Overview of higher music education in the Czech Republic
Many students come to the Czech Republic to get an education in the technical or medical field, there are also students, who choose creative courses and learn to sing or play a musical instrument.
Alexandra Baranova, the writer of the GoStudy blog, talks about some specifics of acquiring a music degree at a university.
Do not forget that the Czech Republic is the birthplace of a number of famous composers, such as Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak, Leos Janacek and others. Music universities in the Czech Republic provide students with ample opportunities to become professional performers or teachers.
With a diploma in higher music education in the Czech Republic you can be employed as one of the following:
a music teacher
a sound producer
a concert performer
a music critic
Music education can be useful even if you decide to do something else after the graduation. Various jobs can benefit from the specialised music education including some of the following: sales person in a musical instrument shop; music news editor or journalist, music columnist, classical music festival organiser (“Smetana’s Litomysl”, “Prague Spring”), etc.
Music universities in the Czech Republic
To receive Higher music education in the Czech Republic you can study at:
- Janacek Academy of Musical Arts in Brno (www.jamu.cz)
- Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (www.amu.cz)
- Faculty of Arts at the University of Ostrava (fu.osu.cz)
In addition, appropriate training can be obtained at the Musicology department of the faculty of Philosophy or Pedagogy, if there is one at the University.
The Prague Conservatoire (www.prgcons.cz) is one of the oldest schools of it’s type in Europe. Graduates receive education similar to the level of high school diploma in other countries. A full list of conservatoires in the Czech Republic can be found here.
What is the advantage of music education?
In some countries people say that music is not a career that pays well. Perhaps in your home country, you really can’t earn enough money to make it worthwhile. However, according to the musicians, who live and work in the Czech Republic, this country has excellent opportunities for professional growth as a musician.
In addition, private lessons or occasional performances can be a source of a good additional income (a better option than being a waiter), even if after graduation you decide to change your career and choose a different job.
How to prepare for admission to a music university in the Czech Republic
If you want to study in the Czech Republic, you need to prepare a year or two in advance. It is best if you receive a basic college education as well as attend a music school in your own country before continuing your studies in Europe. The main advantage of that would be that your college diploma will be recognised automatically, and you will not need to take any additional nostrification exams.
It is always beneficial to come to the country you plan to study in at least a couple of times, to take part in local music competitions and festivals. By doing that you can get an opportunity to meet some tutors from the university you want to study in or just find useful contacts. You can find students from different music departments and ask them about their studies.
It is very important to meet your tutor in advance. All of the preparation can be done online, you can find a lot of information about the available tutors online. You can write them an email and tell them about yourself, you can even send them a video of your performance. Your tutor is the key to your success, there is no way around it, so you need to approach this issue very responsibly.
Exams to music universities in the Czech Republic
You can study in both Brno and Prague. If you are a practicing musician, if your aim is to play and perform, then this is the best option for you. Music education can also be obtained in Ostrava, but there is a clear pedagogical specialisation.
The university entrance exams consist of a theoretical test for knowledge of musical culture and an audition. An international student must also provide a certificate of the Czech language knowledge at the B1 level or pass a language exam at the university.
The most important is the audition where you either play an instrument or sing. If you play an instrument, then you will be asked to showcase your technical skills (scales, etudes) and play a few pieces of different styles. There will certainly be baroque, classicism or romanticism and some of the works of the XX-XXI century.
As for the test, it is not all that difficult if you already have college education behind you. The test includes questions about music history, music terminology, as well as general knowledge questions about the specialisation. However, the test counts for only 10-20% of the total score. The most important thing is the audition.
In the audition the applicant must demonstrate a sense of rhythm, musicality, imagination and musical memory. Works must be performed by heart. The exact list of requirements and conditions for the audition is provided on the website of each university and may differ slightly.
Knowledge of the Czech language is necessary for further education, but since the specialisation itself plays a key role (playing the instrument), it is not decisive. You must know the language enough to understand your tutor, master the material and solve some everyday issues.
What’s it like to be a music student in the Czech Republic
A lot of students choose the Janacek Academy of Music in Brno for the most favourable conditions for studying and living. The Academy and the student accommodation are located at the heart of the city, about 7 minute walk between the two. Life in Brno is very calm and puts you in the mood for studying.
Students at the Czech universities can create their own schedules and choose their preferred subjects. There may even be time for part-time work.
It is important to understand that learning music requires as much responsibility as any other specialisation. It is assumed that you attend classes well prepared, with your questions ready. The tutor explains difficult moments in the interpretation of a piece of music, helps to figure out how best to play it.
Bachelor’s degree programs at a Czech university lasts three years. After that, you can apply for a Master’s degree or simply finish your studies and find work.
When it comes to part-time work, you need to be proactive. You can record a small video presentation of your performance with one of your friends playing an instrument, contact some agencies or even perform outside for all to hear. Many students play on city streets at weekends. This is common in Prague. This is a good way to gain some performance experience.
By the end of the training you are a fully-fledged solo performer
In the second and third year students have to take part in concerts as part of the course requirements. In the second year students perform in a half of the concert, while another student performs in the other half. The third year involves a solo concert. The program is agreed in advance, with the help of a tutor.
After three years of studying and successfully passing all of the exams, you receive a diploma. You must make sure you have no outstanding work to be submitted and you have the required number of credits by the end of your course otherwise you will not be allowed to proceed to the final examination which consists of two parts: theory and practice.
Practice is a solo concert. It is assumed that by the end of the training you become a fully-fledged solo performer, capable of playing in an ensemble, if necessary.
For the theoretical part you can choose a piece of music and write about the history of its creation, about the composer’s other work and the period it belongs to, what makes it unique and so on. The overall volume of work is about fifty pages.
The program “Admission to creative universities”
You can prepare for admission to music universities in the Czech Republic in terms of language and general organisation by enrolling in the program “Admission to creative universities“, which takes into account typical requirements of the admissions committees.