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A guide to the higher music education in the Czech Republic

Aleksandra Baranova

2 July 2023

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Alexandra Baranova, the author of the GoStudy blog, will explain the peculiarities of admission to the university to study a music program.

It is important to keep in mind that the Czech Republic is the homeland of a number of famous composers, such as Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak, Leos Janacek and others. Music schools in the Czech Republic give their students ample opportunities for realization of their creative potential and becoming a professional performer or a teacher.

What kinds of jobs can you find in the Czech Republic (and beyond) holding a degree in higher music education?

  • music teacher

  • composer

  • arranger

  • sound producer

  • concertmaster

  • conductor

  • live performer

  • music expert

  • music critic

Music education and the subsequent breadth of knowledge can come in handy even if, after graduation, you decide you to work outside of your degree field. Some examples of the positions that may include having a field-specific education as one of the conditions for employment: a music instruments store salesman; an editor of the music news section or a music columnist; member of the organization team of a classical music festival (for example, "Smetana's Litomyšl", "Prague Spring"), etc.

Music schools in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, higher music education can be obtained at the following education institutions:

  • Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno (https://www.jamu.cz/)

  • Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (https://www.amu.cz/en/)

  • Faculty of Arts of the University of Ostrava (https://fu.osu.cz/)

In addition, you can receive the appropriate training at the Department of Musicology of the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Education, if there is one at the university.

The Prague Conservatory (www.prgcons.cz) belongs to the category of specialized secondary education institutions, therefore, as a rule, students who have not received a good "base" training in the form of the secondary vocational music education at home get admitted there. You can find a full list of conservatories in the Czech Republic here.

**What is the advantage of getting a music education?**

In the CIS countries, there is a common perception that music is not a career path that can put bread on your table. Perhaps, back at home, you won t really be able to support a lavish lifestyle by perusing music as a career. However, according to the musicians who live and work in the Czech Republic, this country offers excellent opportunities for professional growth and fulfilment.

In addition, private lessons or occasional performances can make a good side job (definitely a far better one than working as a waiter in a fast food restaurant), even if after graduation you decide to change your occupation and choose a more ""money-making"" career path."

How to prepare for admission to a Czech music school

"If you want to study in the Czech Republic, it s best to start preparing for that ahead of time. Preferably a year or two in advance. Your best bet is to not only finish a regular children's music school at home, but also to receive a secondary vocational music education before aiming at continuing your studies in Europe. The main advantage of this approach is that your vocational school diploma will be nostrified automatically, and you won`t have to take any additional nostrification exams.

Before applying for admission to a Czech university, it would be a good idea to come to the country a couple of times, take part in local competitions and festivals and show off your skills. You will also have an opportunity to meet the teachers there; perhaps you will even find ""your"" teacher or just establish useful connections. Do some ""digging"" on social media, find students from various music departments and ask them about their studies. This way you will for sure learn a lot of useful practical bits of information that aren`t available on the university website.

Finding a teacher, who is going to train you ahead of time, is very much important. The preparatory work can be done online – search for information about the teachers, write them emails, tell them about yourself, send a video of your performance, then come to the Czech Republic for an advice session to get to know each of the teachers in person. Again, you can ask the students about the teachers – you will definitely learn a lot of useful information this way.

Sometimes a musician comes to study already having a well-developed performance style, which doesn t mesh well with the foreign teacher`s vision. Or else the teacher is just unable to clearly explain the material, or simply does not pay enough attention to the student – these kinds of situations also happen. But the truth is - your teacher is the key to your success, there is no way around it, so you have to approach this issue with utmost responsibility."

Entrance exams to the music schools in the Czech Republic

"You can study both in Brno and in Prague. If you strive to become a practicing musician, that is, you want to play the instrument and perform, and not teach, then these are the best options for you.

Music education can also be obtained in Ostrava, but the programs there have a clear education bias.

The higher education institutions entrance exams include a musical culture theory test as well as a creative exam. A foreign applicant must also provide a certificate of knowledge of Czech at B1 level or pass a language exam directly at the university.

The most important stage though is the creative exam that involves either playing an instrument or giving a vocal performance (depending on the program you are applying to). The better you show off your skills, the greater your chances of getting in. In the case if you play an instrument, you will be asked to perform some technical material (scales, etudes) and a number of music pieces of different periods. The exam will for sure include Baroque, Classical or Romantic and some pieces of the XX–XXI century.

As for the test, those who have already received a secondary vocational music education at home won`t find it challenging at all. The test includes questions on music history, on the knowledge of terms and on the general knowledge of the field. However, the test itself only accounts for 10-20% of the entrance exam final score. The creative exam is what matters most."

**Creative exam**

During the creative exam, the applicant must show off their timekeeping, pitch and imagination as well as their musical memory. The pieces must be performed strictly by heart. The full list of requirements and conditions of the creative exam is given on the website of each school and may differ slightly.

Knowledge of Czech is necessary for future studies, but since the practical aspect of the program (e.g. playing an instrument) plays the major role in the education process, your Czech level itself is not a deal breaker. You should be proficient in the language enough to understand your teacher and be able to communicate with them, master the subjects’ material and deal with the everyday issues.

What life is like for a student of a Czech music school

“Many students primarily choose the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno, as it offers the most favorable conditions for studying and living. The academy and hostel are located in the very center of the city, a 7-minute walk. from each other. Life in Brno is very calm, the atmosphere of the city itself easily puts you in the mood for studying.

University studies in the CIS countries and in the Czech Republic are like night and day. Here it is possible to arrange your study schedule according to your convenience as well as to choose subjects.

Since you arrange your study schedule by yourself, in case of having a certain degree of self-discipline, you can find enough time for a part-time job.

It is important to understand that a music program, just like any other, requires students to adopt a responsible attitude towards their studies. Your teacher-advisor should not have to keep you in line, force you or motivate you – you are supposed to come to class well prepared and with all your questions ready. The teacher explains the difficult moments in the music piece interpretation, helps figuring out how to perform it in a more interesting or clean way.

Of course, if you are a generally responsible student, but just so happen to have no time to prepare for class once, the teacher will give you a pass and rehearse the piece with you.

The Bachelor's program in the Czech university lasts for three years. After that, you can either apply for admission to a Master's program or just be done with your studies and start working.

When it comes to the part-time job or employment, you have to take a proactive approach. You can team up with one of your friends to perform a duet, record a small video presentation of your performance, and contact specialized agencies or the very same places you would like to perform at.

Many students play right on the city streets on weekends – this is pretty common in Prague. This is a good way to get rid of the fear of performing in front of the public, to practice and an opportunity to earn a little bit of money as well.

By the end of your studies – you are a full-fledged solo performer

"An important element of the study process in the second and third years is a concert; in the second year, you can ask a fellow student to be your concert partner: you perform one half of the concert, while your partner performs the other half. The third year involves a solo concert. The concert program is prepared in advance, with the help of the teacher.

Three years of study are completed with the exams and a thesis. In addition to the fact that you must ""ace"" all the subjects and earn the necessary number of credits by that point (credit is the ""weight"" of a particular subject in a European university. One subject can be valued at six credits, while the other - in one or two. For each term and by the end of the study program, the student must earn a certain number of credits. If a student does not have enough credits, they may not be able to move on to the next year or be admitted to final exams – ed. note), you must pass the exams in theoretical and practical aspects of your program.

The practical aspect is the solo concert mentioned above. It is assumed that by the end of the studies you become a full-fledged solo performer, capable of playing in an ensemble if necessary.

The theoretical aspect is writing a standard thesis, or in the other words - working with literary sources. You can choose a particular piece of music – in this case, you need to tell about the history of its creation, which period of the composer's work it belongs to, what is unique about this piece, compare it to other similar pieces by composers of different periods, and so on. The overall volume of the thesis is about fifty pages."

**The "Admission to the Art Schools" program**

You can prepare for admission to music schools in the Czech Republic in terms of language and organization with the help of the "Admission to the Art Schools" program, which takes into account the requirements and deadlines of the admission offices to the greatest possible extent.

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