Music and Arts Schools in Sweden

The Swedish Arts Schools Council (Kulturskolerådet) is a politically and trade-union independent, non-profit association offering a collaborative platform for municipalities hosting arts schools. The vision of the Council is that all children and youth should be offered equal opportunities for personal development through easily accessible arts-based activities of high quality.

The Swedish model for municipal music schools was founded during the 1940s but it was not until the 1960s that it spread rapidly in response to a sudden rise in the number of local music schools around the country. Before this expansion, music tuition was mainly available through military musicians, local bands or the church. Private lessons were also available for those who could afford it.

The general objective of the local music school was to provide the younger generation with an opportunity to play an instrument or to sing no matter their cultural or social background. This fed into the established Swedish tradition of adult education, which focused on using education as a means to affect living conditions and changes in society.

The ambition to create a positive leisure time for younger people was central to the spread of local music schools with the booming economy of the 1960s providing local communities with sufficient funds. As time progress another dimension was added as the music school began to play an ever increasing roll in the local music scene.

The vast majority of Swedish music and arts schools are run by local municipalities. This means that each school is governed by local representatives using funds allocated from local budgets. Schools have been established in 283 of 290 municipalities and this strong representation is partly credited with generating the phenomenal international success of Swedish music and music industry. It also means that there are 283 separate organisations spread over a vast country with varying sizes and circumstances. There is no national legislature or guidelines for local schools of music and the arts.

Towards the end of the 1980s music schools began to include other art forms. The change from a local music school to an arts school developed significantly during the 1990s, a process that still continues today.

Most of the music schools offer lessons on a wide range of instruments, solo singing and choirs. New techniques have revolutionised tuition for keyboard instruments and within the fields of music production and composition. There are some schools who specialise in sound and lightning, recording technique and conducting. In arts schools, lessons in dancing, drama/theatre, drawing and media are frequent but there are also schools that have circus, rhythm and acrobatics.

The most common form of education is that a child will be given one lesson individually or in a group each week. Playing in an ensemble will be extra once or twice a week after school. The teachers normally go to the compulsory schools during the day to provide lessons. Due to the fact that Sweden has a sparse population but a well developed infra structure, practically all children nevertheless have the option to get in contact with the local music and arts school.

Facts:

  • In the 290 municipalities in Sweden there are 283 arts schools.
  • Seven municipalities have no arts school.
  • The local municipality/local organisation runs the school. No national regulation or laws apply.
  • More then 200 000 children/youths will be reached by the local music and arts schools every week.
  • The fee per term is in average 653 SEK (65 €)
  • The schools have about 5.000 teachers.
  • 64 % girls, 36 % boys

For further information send a mail to:

torgny.sandgren@kulturskoleradet.se