Music Schools and Programs in Switzerland

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Music Studies in Switzerland

Switzerland has long been a trendy haven for tourists, especially during the winter season, when skiing becomes one of the country’s major draws.  In more recent years, Switzerland has also become a popular destination for study abroad participants, including those studying in the field of music, as the country is home to a number of excellent universities and literally hundreds of fun and interesting sites and attractions.

The Swiss Confederation, as Switzerland is officially known, is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 distinct cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities, the so-called Bundesstadt, or “federal city,” in the country.

Switzerland can be found in the heart of the European continent, where it is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, making it the perfect gateway from which to explore all of the beautiful cities that Europe has to offer.  Switzerland is completely landlocked and is divided geographically between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, comprising an area of roughly 16,000 square miles (41,285 sq. km).  Although the Alps occupy the greater portion of Swiss territory (about 50 percent of the country), most of the country’s population—totaling approximately 8 million—lives on the (warmer) Plateau, where the larger cities are situated.  Two such cities are Zurich and Geneva, both of which are considered global cities and major economic centers.

Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French, Italian and the Romansh-speaking valleys. Therefore, the Swiss, although predominantly German-speaking, do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity; rather, the strong sense of national identity and community is founded on a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, and Alpine symbolism.

Switzerland boasts the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world and the eighth-highest per capital Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The people of Switzerland also have the second-highest life expectancy in the world and enjoy a very high standard of living.  Much of the country’s success can be attributed to its excellent system of education, which consistently ranks high in global indexes.

Music Education in Switzerland

Music education is a popular field of study at Swiss universities, most of which welcome hundreds of international students each year.  Students who desire to earn a degree in music in Switzerland may do so at either the undergraduate (bachelor) or graduate level (master), with programs that concentrate on the sub-fields of music appreciation, performance, composition (writing music), music education, and/or music production. 

The admission process at Swiss universities varies depending on the type of degree a given student plans to pursue.  The minimum qualification for the bachelor degree program in music is a high school (secondary school) diploma.  Some institutions and programs may also require students to have at least some level of prior music education and experience. This is particularly true for those programs that focus on music performance.  Master’s degree candidates must hold an undergraduate degree in the same or a related field prior to gaining admission into the program.

The basic Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in music aims to expose students to a variety of musical aspects, both theoretical and practical. Because this degree is not considered a professional or performing arts degree, students in these programs may take fewer core courses than they would in other programs.  Depending on the available course offerings, participants will gain skills and knowledge that focus on a full range of subjects, from music education to music history.  Most of the bachelor degree programs in music prepare graduates to pursue a variety of careers in the music industry following graduation.

The curriculum for the BA program in music may vary slightly from one institution to the next, but for the most part the courses tend to focus on topics such as musical performance, as well as the theory, history and philosophy of music.  Other courses may include:
  • Musicianship
  • Eastern music
  • Modern music
  • Music and the Renaissance
  • Ensemble performance
  • Baroque music history
  • Women in music
  • And more…
Following graduation from the BA program, students are free to pursue a graduate degree through programs that will enable them to narrow their educational focus.  Graduates are also eligible to pursue a wide variety of entry-level music careers, including those that center on music therapy, journalism and criticism, music library work, teaching and/or audio engineering.

Why Study Abroad in Switzerland

Switzerland is home to scores of excellent educational institutions.  However, the education each study abroad participant gains while studying here is definitely not limited to the classroom.  Home to hundreds of museums, libraries, galleries, historical venues, and some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world, Switzerland offers a wide array of interesting and enjoyable sightseeing opportunities and recreational pursuits.  Some of the more popular sites and attractions include:

The Matterhorn

Perhaps one of the world’s most renowned mountain peaks, the Matterhorn is largely considered Switzerland’s most popular tourist attraction.  A snow-capped Alpine peak for much of the year, the Matterhorn rises 4,478 meters above the Swiss forestland below.  Although it is not the highest peak in Switzerland, it consistently draws the most visitors, which includes hundreds of daring climbers each year who set out to reach its summit.  If you can find the time, the Matterhorn is one Swiss
attraction that should not be missed.

Swiss National Park

Founded in 1914, the Swiss National Park is the oldest of its kind in the world-famous Alps. Although the Alps span many miles and a few countries, they are perhaps best seen from the vantage point of the Swiss National Park.  Here you will also find a number of recreational opportunities, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile riding in the winter, and fishing, hiking and boating in the summer.  As you walk the trails of this marvelous and majestic park, you will also be treated to frequent sightings of some of the local wildlife, including eagles, marmots and elks.

The Chillon Castle

The Chillon Castle, also known as the Chateau de Chillon, is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland. The massive palace is located near the city of Montreux and is a favorite stop among tourists and locals alike.  The Chillon Castle was once home to the Count of Savoys from the 12th to the 14th century, and consists of 100 buildings, several dungeons, three courtyards and four great halls. Each hall provides a spectacular view of nearby Lake Geneva.

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