The Swedish schools for music and arts started in a modest extent in some local areas during the nineteenfourties. There was a strong growth in the sixties when the local music schools became more frequent. Before the growth of the local music schools youths could only get instrumental lessons from military musicians, through local bands or through the church. Private lessons were a chance for those who could afford it.
The common purpose with a local music school was to give all youths the possibility to develop knowledge in instrument playing or singing within the independence of economic, cultural or social background. The long Swedish tradition with adult education, which means educational efforts for all people to confirm the possibilities to influence your own conditions of living and to confirm and change conditions in society, also reached the music education.
The ambition to create a positive leisure time for youths was a central part on the birth of the local music schools and the economical conditions in the local communities seemed to be good. Later there was another dimension, meaning that the local music school should be an important condition for the local musical life.
The Swedish schools for music school and arts is local, which means that it is ruled by local decisions and runned by local means. In Sweden there are 290 local communities and it is easy to understand that the purpose and directions varies from different parts of Sweden. There are no national means and regulations involved in the local schools for music and arts. Sweden has schools for music and arts in 278 out of 290 local communities and that is counted as a strong position. Sweden is also an outstanding country with music exports and the schools of music and arts is meant to be one of many explanations to that phenomenon.
At the end of the nineteen eighties there was a development of the Swedish local music school also to include other forms of artistic activities. The development from a local school for music to a school of all kind of arts went on during the nineties and still continues. Of the total of 278 schools, 153 are developed to schools of arts that consist of at least three branches of arts.
The Swedish local school for music and arts is briefly an activity for all, on all instruments and singing at a reasonable price. Out of the population of nine million people the schools have 363.000 pupils. This makes Sweden top of Europe, after Lichtenstein. The fees are in avarage1300 SEK (130 €) per year and consists individual lessons as well as group lessons and ensembles and choirs. The local communities invest all together 1770 million SEK (172 million €) per year and the schools themselves get 338 million SEK (33 million €) via fees. The receipts will thus be 2108 million SEK (205 million €). The length of a lesson is rather limited to about 20 minutes per week. Time for ensembles is not included. The local schools have all from the beginning had a wide offer that has made a rich professional and amateur culture life. The Swedish music wonder – the music industry- is very successful.
The schools for music and arts of today is not a joint activity but has developed in many directions during the last years as it governs local authorities. A brief summary of the Swedish schools for music and arts of today will give the following:
• Give knowledge in music and develop the child’s skill so that the child itself could develop a personal happy practising apart from the aim is to be a professional or amateur.
• Make a contribution to local growth and development.
• Make the local art activities stronger.
• Make a contribution to the development of the compulsory school by strengthen aesthetical teaching processes.
Most of the music schools offer lessons on almost all instruments, solo singing and choirs. Further more the new technique has made new subjects such as keyboard and piano in studios and composition with a computer program. Lessons will also be given in sound and lightning recording technique and conducting. In the arts schools lessons in dancing, drama/theatre, drawing and media are frequent but there are also lessons such as circus, rhythmic and acrobatics.
The most common form of education is that a child will be given one lesson privately or in a group every week. Playing in an ensemble will be extra once or twice a week after school. The teachers normally go to the compulsory schools to give lessons where the children stay in the daytime. Due to the fact that Sweden is a sparsely populated country all children nevertheless get the option to get in contact with the local music and arts school.
Sveriges Musik- och Kulturskoleråd, SMoK (Swedish Council of Schools for Music and the Arts) is the Swedish national organisation for music and arts schools. The Swedish municipalities, through their music and arts schools, are members of the organisation and it works among others with moulding of public opinion, contacts with media and collection of facts. SMoK also gives courses, conferences and training.
• In the 290 municipalities in Sweden there are 125 music schools and 153 arts schools.
• Twelve municipalities have no music school
• The local government rules the activity. No national regulation or laws rule the activities.
• 363 000 children/youths will be reached by the local music and arts schools every week.
• The fee per semester is in average 642 SEK (64 €)
• The schools have about 5.000 teachers.
• 62 % girls, 38 % boys