The Misery of Music Universities
The Misery of Music Universities

The Misery of Music Universities

How can we restore employability for classical music graduates? I keep denouncing it all the time, but here is somebody who is capable of finding the right words on the absurd and deplorable state of professional music education in Germany. Please read and share this noteworthy interview with Esther Bishop in VAN Magazin, conducted by Sophie Wasserscheid. It’s really about time that a paradigm shift takes place in the current system of dysfunctionality, self-referentiality and maladministration, and to rethink music performance curricula from scratch. But alas, wise words won’t change anything—and I have serious doubts whether music universities will be able to carry out reforms on their own initiative.

One comment

  1. Heinz Geuen, principal of Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, has published a counterstatement to the interview (, emphasising the importance of free access to musical education of all kinds and the alleged need for a competitive oversupply with music graduates. These are long-familiar standard arguments of music university administrations, legitimating the whole system as it is, and evading the question if it is really necessary to have four out of five students graduate with more than dubious perspectives. Geuen has only qualitative points and fails to argue quantitatively, which is a deficiency of his perspective. Maybe his Cologne institution is well-off in terms of diversity of curricula and openness of teaching culture—my congratulations. Yet at the same time, this is clearly not true for many other music universities. I have been observing seven institutions as a student and faculty member for the last 15 years, and none of them matches Geuen’s description.
    Furthermore, it is illicit to denounce the link between one-to-one-tuition and the #metoo debate. Of course we need to continue discussing about this paradigm of artistic teaching, about hierarchical disparities, and about how these encourage harassment or sexually offensive behaviour. Esther Bishop reacted to a question of the interviewer and has by no means questioned the ethical basis of one-to-one teaching—and Geuen’s thin-skinned reaction only proves his vulnerability in this issue. In sum, I deduce from his statement a compulsive defence of the status quo rather than true willingness to introduce overdue reforms. His attitude devaluates the need for changes in structure, administration, and curricula, basically saying »So what, we already do lots of things!«. The text thus confirms the evaluation I have already expressed elsewhere: It will not be possible to change the system from inside out.

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