Currently, art’s function and the artist’s role in society are rethought and reframed in many ways. Artists are expanding the idea of professionalism and increasingly collaborating, using their artistic competencies across institutional and disciplinary borders. By this, they create social innovation and value in other fields, such as health, education, business, environment, and social work. The current expansion of professionalism is not limited to the arts. The increased renegotiation takes place across diverse domains and professions, coinciding with the restructuring of society. These present changes call for curriculum initiatives in higher music education as well as in higher education in general to equip students with the skills and competences needed for new professional opportunities and expectations. A pertinent question is how higher music education can prepare students for such a future.
At RMC in Copenhagen, we have addressed this call by implementing a new project semester in the bachelor programs for performers and composers, premiering in the fall 2022. The interdisciplinary course is called “EKIP” (External, Collaborative [Danish: Kollaborativ], Integrated Project), a co-creation between the already existing subjects of artistic development work, entrepreneurship, and music pedagogy by a team of six teachers. In EKIP, students work in transdisciplinary or cross-sectorial partnerships with professionals or institutions outside RMC to develop artistic and/or arts-educational projects that respond to societal needs, challenges, or opportunities.
The external focus of the course represents an intention to relate to the world outside the institution, both as a general educational ideal of world-centredness and as an innovation-based version of an internship.
The course’s c(k)ollaborative focus represents an intention to support students in co-creating and engaging with collaborative methods, both in artistic and arts pedagogical practices, while fostering a collaborative approach to entrepreneurship. It also represents an intention to enhance students’ well-being and sustainability in their later working lives.
In its integrated focus, the course presents a holistic and global orientation rather than curriculum-based thinking. By fostering collaboration between different entities, we intend to stimulate interaction between academic subjects, perspectives, and individuals that can lead to transformative learning processes and allow for risk-taking and exploration of various professional identities. Our hope is to inspire students to investigate transdisciplinary and trans-professional approaches to their projects, enabling them to explore personal desires and visions that transcend habitual disciplinary boundaries.
The framing of the course as a student-driven project
is based on the educational perspective/philosophy that student’s participation and autonomous knowledge construction is essential for learning processes. As a music conservatory, RMC is rooted in a tradition that places great emphasis on individual products or performances, where students and teachers display and are assessed by virtuosity in performance, composition, or conducting. Therefore, we also conceive EKIP as a renewal of practice towards more process-oriented, reflexive, and collective practices and product formats.