Poland National Overview

Updated in June 2018 by Maria Brzuchowska, Specialist for International Relations at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław.

Overview of Higher Music Education System

Professional music training in Poland is offered on several levels. The education starts at age of 6 in music elementary school (six years), Gymnasium (three years) and Lyceum (three years). Transformation of this system into eight-year primary school and four-year lyceum is being considered (2016), but altogether it takes twelve years until the start of the higher education cycle. There are about 440 music schools of lower stage.

Total number of institutions
Only defined fields of study accredited by the State Accreditation Comission may be taught in HE institutions in Poland. In music these are:
  1. Conducting
  2. Composition and theory of music
  3. Instrumental performance
  4. Vocal performance
  5. Sound direction
  6. Artistic education in music art
  7. Jazz and stage music
  8. Musicology
  9. Dance

Fields of study listed 1-5 are taught only in the eight (music academies): The Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, the Academy of Music in Kraków, the Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk, the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź, the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań, the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warszawa and the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wroclaw.

Musicology is taught in faculties of four other Universities (Warsaw University/ History Faculty; Wrocław University/ History and Pedagogy science Faculty; Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań / History Faculty; John Paul the 2nd Catholic University in Lublin / Teology Faculty). Artistic education in music art is accredited in more than twenty HE institutions, including the eight music HE institutions. Jazz and stage music is taught in six HE institutions – in three Academies of Music and in faculties of three other institutions, both state and private. Dance is accredited in 3 HE Institutions.

Total number of music students
Approximately 5.000
In Wroclaw there are 377 1st cycle students and 292 2nd cycle students, with a total of 669 students.
Music Academies belong to the public sector of the country. They are government-funded through the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. They receive money from private institutions and different kind of social foundations.
Curricula for professional music training are controlled by the State: One-third of each curriculum is determined as core curriculum.
Genres are defined to certain degree by the accredited field of study’s programme frames. The programmes of instrumental and vocal performance may include early music, musical, or a folk instrument like the Fidel in the Kraków Academy of Music. The amount of improvisation and harmony taught in “Jazz an stage music” defines it as the jazz-based profile, be it modern, traditonal or fusion/electric/jazz-rock. On request the students may be supervised in taking inspiration from other styles, e.g. electric folk. However, since none musical formal education is a prerequisite for admission to the music HE institution in Poland, the question is raised that addressing genres, which do not require the knowledge of harmony or the skill of improvisation, could result in an uncontrolled lowering of a graduate‘s competences.
2-cycle system As required by the Government regulation, the two cycle system with the duration for the first cycle of three years and for second cycle of two years has been implemented in all the music academies in Poland.
1st cycle: Bachelor degree
2nd cycle: Master degree
3rd cycle: Doctor degree
Entry requirements 1st cycle
In all music academies, applicant students must pass a successful audition.
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
In all music academies, applicant students must pass a successful audition.
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle 97%
3rd cycle
In the Academies of Music, the artistic research is reflected in the publication of monographical works, handbooks, thematic and problematic works as well as publishing series, issued by the Publishing House of each Academy. Artistic research is also incorporated, to varying degree, in the doctoral studies curricula.
In the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warszawa further scientific research is conducted in the psychology and theory of music, theory of music pedagogy and musical upbringing, instrumental study, acoustics and musical phoniatrics.
Credit point system
All the eight institutions make use of a credit points system, which is compatible and adjusted to the international ECTS system standards.
Out of 395 HE institutions accredited in Poland 305 have the Erasmus charter (2016), the rate for the eight music academies being 100% in this respect. Apart from Erasmus+, the international cooperation may be supported by CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies) or local/municipal funding, e.g. ‘Visiting Professors’ , or ‘Masters in the Academy’ programmes of the city of Wrocław.
Quality assurance
The State Accreditation Committee (Państwowa Komisja Akredytacyjna – see www.pka.edu.pl) which is registered in the EQAR, is an independent state body responsible for checking the accordance of all activities of a higher education institution with the Polish higher education law (structure of the curricula in accordance with Ministry regulations, graduation procedures and documentation etc.). The accreditation process is public and nationally organized. External evaluation is used, but also internal initiatives are introduced, such as student questionnaires. The visiting experts are chosen from among the most experienced academic staff. Besides, the Conference of Polish Universities Rectors (KRUP) gathering main Polish Universities created the University Accreditation Commission (UKA). Moreover, the Conference of Polish Academic Schools Rectors (KRASP) has created eight ‘environmental’ accreditation commissions. Among these eight commissions is the Artistic School Accreditation Commission (AKUA) created by the Conference of Artistic Academies Rectors (KRUA) which is part of KRASP. Its task covers quality assurance in music, fine arts, and theatre higher education institutions. Similarly, the University Accreditation Commission is responsible for quality assurance in Polish Universities. These quality assurance commissions were created in 1997-2002. Accreditation takes place separately for each department every five years (or every two years if some reproaches are expressed). State accreditation is obligatory but the AKUA’s is not. Similarly, an academy may choose to undergo an additional accreditation review of an EQAR-registered commission other than PKA, e.g. the MusiQuE.
No feedback regarding the employability has been created yet. However, all the performer graduates are taught for music education in their major as well as the compulsory part of the curriculum.
The other professions are: conductor, composer, musicologist, music therapist, music critic, music teacher in general education (graduates of Music Education Departments), music publisher, presenter etc.
Academic Year The academic year lasts from 1st of October to the 30th of September the following year (30 weeks of tuition per year, end of tuition by the end of May). The study year is divided in two semesters: winter and summer semester. The entrance auditions are held in the fourth week of June which is the date prior to the entrance examination to the other higher education institutions such as Universities (which is the beginning of July).
Overview of the Pre-College Music Training System
There are several possibilities in Poland to be musically trained prior to entering higher education. It is possible to receive the complete general education programme together with high levelled music education; six years in the primary school, three years in the gymnasium and three years in the lyceum.

Types of Pre-College Education

Primary School of Music
Primary Schools of Music provide general education together with music education. Students must take an entrance exam to be able to enter. Primary Schools of Music use a six year curriculum and cater for students between 7 and 14 years of age. Children follow a regular general education curriculum, and receive instrumental/ vocal tuition and theory classes.
Music Lyceum (Liceum Muzyczne)
Music Lyceums provide general education together with high levelled music education. Students graduate from the Music Lyceum after three years of studying. They take a regular Lyceum general education Matura as well as a final examination of music, in accordance with the Act of the Ministry of Education. Graduates are able to study any topic in higher education, not only music.
Specialised Music Schools
Poland knows two Specialised Music Schools at secondary level (gymnasium and lyceum together) that provide general education and music education at a very high level to extremely talented students. These special schools are situated in Warsaw and Poznan.
Students come from all over the country and are selected through strict entrance examinations. They are 12 years of age when they enter these Specialised Music Schools and often stay in boarding schools.
Students receive a full general education together with music education.
Music Gymnasium
Music Gymnasia provide high level general education combined with music education. Students can enter Music Gymnasia from the age of 10 after passing an entrance examination. It is also possible to enter later.
Music Gymnasia aim to prepare students for higher music education as well as for any other study area. They follow a national curriculum including a full general education programme at the highest level and music related subjects, such as instrumental tuition (one-to-one), theory subjects and orchestra and ensemble lessons. Music Gymnasia focus on classical music.
Many graduates proceed to higher music education, but there also is a large amount of students who continue their education at Universities in other disciplines.
Music Gymnasia is financed by the municipality, do not charge tuition fees.
Music Schools of First and Second Grade Students that go to regular primary schools, gymnasia and lycea can take music lessons after school time at Music Schools. These Music Schools follow the general education system; there are Music Schools at primary level, called ‘Music Schools of First Grade’ (six years), and at secondary level, called ‘Music Schools of Second Grade’ (three + three years).

Following the education reform of 2017, a parallel system of 8-year Primary School of Music +4-year Music Lyceum is allowed in parallel.

Private Music Schools There are around 135 Private Music Schools that provide music education to children and youngsters. The number of Private Music Schools is growing.
Private tuition
There are private teachers who teach music outside of any institution. However, they mostly provide amateur training; hardly any students continue to higher music education.

Additional Information

The system described above is controlled by Center of Artistic Education (CEA, https://cea-art.pl/), where 349 public and 221 non-public music schools are registered as in the grid below. Of total of 570 schools, 454 schools have the rights of a public school and they apply the educational frames as defined by the Center of Artistic Education, where instrumental playing tuition is accompanied by courses supporting development of musical skills and knowledge.

Total of 570 music schools Controlled by: Minister of Culture and National Heritage Controlled by: Local government Controlled by: Legal person Controlled by: Foundation Controlled by: Association Controlled by: Private Person
Total 220 126 23 19 45 137
Primary with general education 23 18 4 1 2 2
Primary, music only 23 111 12 14 29 110
Secondary with general education 23 6 1 0 1 1
Secondary, music only 70 19 6 3 14 30

All schools have entrance examinations.
Higher music education institutions do not have pre-college departments or preparatory courses.

The state music schools at any level aim at preparing students for HME, and the private music schools mainly follw such professional focus. Music performance may be taught also in culture centers (local, education, municpal, etc.) where the approach is more free. There are also methodical networks (e.g. Yamaha – 113 schools in Poland, Suzuki – 6 centers in Poland), which by definition address the minor’s music education.
Music and Arts in General Education

Since 2017, the pre-college general education is being progressively changed form 6+3+3 (primary school + gymnasium + lycee) system to 8+4 (primary school + lycee) system.

In a system being faded out, in the primary school, years 4-6, pupils receive one lesson of music per week. In gymnasium, altogether 30 lessons of music (45 min each), and 60 lessons of fine arts is delivered throughout the three years of education. In lyceum (the last 3 years of 12-year pre-college education, started at the age of 15-16 years) no music is taught, only 60 lessons of fine arts altogether. Occasionally, the after-class activities may include performance on simple percussion instruments, block flute, or even guitar.

In the new system, one 45-minute lesson of music per week is to be taught in the years 4-7 of the 8-year primary school (30-33 lessons per year)

The project proposed for four-year secondary school envisages total of 30 hour tuition to be chosen between either music or history of music or history of art.

Students entering Higher Music Education
Most students come from Music Lycea, or Specialised Music Schools or from regular Music Schools.
Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level
There are competitions for talented students; prices include scholarships.

Overview of Music Teacher Education System

Music teacher training is offered within higher music education systems. A division is made between instrumental/vocal music teacher training, which is part of performance Bachelors and Masters, and training for music teachers in general education, which is a separate course of study

Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education

Instrumental/vocal music teacher education is offered in all eight Polish music academies, addressing the students of the Instrumental, Vocal, Composition, Conducting and Theory of Music Faculties. The module is compulsory and it is excluded from the curricula. However, its completion certificate is the mandatory prerequisite for employment as a teacher in any music education institution.
Once excluded from the core curriculum, the music teacher education module takes two years, with the content defined basically by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education Order of 17th of January 2012.
Classes include Psychology (at least 60 hours), Pedagogy (at least 60 hours), Teaching methodology (at least 120 hours), Voice projection (at least 30 hours), other subjects (at least 30 hours), Practical teaching training (at least 150 hours).
Genres Teaching methodology must be done for one’s own specialty, thus the music genres addressed in music teacher education are interconnected with the genres taught for music performance.
Internships in foreign music schools at time of studies or as recent graduate may be envisaged.
Employability Graduates receive the title of Bachelor or Master of Art in the field of instrumental performance, vocal performance, music therapy, composition, conducting etc.
Students may find employment in the various types of pre-college institutions described above, or as teachers in music academies. In Poland it is obligatory to have at least the title of Bachelor of art to be employed in first-level and secondary-level music schools or schools of general education.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Some music academies offer post-graduate study programmes.
There are special courses for artists or musicians who do not have the necessary qualification as music teachers. There are special governmental regulations concerning the ability to teach in the educational system. It is obligatory to complete the set of so called ‘teacher training subjects’ as described above. Nowadays, all these subjects are part of conservatoire curricula, but before (20 years ago) it was not compulsory.

Training for Music Teacher in General Education (primary and secondary school)

Institutions All eight music academies have a specific Faculty of Music Education, where future music teachers for general education are educated. There are ten Music Education Faculties in different Universities that offer training for music teachers In general education as well.
A three year Bachelor and a two year Master course. Within the study programme, a division is made between Music Education, Conducting of Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles, Church Music.
Classes vary per music academy, but could include methodology of music education, class observations and practical training at primary and middle general education schools and at first level schools of music.
After the speciality Music Education: This speciality prepares students for work in the general education system, specifically to teach the general education subject of ‘music’ and to conduct ensembles as well as to organise cultural events.
After the speciality Conducting of Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles: Graduates are qualified to work at music community centres, first-level music schools, and to manage vocal and instrumental ensembles.
After the speciality Church Music: Graduates are also prepared to work in church choirs, as accompanists to church singing and to run scholas.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Some music academies offer postgraduate study programmes.