Music Teacher Training in Sweden
In Sweden Music teacher training is offered in Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö, Örebro, Piteå and Arvika. All Music teacher training institutions belong to the local or regional university except “Kungliga Musikhögskolan” in Stockholm, which is an independent university college. Since 2001, Music teacher training has been part of general teacher training and every future teacher has a so-called general education area (90 ECTS) in common. The teacher exam is at Bachelor level.
The number of students in one generation of teacher education, with music as a main subject area, is about 250 students. The quota of taught hours for all of the subjects differs a lot between different courses, but is approximately 15-20 hours a week. The normal duration of the programme for teaching at primary and secondary school is 4.5 years.
Teaching degrees in Sweden consist of three components: general education, the subject area, and specialisations.
The General education area (“Allmänt utbildningsområde”), also called professional orientation, is mandatory for all students wishing to attain a teaching degree. On the one hand this area encompasses common central areas of knowledge like socialisation and development, teaching/learning, special needs education, ICT, and issues related to the common national values of the Swedish society and schools. On the other hand about half of the study time is interdisciplinary. The General education area also includes a period of teaching practice (15 ECTS) and a degree project/examination work (15 ECTS). The degree project is undertaken during the final semester of the programme and the content is dependent on the student’s choice of professional career.
Subject areas or orientation areas (“Inriktning”) can be made up of 60, 90 or 120 ECTS and includes at least 15 ECTS teaching practice at a school. This area may correspond to school subjects, themes or inter-disciplinary issues of relevance for the age groups and school forms chosen by the student. The student selects one or two subject areas. Most of the music teacher students just have music as their subject area. The studies can start in the autumn or spring semester and can be full or part time. Many of the students entering the course come to school with expertise in Afro-American music. There are many opportunities to continue with this focus, but there is, nevertheless, the possibility to focus on classical music.
A Specialisation (“Specialisering”) comprising of at least 30 ECTS is a prerequisite for a teaching degree. By combining courses, a student can specialise in a certain area. The specialisation can consist of in-depth studies, new perspectives and/or formation within one of the teacher training programme’s orientations. Almost every music teacher student prefers to become a one subject teacher and use the specialisation for in-depth instrumental ensemble studies. The student can study within the area of his/her specialisation for a semester at a foreign university.
The student can either choose to begin his/her studies in the general education area or in a particular discipline. The student makes this choice while applying for admittance to the teaching degree programme. The student chooses an individual pathway during his/her first semester and they have a lot of choices in their subject areas. This allows the student to coordinate and prioritise courses given within the programme’s different components. This also means that students are given the opportunity to influence their own particular teaching profile. Some institutions offer more choices than others.
In order to teach at a the lower age groups of primary school (age 7-12), a teaching degree should consist of 270 ECTS with two subject areas where at least one is worth 90 ECTS. In most of the Swedish teacher education programmes, music as a subject area can not be selected for the lower level of compulsory school. For teaching in lower secondary school (age 13-15), music can be selected as a subject area.
Graph 1: Number of credits (ECTS) in teacher education for lower secondary school with music as one subject area.
In order to teach at a secondary school (age 16-19) a teaching degree should consist of 270-330 ECTS, with two subject areas, where both comprise at least 90 ECTS. In the same way as for primary school, the teaching degree also includes the general teaching area (90 ECTS) as well as at least one specialization (30 ECTS). Below is an example of how the credits could be distributed in Music teacher training aiming at teaching in upper secondary school (Gymnasium).
Graph 2: Number of credits (ECTS) in teacher education for upper secondary school with music as one subject area.
The Music teacher training studies are, to a high degree, characterised by the free choices by the students. Instruction is provided in the form of courses, mostly combined into programmes. The main focus of the training programmes is instrumental/vocal training, music theory, conducting, music in the classroom, pedagogy and methodology. This is not prescribed or described by anyone but the board of the individual school. Below is an example from Luleå University of Technology indicating how 120 ECTS (90+30) in music could be distributed.
Graph 3: The break down of music courses (120 ECTS).
The basic music course is given at the Department of Music and Media and consists of the following elements worth 1-3 ECTS each: digital music technology, ear training, form theory, chord instrument, vocal training, choir, presentation techniques, music history, rhythmic education, ensemble and conducting. There are also a huge number of music related courses as optional studies. Most of the teacher practice comes at the end of the programme.
One underlying principle is that all teacher education students have the right to choose between different research orientations and/or doctoral programmes after having received their diploma. Teacher education thus qualifies as a postgraduate study. It is also understood that all departments that take part in teacher education must carry out research and, if located at universities, also have PhD programmes directly related to teacher education and teacher work. This means a broadening of the research base of teacher education and teacher work.
The current situation for Swedish Music teacher training is characterised by a will to carry out music courses more in line with other more traditional university studies. ICT and different kinds of teaching technology are implemented to a high degree in the study environment. Even in instrument/singing courses, students have to study science theory and research methods and write an essay where they make comments and reflect on their artistic work. The following is an example from the syllabus of a 90 credit music course at Luleå University of Technology.
The course aim is that the student, from an artistic view, will deepen his/her own ability of musical interpretation, musical communication and knowledge in their main subject. The studies are based on the student's own experience and work and are thus aimed at developing the practice based experience to a reflective and communicative level. These deepened qualities are achieved by the artistic components of the main instrument, with a reflection on one's own research process and knowledge development, and with an understanding of scientific research methods. The student will independently write and defend an artistic/scientific 15 credit work. The examination work must be documented in audio form (CD, recordings etc.) and written text (essay).The documentation will be presented at an open seminar with discussion. The examination is marked by the examiner, based on the work as a whole, and by the scientific and artistic supervisor’s assessment. The student's own written self-evaluation is also included as part of the assessment.
The entrance examination includes tests of musical skills and the students must pass a number of examinations to receive their teacher diplomas. Every single course has its own examination procedure. The teachers for primary and secondary schools are fully qualified after they have passed all elements in the program (270 ECTS) and other requirements, laid down by the ministry of education. The diploma awarded upon completion of the teacher education programme shows the graduate’s specialisation and status of qualification.
For the moment, Swedish Music teacher training is undergoing great changes in the process of adapting to the Bologna-model. At the end of 2008 a decision about a new teacher training program is expected and it will take at least three years to implement. One challenge for Music teacher training in this process is to break with the so called conservatory tradition, without losing too many of the qualities related to music knowledge and instrumental skills. Another challenge is to get the students and teachers to realise that they belong to a university. This means among other things that they are expected to work independently and take responsibility for their teaching and learning process. A third problematic area in the history of Swedish Music teacher training is the low status of classroom music teachers. The Music teacher training students to a high degree prefer to work as instrument teachers at municipal music and cultural schools or folk high schools. They look forward to one-to-one or small group teaching with pupils with a certain interest and talent in music. How to change this predominant discourse in Swedish schools of music is not at all easy and will not succeed without powerful political decisions.