Music Education in Slovenia

I. Political Framework. 2

II. School System and Structure. 3

III. Music Education in Schools. 8

IV. Music Curricula. 9

V. Critical Comment and Future Development 14

I. Political Framework

The Republic of Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy. The official language is Slovenian. In bilingual areas, that is in municipalities with Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities, Italian and Hungarian, respectively, are also official languages. Members of ethnic minorities have the right to education in their mother tongue. Roma are likewise granted special educational rights.

The Slovenian Constitution guarantees free education to all. Basic education is mandatory. The state is required to enable its citizens to obtain appropriate education.

The Ministry of Education and Sport is responsible for the implementation of education policy. Its prime responsibility is to enforce educational legislation. It has the authority to decide on administrative matters related to pre-school education, basic education, secondary general, technical and vocational education, higher vocational education (other higher education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology), education of children with special needs, music education, adult education, education of all ethnic minorities in Slovenia.

II. School System and Structure

The Slovenian education system consists of:

·      pre-school education,

·      basic education (single structure of primary and lower secondary education),

·      (upper) secondary education,

·      vocational and technical education,

·      secondary general education,

·      higher vocational education,

·      higher education.

Specific parts of the system:

·      adult education,

·      music and dance education,

·      special needs education,

·      modified programmes and programmes in ethnically and linguistically mixed areas.

Pre-school education

Pre-school education, offered by pre-school institutions, is not compulsory and is available for children between the ages of 1 and 6. The curriculum is divided into two cycles (from age 1-3 and from age 3-6). The new curriculum promotes different types of programme such as: day, half-day and short programmes. There is also the possibility of childminders, pre-school education at home or occasional care of children in their homes. The curriculum for pre-school institutions defines six areas of activities: movement, language, art, nature, society and mathematics. The goals set in individual fields of activities provide the framework for the selection of contents and activities by teachers.

Basic (Primary) Education (compulsory / age 6-14)

Basic education was extended from eight years to nine. This was done gradually. The implementation of the nine-year basic education began in the 1999/2000 school year. Children that reach the age of 6 in a particular calendar year enter the first class in that year.

Nine-year basic education is divided into 3 three-year cycles. Elementary schools provide compulsory and an extended curriculum. The compulsory curriculum must be provided by all schools and is studied by all pupils. It consists of compulsory subjects, electives, home-room periods and activity days (culture, science, sports, technology). The optional elementary school curriculum must be provided by school but pupils are free to decide whether they will participate in it or not. It includes educational assistance for children with special needs, remedial classes, additional classes, after-school care and other forms of care for pupils, interest activities and out-of-school classes.

Successful completion of basic education enables pupils to proceed to education in their choice of secondary school. Pupils who fulfil the legal compulsory education requirement and successfully complete at least seven classes in the nine-year elementary school can continue their education in a short-term vocational education programme. Success at that level opens doors to other more demanding secondary school programmes.

Elementary school activities include the compulsory curriculum and also voluntary extra curricular activities. The compulsory curriculum comprises compulsory subjects and compulsory subject options along with discussion periods, during which pupils discuss with their class teacher different issues that concern their life and work. Extra curricular activities consist of before and after-school classes and other forms of pupils' care, supplementary lessons, additional lessons, interest activities and out-of-school classes. In after-school classes pupils study, complete their homework and participate in cultural or artistic activities and sports.

Most classes are single-grade classes and include children of the same age. In smaller schools there are also multi-grade classes that combine pupils of different age. Pupils of one or several classes can be divided into smaller study groups. When selecting teaching methods in relation to the organisation of work, teachers can differentiate their work according to the ability of their pupils. The most common is internal differentiation, although some subjects allow flexible differentiation. With parents' consent teachers have a statutory right to organise a part of their lessons by: dividing their pupils into various study groups; applying a team teaching approach; applying ability grouping; or by a combination of all these forms.
The size of classes and groups is specified in the Standards and norms for the provision of elementary education. The upper limit stands at 28 pupils per class. The requirements for classes which include children with special needs or Roma pupils are lower.

In the first cycle (grades 1-3) all or most of the subjects are taught by general class teachers. Half of the lessons in the first grade of the elementary school are assisted by the pre-school teacher. During the second cycle (grades 4-6) specialist teachers become more and more involved in the teaching process. In the third cycle (grades 7‑9) lessons are taught solely by specialist teachers. Where deemed necessary, teachers specialised for work with children with special needs and language specialists may also take part in teaching (

The compulsory elementary school curriculum is based on several national curricular documents which were prepared and adopted by the National Curricular Council and the Council of Experts for general education of the Republic of Slovenia (1998-2006) and were launched by Ministerial decrees, and issued in accordance with the Elementary School Act. The Act specifies which school subjects are compulsory.

Elementary schools have a statutory duty to offer a list of subjects as options pupils must choose in the higher grades. Schools are autonomous only to some extent in the selection of optional subjects. There is a statutory requirement that a certain number of social sciences / humanistic subjects and natural sciences / technical subjects, a second foreign language, non-confessional religious education and rhetoric lessons must be on offer. Pupils must take at least two of the optional subjects.

National curricular documents consist of the syllabus for the 9-year elementary school, national subject curriculum for compulsory and optional subjects along with the definitions of cross curricular content (e.g. how to use libraries and information technologies), extra-curricular activities, after-school classes and other forms of day-care, out of school classes, as well as lists of approved text books and learning materials and other documents concerning the protection of rights of pupils, parents and teachers. The national subject curricula include general aims, objectives and core contents of the subject, didactic principles and recommendations and knowledge standards. The basic knowledge standards specify what pupils should be able to demonstrate, know, understand and be able to evaluate at the end of the lessons.

(Upper) Secondary Education (optional / age 15-18)

Secondary education follows the compulsory general basic education. Secondary schools include vocational and technical schools preparing students predominantly for labour and general secondary schools (“gimnazije”) preparing students predominantly for further studies. Programmes in secondary education vary in content, duration and goals.

General Secondary Education

General secondary school preparing students for further studies is called “gimnazija”. “Gimnazija” programmes are divided into two groups: general and professionally oriented (technical “gimnazija”). It lasts four years. It ends with an external examination called the “matura” examination. Those “gimnazija” students who for various reasons do not wish to continue their education may enter the labour market by attending a vocational course and gaining a qualification in their selected occupation.

The aim of vocational courses is to provide a bridge between general and vocational education and to make it possible for graduates from general, classical, and technical “gimnazije” to obtain initial vocational qualifications at the level of corresponding secondary vocational and technical schools. Educational aims are the same as for vocational and technical education. The course leads to a vocational qualification needed in the labour market or for further studies at higher vocational and professional colleges.

Secondary Vocational and Technical Education

The planning, programming and provision of vocational education is a joint responsibility of social partners (employers and trade unions) and the state. Common aims and goals of secondary vocational and technical education were defined in a common curricular document. This document stresses attainment targets in interdisciplinary fields and interest activities.

Short-term vocational programmes should last a year and a half for students and apprentices that have completed their basic education, and two and a half years for those without completed basic education. They finish with a final examination. The certificate of the final examination enables students to enter the labour market or to enter the first year at any other (upper) secondary vocational school.

Pupils who have successfully completed elementary school can enrol in 3-year secondary vocational programmes. Vocational education programmes are offered in the dual: That is the apprenticeship system and/or in the school-based system.

The core curriculum is common to all programmes and includes a minimal coverage of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills specified by occupational standards and required for a certain vocational qualification, regardless of the type of educational provision.

Practical training in the framework of the dual system is offered by employers. Programmes also specify the part of practical training that can be provided by schools and/or inter-company centres as practical instruction.

The certificate of the final examination enables students to enter the labour market or to continue education in two-year vocational-technical programmes, leading to a qualification at the level of a secondary technical school. Vocational-technical programmes are developed as upgrade of vocational education. The aims of vocational-technical programmes are the same as those of technical education programmes and lead to educational qualifications at the level of secondary technical school, also called a technical qualification, in a specific field.

On the other hand, graduates who find a job immediately after completing a three-year vocational programme can re-enter education after at least three years of employment to obtain a qualification at the level of a secondary technical school by passing examinations. By passing an examination for master craftsman, foreman or shop manager, they demonstrate a higher level of competence in their occupation. If they additionally pass examinations in the general subjects of the vocational “matura” examination, they can continue their studies in higher vocational education.

Technical education is designed primarily as preparation for vocational and professional colleges, although it also leads to jobs with a broad profile. Secondary technical programmes last four years, which end with the vocational “matura” examination.

Music and Dance Education

The Music School Act (2000) reformed basic music and dance education offered by state and private music schools. Music schools offer education for pre-school children, elementary school pupils, secondary school students, apprentices, college students and adults. Most often, music and dance education is given in parallel to compulsory basic education. Having completed elementary and music schools, pupils can follow the same model at the secondary school level or opt for art “gimnazija”. The curriculum is fully compatible with European guidelines.

Special significance is given to the participation of pupils in school string or brass orchestras (each public music school is required to have at least one orchestra). Extra lessons may be given to gifted pupils. Folk instruments have been newly introduced (zither, diatonic accordion and tambour). Public music schools are also required to offer pre-school music education for pre-school children, see here for more information.

III. Music Education in Schools

Primary Schools

Music in the nine-year-primary-school curriculum is planned by goal and process development. Basic music activities are: performing, creating and listening. Achievements in the three basic areas of music education are shown in and through the learning/understanding of the chosen musical structures and in development of musical ability, skills and informative knowledge, as determined in the syllabus for different classes.

A compulsory part of the cultural life of every primary school is the school choir for which a syllabus has been introduced in the framework of an extended programme. In independent primary schools there are six hours a week dedicated to work with one-, two- or three-part choirs, while in subsidiary schools (dislocated units of central schools), four hours a week are dedicated to one- or two-part choirs.

Secondary Schools

In the first year at secondary schools (called “gimnazija”) music is an independent subject and is allocated 70 hours (52 as a compulsory subject and 18 as a chosen subject). In higher classes music has the status of chosen subject with three modules: Musical language, world music culture and Slovenian music culture. Each grammar school should have at least one choir (girls, boys or mixed). The syllabus for an extended programme consists of four hours a week with the choir.

The music curriculum at secondary schools is also planned by goal and process development. It also included basic activities: performing, creating and listening and thematic-informative and musical-artistic content.

A talented pupil, who at primary level passed music schools, can continue their music education at art secondary schools (art “gimnazija”). Here they have a three-module syllabus:

·      Module a: music clause,

·      Module b: singing, instrument,

·      Module c: jazz, popular music.

Education in music at art grammar school also lasts four years.

IV. Music Curricula

Music education in primary school provides pupils with the basic experience necessary for a selective and active approach to music offered by the media and musical events; for taking part in choirs and other musical activities; for further education which stimulates a deeper interest in music or in a study or profession involving music. Musical life at school must go hand in hand with a comprehensive cultural atmosphere and form a healthy sound environment. With its openness and sound language, music education brings a different, relaxed communication into school work.

Its’ complex array of activities and contents contribute to general and musical development of pupils. The nature of music education enables affective, psychomotor, cognitive, aesthetic and psychosocial development. Thus, the principal musical activities (performing, creating and listening) which are carried out are connected to pupil’s musical development abilities. The nature of music itself requires the use of active and diverse methods and forms of work.


Operative goals by individual cycles



Compulsory music hours per week

Chosen subject (h)

From games and musical experience to music proficiency













From musical proficiency to understanding the basic expressive elements, characteristics and music-cultural environments













From musical proficiency to understanding music and its development













Table 1: Hours per week of music by class in the 9-year primary school


The syllabus for music has, in addition to the operative aims for the three basic activities in each class, both thematic-informative and musical-artistic content. Table 1 shows how music can be a chosen subject in the last three years. This will consist of four modules: Playing in groups, musical works, musical projects and keyboard and ICT.





·      Singing songs, and other musical contents.(songs, instrumental music, rhythmic texts)

·      Playing instruments (improvised, folk and Orff instruments, electronic instruments)

·      Rhythmic articulation of texts

·      Creating and co-creating musical contents (improvisation, composition of accompaniments and simple musical forms)

·      Interpretation of vocal, instrumental and vocal-instrumental works

·      Creative expression of musical experience and ideas through other media (art, dance and words)

·      Experiencing, analysing and combined listening of a selection of musical works of all styles and genres in vocal, instrumental and vocal-instrumental music

Table 2: Basic music activities in the 9-year primary school

Music education is carried out through a complex of performing, listening and creating activities. These activities give a pupil musical experience which forms the basis for the development of his/her abilities, skills and knowledge.


Performing, which involves singing, playing instruments, rhythmical articulation of text and expression through movement, is a key musical activity that enables development of musical abilities and skills. By performing, pupils gradually develop interest in and positive fillings towards music and internalise musical values. Based on this they acquire musical experience, form musical conceptions and improve the quality of their performing.

The aim of performing is experiencing and aesthetical performance of musical contents. Pupils’ accuracy in rhythm and pitch improve, as does their ability to interpret a song. Thus, creating is interconnected with creativity which is shown in the expression of the experienced musical contents. Performing experience leads to a deeper experiencing and apprehension of musical parameters of expression and form.

In the same way as singing, playing instruments also deepens the experiencing and apprehension of musical parameters. Playing instruments (children’s folk, improvised, Orff instruments) stimulates the development of musical and motor abilities, as well as performing skills. By playing improvised or written (bordun, ostinato, etc) musical accompaniments, pupils discover the main musical concepts, including pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, form etc.


The objectives of listening activities underline the development of active listener, capable of choosing, on the basis of different cultural needs, among different musical programmes and contents, and discovering their artistic value. The teacher selects a program which stimulates pupils’ attentive and focused perception. The selection of compositions includes examples of absolute and programme music, different ensembles, types and genres of music. The listening procedure includes proper motivation, an adequate duration of perceptive attention and feedback which is creatively expressed by pupils. Such a procedure prevents passiveness and introduces pupils to the treasury of musical works. In a guided learning process pupils develop their attention and sensitivity for sound environment, memory, aesthetic perception and evaluation of music, and the ability of a creative interaction with a musical work. In selecting the examples for listening activities the teacher has to take into account the artistic value of works, heterogeneity of different periods and environments, as well as pupils’ musical development characteristics. Listening to a composition, pupils identify and analyse whether it is vocal or instrumental, the individual voices, instruments, ensembles, tempo, dynamics, melody, form. However, it is important that an artistic work is never only subject to analytical objectives but is always dealt with in the context of aesthetic experience.


Creativity as an active learning method is developed in all musical activities involving new musical experience and knowledge. Through this creative learning method pupils discover the rules of musical language (develop musical abilities, skills and knowledge) and establish a polyaesthetic communication.

Creative achievements, in which pupils express their perceptions and (re)formation of musical material, include: creation of musical contents (songs, rhythmical texts, accompaniments, etc.); aesthetic interpretation of a song, instrumental contents, etc.; creative expression of musical experience and concepts through other media (art, words, moves). With creative activities pupils develop their musical thinking and establish a creative attitude towards music. Creating at all levels and directions of music education is indispensable, as it helps establishing an emotive and critical attitude towards the learning environment.

Expected Learning Outcomes (first cycle / class 1-3)


·      can sing, in group or individually, (approximately thirty) folk and authorial songs, according to their individual abilities and in different manners (in unison or with instrumental accompaniment);

·      know rhythmical texts (riddles, children’s poetry etc.);

·      repeat melodic and rhythmical motifs according to their individual abilities;

·      play accompaniments to songs and short compositions for instruments (body percussion, Orff instruments, improvised instruments, children’s folk instruments);

·      recognise the pieces and instruments they listen to by the sound colour;

·      distinguish among the sound colours of different instruments and singing voices;

·      distinguish between sounds, tones and silence;

·      understand concepts such as loud-quiet, fast-slow, higher-lower tones;

·      can identify a melody and contents such as march, lullaby, musical fairy tale;

·      distinguish between the work of composers and performers: singers, choir, choral conductor, orchestra, conductor;

·      use the term “composition” and can read basic symbolic notations.

Expected Learning Outcomes (second cycle / class 1-3)


·      sing repertoire of Slovenian and foreign folk and authorial songs (approximately 25);

·      sing the songs individually or in groups, in unison or in parts;

·      play accompaniments and compositions for Orff instruments;

·      are familiar with a repertoire of compositions by Slovenian and foreign authors;

·      distinguish between vocal, instrumental and vocal-instrumental music;

·      can identify individual singing voices, instruments and groups of instruments;

·      know certain ensembles: youth and adult choirs, other vocal ensembles (octet), soloists, instrumental ensembles (trio, quartet), orchestras;

·      know about the work of composers and performers;

·      know that music is composed of parts (motif, theme) and that there are different compositional forms (sonata, suite, concert, opera, ballet);

·      know the basics of notation (the system of determining the pitch and duration, time signatures);

·      understand the meaning of scales and distinguish between major and minor;

·      distinguish between absolute and programme music;

·      distinguish between different types and genres of music.

Expected Learning Outcomes (third cycle / class 6-9)


·      sing a certain repertoire of Slovenian and foreign folk and authorial songs;

·      know a certain repertoire of accompaniments and compositions for Orff instruments;

·      know vocal, instrumental and vocal-instrumental compositions of different forms and contents;

·      know the basics of the development of music and of contemporary musical reality in Slovenia and worldwide; they can name classical music styles;

·      know a few Slovenian and foreign composers of individual styles and some contemporary musicians;

·      know different styles and genres of music (folk and authorial music, music for theatre and film, dance music, jazz, pop music);

·      know the names of compositional forms;

·      distinguish between absolute and programme music.

For more information see here.

V. Critical Comment and Future Development

The process of the curriculum modernisation has been going on at all undergraduate levels of the education system since 2007. Currently, the process involves the primary school and the grammar school.

The reasons for modernisation originate in the need for constant monitoring, modernisation and development of the curriculum, and in the fact that the school system needs to respond to the needs of modern society, in which a constant modernisation of learning and teaching and development of the possibility of life-long learning are imperatives.

The Ministry of Education and Sports established expert bodies, composed by representatives of The National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, primary-school and grammar-school teachers and representatives of faculties. They cooperate in preparation and implementation of novelties into the existing curricula and catalogues of knowledge for general education schools and general education knowledge in vocational training.

The strategies, principles and objectives of modernization point out:

·      flexibility of the learning process (openness and possibility of selection, flexible schedule, individualization, etc.);

·      a holistic and global approach to learning and teaching (learning at the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor areas of development and meta cognition);

·      pupils’ competence (critical thinking, creativity, showing initiatives, solving problems, risk assessment, taking decisions, constructive control of emotions);

·      autonomy of teachers and pupils;

·      learning-objective, process-development teaching model;

·      quality of knowledge;

·      development of pupils’ achievements and of their metacognitive abilities;

·      making connections among different subjects and disciplines;

·      ICT knowledge.