Music Teacher Training in Spain

I. Background / Organisation

II. Curriculum

III. Learning and Teaching Approaches

IV. Assessment / Examination

V. Current and Future Challenges

I. Background / Organisation

Music teacher training in Spain is only provided for primary school teachers. Secondary school teachers are not trained in music education at all. These music teachers are traditionally musicologists (who studied musicology at university) or instrumentalists (who studied an instrument at conservatory). In Spain any person who has graduated in any field (philology, physics, biology, history, pharmacy etc) can actually teach music at the secondary school. The only requirements for teaching music at the public school are that one must have graduated in any field and have passed a central examination (“oposición”) in one of the “Comunidades Autónomas. The majority of this exam is related with the history of Western Classical Music[1].

Primary school Music teacher training has existed since the 1990s and takes place in universities (Departments of Music Education at the Faculties of Education). The introduction of the new title of Music teacher training for primary school (“Maestro en Educación Musical”) into the Spanish university was seen by the main social groups – parties, universities, trade unions and educationalist – as a complete success at that time. This was in spite of some serious concerns about the large number of students in each generation[2] and the fact that there is no specific entrance exam for music and no individual instrumental or singing classes. Unfortunately the degree is to have only a short life: because of the interpretation of the Declaration of Bologna Spain has meant that, from 2010, the Music teacher training primary school specialists will be replaced by teacher training for generalists (“Maestro en Educación Primaria”).

This specialist degree course, lasting three years, provides students with music abilities, skills, and knowledge, as well as the appropriate music-didactics, pedagogical and psychological knowledge for their work with pupils in classes 1-6 (6 to 12 years old). From the 7th class, the music education on offer varies widely depending on what teachers have really studied and on the pedagogical and didactical training they have obtained (or not) on their own. Although the majority of these teachers have knowledge of music, the absence of specific pedagogical abilities in music teaching is a common feature.

II. Curriculum

The current degree in Music teacher training will disappear in Spain by 2010. Professors and lecturers of this field all over the country are very disappointed with this political decision. It is not clear yet in which way music will be integrated in the future degree for generalists, or whether it will be part of the training at all. Many universities are working at the moment on this issue. Presently, none of them have yet implemented a new curriculum. Because of this we will consider here the current situation for Music teacher training in primary school which is not still thought in terms of ECTS[3].


Subject field




Artistic subjects

Guitar, Recorder, Orff instruments, Instrumental group play, Vocal group singing, Choral conducting, Rhythmic education



Singing workshop, Choir



Music theory and history

Music theory (solfeggio), Vocal and aural training, History of western music*, History of Spanish folklore*



Music-forms analysis, Multimedia (music and computer science) & Music for the film, Music acoustics, Introduction to the orchestral music



Pedagogical subjects

Music didactics (for the primary school), Teaching practice at school



Construction of scholar musical instruments




* This two fields are taught by musicologists and they do not have any didactic orientation at all. The rest of the subjects are teaching by lectures of the Department of Music Education, who always try to offer to their students a vision related to the school. So the repertoire to be sung or played is usually related to the interests of the young persons, the presentation of the main music-forms has also a didactic orientation for the school etc.

The number of teaching hours is as follows:

·      Artistic/Musical field: about 250 hours (+ 105 hours optional);

·      Music Theory and Music History field: about170 hours (+ 120 hours optional);

·      Pedagogical/Teaching field: about 300 hours;

·      Students teaching practice in school: about 120 hours (as a first contact with the school) plus about 200 hours (with a music teacher supervisor, in most cases but not always).



Hours / obligatory

Hours / optional

Artistic and musical skills



Music theory and music history



Pedagogical skills



Research approach[4]



Teaching practice





III. Learning and Teaching Approaches

A Music teacher training degree includes different teaching and learning approaches. Because of the huge amount of students in some universities, lectures are the common way to teach, but these lectures usually combine theoretical aspects with music making. The big group is occasionally divided in smaller subgroups in order to make practicable workshops or music-pedagogy practise. Portfolio and e-learning are not used often. Individual instrumental or singing classes do not exist.

Students can really only develop their teaching skills in the last of the six semesters, when they go to school. Here contact with the reality of school is close and intense. There they are supervised by a music teacher in coordination with a lecturer from the university, so students have the possibility to observe, to participate actively as a teacher and to compare their ideas with supervisors and other colleagues.

The use of the teaching technology differs from subject to subject. In general, new technologies are used mainly as a teaching and studying tool, with few possibilities to learn how to use music software in the classroom, although some universities offer extra courses for this.

IV. Assessment / Examination

A specific entrance exam for Music teacher training is not allowed at Spanish universities. Candidates are only required to pass the general university entrance examination. As such, it is impossible to test knowledge of music, musical abilities or pedagogical attitudes in advance of the course. Many candidates who obtain a place at university but have never sung or played an instrument. Conversely, in the first semester there are students who simultaneously study one or more instruments at the Conservatory (“Conservatorio de Música”) and some of them even at the Music High School (“Conservatorio Superior de Música”).

Students’ progress is assessed in each field mainly through examinations. Criteria for assessment are developed inside the course separately for every particular seminar. In some cases lectures negotiate with their students the form of the exam, especially in those subjects that are more theoretical but in the most part of the cases the subject determines the form of the exam (written, practical, oral, aural, combined exam etc). Teaching competence is assessed both by lectures and by school teachers.

There is no final examination at the end of the six semester course. A student is considered “competent for teaching”, when he or she has passed every examination set. This means that graduates who find a vacancy can immediately get a job in a private school. Those who wish to work in a public school have to pass a central examination (“oposición”) in one of the Autonomous Communities. These competitive exams or “oposiciones” are usually announced every two years. After a student passes the exam, they must work for one year as a trainee teacher and after an assessment by the local administration they acquire the status of civil servant.

V. Current and Future Challenges

There is great concern about many of the changes that have been proposed. Many educators believe that, in order to improve the current status and to achieve a »real convergence« in music education in the frame of the European Space for High Education following the Declaration of Bologna, Spain has to consider the following seriously:

·      The current degree in Music teacher training aimed at music specialists for primary school (classes 1 to 6) should\not disappear at all, is planned by the year 2010. There is no pedagogical reason for this political decision.

·      It is very important to test the musical abilities of students who wish to enter the course and introduce an entrance exam similar to that one that already exists in the many European countries.

·      It is urgent that Spanish universities plan a degree (Bachelor and Master) in Music teacher training for the secondary school (classes 7 to 12) similar to those that for years have already existed elsewhere in Europe. This degree should have nothing to do with the current degree in musicology (not aimed to the school) and should be in the hands of the Departments of Music Education of the Faculties of Education.

·      Neither musical pedagogy nor music didactic can be seen as an applied musicology. Music education is an independent scientific field with the mission to contribute to the improvement of the quality of the lives of all European citizens through music. These aims are both theoretical and practical as well.

·      Professors and lectures who are teaching in the field of music education ought to research in this field as well. It does not make sense, that this research is not linked with the improvement of the quality of the music education at the different levels of the current Spanish educational system (from kindergarten to university). That means, many lectures must change their minds about the way music education is understood nowadays in a European context.

·      In order to become more professional, free and independent, professional activity of the members of the Departments of Music Education should be assessed by members of the same field and not by others who do not work explicitly in music education such as musicologists and general educationalists.

·      It is necessary for our discipline to be open-minded, to look at the current international contributions and to work closely with other universities in a European dimension.[5]


[1] For further information can be seen the Spanish Official Bulletin of 24th of March of 2008

[2] Above one hundred in many universities (e.g. 120 new students for Music teacher training at the University of Granada).

[3] As an example the University of Granada will be taken here. Other Spanish Universities offer very similar curricula.

[4] Not provided in the curriculum. Little researches by students are possible depending on the lecturer but that is not a general rule.

[5] meNet ist a good example of this.