Spain National Overview
Updated in June 2018 by Antonio Narejos, Professor at Conservatorio Superior de Música de Murcia and Luis Ponce de León, Professor at Conservatorio Profesional Arturo Soria.
Overview of Higher Music Education System
The Organic Law of Education of 2006 (LOE) regulates the Higher Music Education in Spain according to the European Space of Higher Education. Since 2011 the new titles were introduced, after the publication of the Royal Decree 631 of 2010.
Music education depends on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, but each Autonomous Community develops the state regulations according to their own criteria and needs.
Master’s programmes must be managed and approved previously by the different Quality Assurance Agencies (1 nationwide and 5 regional).
Institutions for the professional music training can be grouped in three types: Public Conservatories, Private Conservatories and Schools of music, and Universities (as Faculties of music or through associated centres).
From the point of view of management, public conservatoires are regulated in Spain like secondary schools, despite offering Higher Music Education. This contradiction causes great problems with the autonomy of the centres, budgets, and recruitment of teachers.
Conservatoires are governed by a Management Team, headed by a Director. The Director is elected every four years by votes and he proposes the members of his team.
All sectors (teachers, students, service staff and city council) are represented at the School Council, whom only has an advisory nature.
|Total number of institutions||
20 public Conservatories (Conservatorios Superiores)
9 private Conservatories and Schools of music
2 private Universities for the Bachelor degree and 14 public and private universities for the Master degree.
|Total number of music students||
Bachelor degree: 8.619 students
(Data from the Ministry of Education for the academic year 2016-2017)
There are three models of funding:
Foundations, which are private institutions but mostly financed by public funding (3)
Private institutions (8) financed by student’s fees and other sponsorshipsPublic Conservatoires are, as mentioned in the introduction, considered like Secondary schools, despite offering higher education. This contradiction causes very severe economic constraints.
|Curricula||The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports determines the basic contents of the Bachelor programmes. The governments of each region (autonomous community) design their own programmes, respecting the core contents that have been established for the whole country.
In the minimum common contents for all Spain, the basic subjects, of theoretical type, occupy 10% of the total. The rest is composed of practical or theoretical-practical subjects. In an instrumental specialty, for example, the study of the instrument takes 52% of the total.
The student-teacher ratio in the instrumental lessons is one-on-one, while in the theoretical ones it is a maximum of 12.
Most Bachelor degrees offered by Superior Conservatoires focus on the music of the Western art tradition. Some Superior Conservatoires offer a course in Flamenco, Pop and Jazz music.
1st cycle (Bachelor): 4 years
2nd cycle (Master): 1 year
The diploma of the 1st cycle leads to professional activities and to continue studies on postgraduate level.
The diploma of Master degree can lead to professional activities and continuing education towards a doctorate (in a university).
A Bachelor degree (Título Superior) can be obtained in one of the following eight courses:
|Entry requirements 1st cycle||
To be admitted to a Bachelor’s programme, students must pass an entrance exam which has national validity. This exam usually consists of an instrumental audition and other tests, such as musical analysis. The admission exam contents depend on the course selected by the candidate.
|Entry requirements 2nd cycle||
Masters studies may or may not have entrance examination. It depends onthe nature of studies. When this is not compulsory, it is necessary to evaluate the academic transcript of the applicants.
|% of students who continue with 2nd cycle||The percentage is small because the supply of Master in Artistic Studies is still scarce. In the 2016-2017 academic year, there were around 200 students who finished this Master. Another group of students (similar percentage) opts for University Masters. It is necessary to consider that the Masters of Artistic Studies was introduced in Spain only 5 years ago. The forecast is that the number of students will increase when the supply in conservatories grows (today only 9 out of 27 conservatories and schools of music offer the Master degree).|
|3rd cycle||Now, only universities can offer doctoral programmes in Spain|
|Credit point system||
The generalized international mobility program is Erasmus. All public conservatories and some private have an Erasmus + agreement.
In the academic year 2015-2016 Spanish conservatoires sent 136 students and 129 teachers. There is no data available on the number of incoming mobility.
Higher music education institutions in Spain have external evaluation only for the Master studies, through the agencies ANECA, AQU, Madrid + d and UNIBASQ, all registered in EQAR.
The regional governments are responsible for the quality assurance of Bachelor studies after secondary education criteria.
The Spanish graduates in music have a high employability. However, many musicians are forced to combine various professional activities and many times they are low-paid contracts.
Teacher positions in public conservatories are by annual contracts or permanent post through a competition (public servers)
The superior course may be taken in one whole course per year or divided in two quarters: September-January and February-June.
The course starts by mid-September and finishes by the end of June.
Types of Pre-College Education
Pre-College Music Education in Spain is divided in two levels or cycles:
Basic level (Enseñanzas elementales) and a Secondary level (Enseñanzas profesionales)
This education is regulated by the Ministry of Education, specially designed to offer students the necessary preparation to continue Higher Education, although allowing them to follow other educational itineraries.
The duration of each cycle is 4 years for the basic level and 6 for the secondary level.
Upon completion of secondary level studies, the student obtains the “Technical Title of the Professional Music Education” but, despite his name, they do not really qualify for the exercise of the profession.
|Conservatoire||Spain has approximately 300 official conservatoires that offer regulated education.
The number of students of the 2016-2017 course are as follows:
35 specialities are offered, including all classical instruments and others like gaita, flamenco guitar, electric guitar, tenora or txstu, for example.
|Music school||These centres offer non-regulated education, which does not lead to qualifications with academic validity.
According to official data from the Ministry of Education, during the 2016-2017 academic year, there were 224.761 students in non-regulated education in Spain.
Many of these schools are supported by municipalities or cultural associations, such as Music Bands, which are very frequent in eastern Spain.
In the Valencian region alone, there are 549 music schools with 60,000 students (data from Federació de Societats Musicals de la Comunitat Valenciana – FSMCV).
|Private music school||
Private music schools provide classical music training, and most are authorized centres to teach official music education. There are two music schools specialised in other genres like flamenco, pop and jazz. Many of them combine the two offers.
There are private schools specialised in concrete teaching methods like Suzuki.
Private training outside the institutions is only considered as a support for regulated training. Often these classes are taught by upper level students who thus supplement their personal income.
The teachers of the conservatories are civil servants and to get their job they must pass an exam that consist of theoretical and practical exercises, which is valid across all of Spain,.
|Music and Arts in General Education||
Music is part of the curriculum in general education, but in recent years its presence has been reduced. Today, music is not a compulsory subject in any case.
Music is offered as an elective in all courses of primary school, within the subject of artistic education, and there is only one course in which music can be chosen in secondary education.
|Students entering Higher Music Education||
In most cases, students in Higher Music Education come from conservatories.
Regulated studies are not compulsory to enter higher education, but grades are taken into account in the entrance exam.
|Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level||
The activity oriented to music students outside the conservatories and the schools in Spain is very intense. On the one hand, they have many opportunities to play their instruments in festivals, in summer meetings, street concerts, etc.
There are also many youth orchestras and choirs, where students apply and expand their training.
On the other hand, there are many competitions that students participate freely.
There are no scholarships for pre-college education students.
Overview of Music Teacher Education System
Training for music teachers in Spain is provided by universities (private and public), Superior Conservatoires (Conservatorios Superiores, public) and Superior Music Schools (Escuelas Superiores de Música, private).
Universities are in charge of training for music teachers in general education. A Bachelor’s degree is offered for future primary school and early childhood teachers. Students can choose elective subjects leading to a “mention” in Music. Universities also offer a specific Master’s degree which is a requisite for future secondary school teachers. Music is one of the possible degree courses. Many students pursuing a career as secondary school music teachers are conservatoire graduates or university graduates, holding degrees such as Musicology or Music History and Science.
Teachers working in conservatoires, music schools, private academies, or working freelance, often hold a Superior Conservatoire degree, sometimes supplemented with training in pedagogy (eg. elective subjects related to music pedagogy, Pedagogy course in the conservatoire, or a Master’s degree). Vocal and instrumental teachers, in particular, generally hold a Superior Conservatoire Bachelor’s degree with a specialisation in Performance. Teachers in charge of early music education in music schools or subjects such as Music Language (training in solfege, music theory, ear training, etc.) in the first years of the conservatoire curriculum, often hold a Bachelor’s degree with a Pedagogy specialisation, or a Bachelor’s degree for primary school teachers as well as conservatoire studies.
Master’s degrees addressed to future vocal and instrumental teachers are offered in universities or conservatoires, and sometimes as the result of partnerships between the two institutions.
Doctorate degrees are only offered by universities. Doctoral programmes offered by universities in conjunction with conservatoires are also envisaged for the future.
Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education
Pedagogy is one of the possible specialisations of the Bachelor’s degree in Music (Título Superior de Música) offered in Superior Conservatoires.This course is not, however, a requirement for instrumental or vocal teachers working in conservatoires and music schools.In many Superior Conservatoires, students can combine subjects related to pedagogical issues and credits devoted to main instrument performance in their Bachelor’s degree in Performance or Pedagogy.Some universities have recently created music-oriented degrees that may include subjects related to music pedagogy as part of the curriculum.
A Master’s degree in artistic education (Máster en Enseñanzas Artísticas) is offered in a few Superior Conservatoires. The number of Superior Conservatoires offering these studies will probably continue increasing, considering that this degree will be a requisite in order to teach in Spanish conservatoires in the near future. Some universities also offer Master’s degrees addressed to conservatoire-trained students that wish to pursue a career as teachers.
Now, only universities can offer doctoral programmes in Spain.
|Structure||The Ministry of Education determines the structure and the basic contents of the music programmes throughout Spain. Bachelor’s degrees in Superior Conservatoires are completed in four years (240 ECTS). Master’s degree programmes can have a duration of one to two years (60 to 120 ECTS), but at the present moment one-year Master’s degrees are generally the norm.|
Basic contents for the Bachelor’s degrees in Superior Conservatoires are set by the government and are divided into ‘Basic training’ and ‘Compulsory subjects of specialty’.
Basic Training subjects provide a common link between all specialties and are divided into two main areas: ‘Culture, thought and history’ and ‘Music languages and technique’. These areas include courses in harmony, ear training, music history and other topics.
‘Compulsory subjects of specialty’ depend on the chosen specialty (performance, composition, conducting, etc.). The Pedagogy specialisation may comprise courses related to topics such as music pedagogy, curriculum design, educational psychology, voice, ensembles, applied piano, conducting, movement, applied composition and music technology. In some Superior Conservatoires, the Pedagogy specialisation includes a substantial amount of credits devoted to main instrument performance. The Pedagogy specialisation usually includes credits dedicated to teaching practices outside the conservatoire. As in all other specialisations, students submit a degree paper, which generally involves personal research.
Most degrees offered by Superior Conservatoires focus on the music of the Western art tradition. Some Superior Conservatoires in the south of Spain offer a course in Flamenco music (‘Flamencología’). A few Superior Conservatoires offer specialisations in Jazz and modern music.
Many Superior Conservatoires take part in Erasmus exchange programmes. There is usually a considerable demand from students, who are generally selected by an audition or other means.
The designation of the Bachelor’s degree granted by Superior Conservatoires is ‘Superior Title in Music + Specialisation’ (‘Título Superior de Música’)
The designation of the Master’s degree granted by Superior Conservatoires is ‘Master in Artistic Education + specific name of the degree’. (‘Máster en Enseñanzas Artísticas’)
Most Superior Conservatoire graduates have the opportunity to work in the field of music. Teaching, part-time or full-time, is a frequent activity in their careers. Teaching in Conservatoires (all levels) or in music schools and vocational academies are common options. Graduates also have the opportunity to teach music in secondary education, but the Master’s degree in Secondary School Teacher Training is a requisite in this case.
Teachers that wish to work in public conservatoires must pass an open competitive examination (oposición). A Bachelor’s degree, not necessarily related to music, is required for admission to the exams. A Master’s degree in Artistic Education offered by the conservatoires may also be required in the future. Different exams are held for each subject-area (instrument teachers, music language, composition, choir, music history). Candidates are required to pass a written exam, demonstrating their knowledge on a prescribed subject-related syllabus, and completing a series of practical tasks (including a recital in the case of instrument teachers). All candidates are also required to design a curriculum and teaching units for a specific grade level. Exams are not held every year, and for some instruments and subject areas, vacancies may be very few or none. The number of vacancies is established by the government for every subject area. Candidates are awarded points, mainly dependent on their exam scores, but also considering other merits, such as qualifications and teaching experience. Candidates obtaining most points, as many candidates as vacancies available for each subject area, become civil servants and are entitled to jobs as teachers in public conservatoires in the autonomous community where the exam was taken.
|Continuing Professional Development (CPD)||
The Administration organises the training of teachers by means of courses and programmes delivered in specific teacher training centres. Training can also take place at universities or other institutions, such as trade unions, where professional development courses have been previously approved.
The Government encourages continuing professional development by means of salary increments every 6 years if objectives are reached. Conditions vary depending on the autonomous communities, but 100 hours of training is the most frequent requisite. (Some autonomous communities do not regard professional development salary increments).
Education for Music Teacher in General Education (primary and secondary school)
Primary school and early childhood teacher training takes place in more than 60 universities in the country. Not all of them, however, offer the “mention” (specialisation) in Music.
Universities also offer the Master’s degree in Secondary School Teacher Training, which is a requisite to teach at this level in public and private schools. Not all universities offer Music specialisation for this degree.
A 4-year Bachelor degree (240 ECTS) in Primary Education teaching is the required training for teachers at this level in public and private schools. Universities also offer a 4-year Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education for teachers that wish to teach in the 0 to 6 age range. In both degrees students can opt for a “mention” in Music, by choosing the elective courses that are related to musical content and by carrying out their teaching practicum in music classrooms.
There are no entrance examinations. As a result, the student groups are usually very diverse, including students with sound musical knowledge and skills acquired in conservatoires or music schools alongside with students with no musical background whatsoever. Universities may establish a criteria for selecting students for the “mention in Music” if there is a great demand.
The one-year Master’s degree for Secondary School teachers comprises 60 ECTS divided into the following modules: general courses, subject specific courses (depending on the chosen specialisation), teaching practicum and Master thesis.
The Bachelor’s degree for Primary Education teachers or Early Childhood Education teachers includes compulsory subjects covering topics such as educational psychology, educational management and research, as well as teaching approaches in the different curriculum areas. Students also take a number of elective subjects, and can be granted a “mention” in Music if the prescribed music-related electives are taken. The latter usually cover singing, instrumental practice (recorder and Orff instrumentarium), movement, and music listening and appreciation. All students complete a teaching practicum, involving observation and teaching in a music classroom if the student is opting for a “mention” in Music. The teaching practicum is supervised by a music teacher in coordination with a lecturer from the university. This allows the student a close and intense contact with the school reality.
Students that opt for the music course in the Master’s degree for Secondary School teachers will take courses covering topics such as instrumental and vocal practice in the classroom setting, music history and appreciation, or innovation and research in music education, and will carry out their teaching practicum in music classrooms.
Training for music teachers in primary schools usually involves working with traditional children’s songs, folk songs, games and dances mainly from Spain, but also incorporating examples from other cultures, as well as samples of Western art music.
The Master’s degrees for music teachers in Secondary schools often focus on music of the Western art/classical repertoire, but there is a tendency for these programmes to work on a progressively wider array of musical styles, including popular music genres and traditional music from Spain and other cultures worldwide.
A great number of universities take part in Erasmus exchange programmes. There is usually a considerable demand from students, who are generally selected for the exchanges on the basis of their academic records and foreign language skills. Some students taking the degrees in primary school or secondary school teacher training carry out their teaching practicum abroad.
The 4-year Bachelor’s degree in primary school teacher training, called “Degree of Teacher in Primary Education” (Grado de Maestro en Educación Primaria) is a requirement to teach this level in public and private schools. Holders of this qualification can have access to teaching posts in primary schools (not only music education) in both public and private schools in countries in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
It is not strictly necessary to have a “mention” in Music with the degree in order to be able to teach the subject. Teachers may also accredit their competence in music by other means, for example by holding a conservatoire degree, or by passing the state competitive examinations for music teachers in public schools (oposición).
The Master’s degree in secondary school teacher training (Máster en Formación del Profesorado de Educación Secundaria Obligatoria y Bachillerato) is a requirement to teach at this level in public and private schools, together with an accredited background in music (previous musical training in universities or conservatoires).
Teachers that wish to work in public primary or secondary schools must pass an open competitive examination (oposición). Different exams are held for each subject-area and level (primary and secondary). In the case of Music, candidates are required to pass a written exam, demonstrating their knowledge on a prescribed subject-related syllabus, completing a series of practical tasks (eg. performance on an instrument), and designing a curriculum and teaching units for a specific grade level. Exams for each of the levels tend to be held in each autonomous community every other year. The number of vacancies is established each year by the government for every subject area in each level. Candidates are awarded points, mainly dependent on their exam scores, but also considering other merits, such as qualifications and teaching experience. Candidates obtaining most points, as many candidates as vacancies available for each subject area, become civil servants and are entitled to jobs as teachers in public schools in the autonomous community where the exam was taken.
|Continuing Professional Development (CPD)||
There are many opportunities for music teachers to continue their training once they have entered the professional field. Lectures, seminars, and additional courses are offered by universities, teacher training centres and other institutions.
The Spanish government encourages teachers’ continuing professional development by means of salary increments every 6 years, if specific training objectives are reached (as is the case with conservatoire teachers, these objectives, generally a certain number of training hours, may vary depending on the autonomous community).