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Music Education Reaches Towards the 2030s

As the world changes, music education must change with it. The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation supports this transformation with three significant grants.

Juha Merimaa Avatar

Turku Conservatory Workshop 2019, photo by Tuomas Kourula

Finnish music education is among the best in the world. However, the sector cannot afford to rest on its laurels, says Taija Lähdetie, Executive Director of the Conservatory Association of Finland.

“Finland is changing. The population is aging, and resources are shrinking. In many municipalities, there are hardly any children being born. At the same time, immigration is diversifying society. Remote learning expanded explosively during the covid era, and now artificial intelligence and other technological changes are on the horizon.”

Therefore, music education must also evolve. The need was already recognized in 2020 at the Vision 2030 for Finnish Music Education, where a broad working group of industry stakeholders listed 25 development areas for Finnish music education by 2030.

Now, the Conservatory Association of Finland is moving the matter forward. The project “Music Education Towards the 2030s: A Future-Proof Educational Culture” includes three concrete pilots to advance the matter together with the working group appointed to push the Vision 2030 further.

One pilot examines the potential for increased cooperation and even possible merger between the Central Helsinki Music Institute, Kallio Music School, and Music Centre Resonaari, all located in the growing metropolitan area. In another component, the Mikkeli Music Institute, located in a declining area, is expanding its cooperation networks to maintain its vitality. The third pilot explores how to develop the training of instrument and music teachers.

Additionally, a leadership training program for the directors of music schools will be launched in collaboration with the Sibelius Academy. “The aim is to inspire the field to engage in development work and think about ways to achieve the vision,” says Lähdetie.

The aim is to inspire the field to engage in development work and think about ways to achieve the vision

says Lähdetie

Three Grants for Music

The Conservatory Association of Finland is starting its project with a two-year grant of 660,000 euros from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. Additionally, funding for the pilots will come from the participating institutions.

Lähdetie considers the foundation’s contribution significant. “We are a small office with one permanent employee. Such funding made our heads spin as it enables us to move things forward.”

In May, the foundation also awarded grants to two other music education development projects. The Instrument Academies received a four-year grant for the project “Establishing a permanent place for instrument academies in the field of domestic music education,” and the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki similarly received four-year funding for “VOICE AND JUSTICE – Music as a Facilitator of Diversity”

These projects strongly align with the foundation’s strategy, emphasizing long-term commitment, internationalism, and supporting young talents.

Lähdetie sees the investments as significant. “All three broadly develop the field. Although they approach the topic from different angles, they all support the vitality of the sector,” Lähdetie notes.

Academies for Top Talents

While music institutes focus on providing basic education to a wide range of enthusiasts, Finland’s three instrument academies (the String Academy, the Youth Piano Academy, and the Brass Academy) aim for excellence.

The idea of the instrument academies, intended for young top talents aiming for professionalism, is to provide promising students with high-level instruction directly from the top of their field. The activities have yielded success: since 2010, the students of the academies have won a total of 131 awards in various competitions. Currently, the academies have a total of 60 young students.

The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, whose strategy includes allocating grants in breakthrough potential, has previously supported both the String Academy and the Youth Piano Academy.

However, the academies’ activities have been relatively unknown to the general public. Last year, the academies founded a joint umbrella association, the Instrument Academies.

The organization has now received a four-year grant of 1,234,000 euros from the foundation to establish the academies’ position. The Finnish Cultural Foundation also awarded the organization 1,234,000 euros for the same purpose.

“The idea of the umbrella organization is not to interfere with the artistic-pedagogical activities of the academies but to promote their common cause,” says Anni Pokki, Chair of the Instrument Academies.

“The long-term goal would be to secure more permanent public funding for the instrument academies. Funding from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Foundation helps move towards this goal.”

The simultaneous support of all three projects by the foundation is a strong investment in Finnish music education, a real vitamin shot for the entire field

Gardberg notes.

When Developing Music Education, It’s Also Worth Taking a Step Back to Consider Why Our Music is the Way It Is

“Music is a melting pot that always reflects cultural influences. Even so-called Western art music is not free from influences. For example, Mozart borrowed from Janissary music, and Debussy was fascinated by Gamelan music,” says Emilie Gardberg, Dean of the Sibelius Academy.

Recently, more attention has been paid globally to the history of music. Now, this is being promoted in Finland through the Sibelius Academy’s “VOICE AND JUSTICE” project. The Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation granted it a four-year funding of 1,000,000 euros.

The project strongly links to the views on diversity in education and societal impact presented in the Vision 2030 for Finnish Music Education.

“The simultaneous support of all three projects by the foundation is a strong investment in Finnish music education, a real vitamin shot for the entire field,” Gardberg notes.

The aim of the Sibelius Academy project is to produce a textbook on the subject for use in all institutions. For the public, it will be visible at least through an opera production and jazz concerts. But the topic can also be seen extending beyond the institutions. Gardberg sees music as a means of reconciling social conflicts.

“Music is a much more versatile way of being together than verbal interaction. For example, playing together can create mutual understanding.”

Jane ja Aatos Erkon säätiön uutiskirje

Uutiskirjeemme tilaajana saat ajankohtaiset kuulumiset sähköpostiisi neljästi vuodessa.

Tilaamalla uutiskirjeen hyväksyt tietosuojaselosteen.