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Dialogue and balance 

 —Being an institution does perhaps mean that you’re inherently a bit stuffy, says Jon Helge Sætre, Director of CEMPE. But there is nothing stuffy about collaborating with laptop musicians and the experimental Punkt Festival, is there?  

— Performing music with the help of media technology is fully accepted and commonplace in the world of music and arts, but the slightly stuffy educational institutions are finding themselves in a situation that they’re not quite sure how to handle, says Sætre.

The University of Agder (UiA) is now offering bachelor and master programmes in rhythmic music performance, allowing the students to choose the laptop as their principal instrument. This attracts students without traditional knowledge of music theory but who are talented in other ways, Sætre explains.

— It offers an interesting perspective on the balance between principal instrument, artistic development and innovation, and the traditional subjects of study.

In Sync?

CEMPE, the UiA and the genre-blind Punkt Festival in Kristiansand recently organised a symposium on higher music education. The idea was to share experiences of the changes taking place in the field of arts and music in order to meet the needs of tomorrow:

— It's about making an informed guess about what the students will be needing in the future. It’s about identifying different elements in music education that can act in tandem, and it’s about giving priority to certain areas without ignoring others.

That the students are entering an increasingly flexible labour market is beyond doubt. Many of them piece together a career from part-time work, temporary positions, freelancing and own projects. For example, entrepreneurship has become a new topic in music education. Broadening of genres is another clear trend. Few musicians now affiliate themselves with a single genre, Sætre claims. However, specialisation within one particular area remains the most important thing for the majority of musicians.

— Many teachers want their students to take responsibility and reflect on their own learning and development – both artistic and technical – and not just carry out artistic orders, instead giving some thought to how they can be musically creative. But our desire for the students to be proactive, enterprising and innovative must nonetheless be balanced against the need to enable them to meet quality criteria within each genre.

The Norwegian Academy of Music seeks to read the music business and develop its teaching in line with new requirements and needs. You’ll never be able to stay ahead of developments, though, Sætre concludes on a general basis.

— At best, an educational institution can be synchronous with the world around it. What we can do – by speaking to other institutions and to those ‘on the ground’ – is to open up to the outside world and see what’s happening out there. The synergies of coming together and seeing what we can find are valuable.

Last updated: 28. October 2016