Only 9% of applicants for teacher education courses in Helsinki University were admitted in 2014. The school day finishes between 1 and 2pm. Music education is mandatory up to grade 7 and elective thereafter. Music is taught in regular comprehensive schools for between two and four hours per week. Up to grade 6 it is taught by generalist classroom teachers, thereafter by specialist music teachers. But even the generalist teachers receive a music education that is hardly even a dream in Australia.
Throughout the Finnish education system, education is truly child-centered. In the early years, there is great emphasis on play. The program is very structured but intended to be as flexible as possible around each student’s needs.
For students with a special interest, Finland has 89 government-subsidised music schools that run in tandem with the comprehensive schools and deliver a core curriculum specified by government. If there is any inadequacy in the system, it is mainly that these music schools cannot accommodate all the children who want to enrol.
This excellent article can be found at Music Australia here. Finland’s music education system 9
Comment: In an article in the Guardian, Stephen Moss (not an expert in music education) writes of the Finnish education system:
‘Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, where teaching music and learning to play an instrument are the foundation of children’s schooling; it should be the model for us to follow. The principle is that a child is never too young to start a relationship with music; creative play is the key and it should never be a chore; musical exploration will feed into other disciplines; children should be allowed to develop at their own pace and go into music as deeply as they wish. It is fantastically successful, and Finland has produced a stream of extraordinary musicians over the past 30 years – making it surely per capita the most productive country for churning out great classical conductors and soloists.’
There follow pages and pages of comments from readers.
If you want to see just how divided an Anglo population can be on the proposition that music should be at the centre of the curriculum, it’s worth a look. Utopian thinking about music education-1