester in each course).(Univerzita Mateja Bela v Banskej Bystrici, Pedagogická fakulta UMB, 2017, p. 148 – 149) Master program are designed similarly.

Table 7

To comply with these requirements, the student attends at least four compulsory elective music courses. (S)he chooses between Collegium musicum and concert preparation and Singing choir. Each of them is taught every semester for 2 hours per week (total 90 hours per semester). In the second year, also Music workshops, Vocal concert of graduates or Instrumental concert of graduates are offered with the same amount of hours. The free elective classes are University ensemble Mladosť, Creating final theses in both years of study and Music-pedagogical research in the second year. Again, each course is given for 2 hours per week (total 90 hours per semester).

3.3.2 Educating teachers for Conservatories If a student prepares for teaching practical classes at conservatories, (s)he must study at the university with artistic focus. In Slovakia, there are 3 universities that provide such education: Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU) in Bratislava, Academy of Arts (AU) in Banská Bystrica and Ján Albrecht Music and Art Academy Banská Štiavnica (HUAJA) in Banská Štiavnica. The graduates receive the Bachelor diploma after 3 years of study and the Mgr. art. (Master of arts) after 2 more years. Students can study performing arts, composition, and conducting. Besides the required courses for a professional musician (see 3.3.3), they must complete Additional pedagogical studies lasting 2 years. These programs might differ in the universities, therefore we describe the one at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. It is divided into three Modules, in which students attend courses of pedagogical, psychological, didactics and methodology focus. 1.Module I: Pedagogical-psychological module (total 90 hours) *School system, state educational programs *Theoretical models of learning and teaching *Educating children with special educational needs *Diagnostics and pupils evaluation *Psychological aspects of pupil´s development *Psychological aspects of creating social relationships in schools *Prevention of pupil´s problem behavior *Pedagogical communication 2.Module II: Specialized/subject-didactics module (total 50 hours + 40 hours of teaching praxis) *Projecting and realization of teaching particular subjects *Development of pupil´s key competencies in particular subjects *School educational program *Teacher’s self-reflection and self-evaluation *Creating learning materials and applying ICT in education *Praxis – 40 hours 3.Module III – subject-specialized module (total 20 hours) *Innovation in scientific field of particular subjects.(Akadémia umení v Banskej Bystrici, 2016, p. 18) In order to teach theoretical professional subjects at conservatories, students must complete their studies in the field of musicology. This is possible at the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University in Bratislava or Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (program Theory and Dramaturgy of Music) or at Ján Albrecht Music and Art Academy Banská Štiavnica in Banská Štiavnica (program Music Interpretation and Theory or Music and Theory). 3.3.3 Educating professional musicians – performing artists, conductors and composers Professional musicians are prepared for their artistic careers at the Faculties of music/performing arts at above mentioned three universities in Slovakia. Like at all programs, they must complete compulsory, compulsory elective and free elective courses. Some of them are common for all study programs, some of them differ depending on the instrument. Also, they might differ at the universities. We decided to list the courses at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica.

Table 8

Compulsory elective courses in Bachelor study programs include Foreign language – English or German (2 hours per week in each semester), Auditory analysis (1 hour per week in first 2 years) and Introduction to psychology of music (2 hours in the second semester). Free elective courses are listed in the following table.

Table 9 Table 10

Depending on the main field of studies, students attend more courses. For example, violinists must complete, besides the above mentioned, additional compulsory and compulsory elective courses. The only compulsory elective course is Studying the orchestral parts and sight-reading, which is taught 1 hour per week. Similarly, the master programs offer compulsory, compulsory elective and free elective courses common for or study programs, and for particular study fields. They are listed in the following tables.

Table 11

Compulsory elective courses for all students are The history of philosophy (1 hour per week) and Music aesthetic (2 hours per week) in each semester. For violinists, the school offers History and literature o the instrument (2 hour per week) and the Repertory studying with the piano accompaniment (1 hour per week) in each semester.

Table 12

4. Summary The music education in Slovakia is an inherent part of the school system. Pupils attend compulsory music classes in primary general education and they also have the opportunity to take extra music lessons at the Primary Art School. The preparation for a career of a professional musician – performing artist usually includes studies at the Conservatory and at the University with the artistic focus. In order to become a music teacher, a student has to get a diploma from a Conservatory or accomplish particular program at the University. Slovak music education reaches European standards, which is proven by many graduates performing or teaching in different European countries and in other continents.

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