The pre-college working group

There were good reasons to include pre-college education in the research on the situation of systems for professional music training in Europe. Firstly, musicians have to start learning an instrument at a young age in order to reach a sufficient level for the music profession. The training of a professional musician requires a long period of time for technical, physical and musical development. Secondly, it is important for professional training institutions at higher education level to know where and how to recruit new students. In some countries training units for young students exist within institutions for professional training, in others preparatory years are offered to young talented musicians who do not yet meet the level of admission to the higher education level. Other countries may have a well-developed system of music schools operating within or outside the general (compulsory) education system. However organised, a connection between pre-college training and higher music education is always present and in order to improve the quality of the outcomes in both levels of music education, a good relationship between these two educational levels is essential.

For these reasons, a pre-college working group was established in the framework of the Polifonia project. The objective of this working group was to collect information about levels of music education before the higher education level and about the preparation and admission of music students to higher education.


The outcomes of the working group’s work were:

  • The national descriptions of pre-college music education systems were finalised and integrated into the overarching publication National Music Education Systems and recommendations for supporting young musical talent at pre-higher education level have been published
  • The dissemination of these various outcomes started with the Conference Pre-college music education in Europe organised in Oslo in May 2008 and the recommendations were transmitted to national and European policy-makers
  • A study on where and how young talents are prepared for the higher education in music
  • A literature research about the necessity of starting with music education at an early age in order to be able to become a professional musician
  • An overview over European trends concerning admission procedures and standards in higher education in music
  • Examples of good practice in pre-college training based on site visits


The members of the Polifonia pre-college working group were:

  • Philippe Dinkel (chair – Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve)
  • Päivi Arjas (Sibelius Academy)
  • Javier Duque (Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya)
  • Gábor Eckhardt (Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest)
  • Leila Faraut (CNR de Strasbourg)
  • Arthur Gieles (Koninklijk Conservatorium, Den Haag)
  • Patricia Keir (Royal Welsh Academy of Music, Cardiff)