3 Music Education & Advocacy

We would like to see the incorporation of new music education pedagogy and curriculum in primary, secondary school and specialist music education, because this is the only long-term solution to increasing active participation in the Czech music life. Czech people should have a better understanding of the work of composers, producers, performers and the large technical team behind them that creates the music experience, because currently the prestige of the profession and the valuation of the music is too low. This would not only help the music industry and other creative industry, but it would help the next generation require better skills for a highly automated, highly robotized economy where human skills are getting more and more important.

3.1 Program Considerations

Our analysis shows that participation in the Czech music scene, and especially in concerts is less frequent and less likely than the EU average. Because on average Czech people are not poor by European standards, our analysis also reveals that material factors do not explain the difference. This is why the industry feels that education is the starting point of any music development program.

All over the world, music participation peaks in the early 20s and diminishes over time with age. Those countries where the loss of visiting probability or frequency is smaller in among middle-aged people have far stronger audiences, because that is the age when people can spend the most on recreation and culture. The reason for the relatively weak demand for music in Czechia is explained by the fact that the loss with age is stronger than the EU average, and very similar to the loss of Slovak and Hungarian audiences.

Declining Concert Visits by Age

Figure 3.1: Declining Concert Visits by Age

There are two proven and one very likely cause of less loss (or, in some Nordic countries, gain) with age:

  1. A higher level of general education compared to Czechia, as represented in a high music leaving age, above 20 years;

  2. A higher level of music education, and likelihood of playing an instrument or singing as an amateur;

  3. A likely stronger general music education in primary and secondary school classrooms.

Factors determining concert visiting probabilities in the EU

Figure 3.2: Factors determining concert visiting probabilities in the EU

The general possibility of a very strong audience is present in Czechia - in comparison with other European countries, there is no difference in visiting probabilities among highly educated people, or people who play music themselves. Concert visiting frequency and likelihood among young people is almost as strong as in Austria or in the Nordic countries, so the focus most be on avoiding losing these people.

Factors determining concert visiting probabilities in Czechia

Figure 3.3: Factors determining concert visiting probabilities in Czechia

We believe that the quality of the music, arts and creative activities education within the general education system matters a lot. In some countries, where creative activities are part of the secondary school curriculum, the otherwise similarly diminishing trend of leaving the audience starts from higher levels and it is slower. In other words, people who were taught to appreciate music, who tried to play, record and compose music are far more likely to visit concerts lifelong than those who were not.

The Czech music industry can do very little to increase the general education level in the country, apart from joining policy proposals in the social dialog that aim to reduce school leaving in secondary school level. However, there is a lot more to do increase the level of music education in the general education and in specialized music education.

For this study we created a balanced sample from 9092 cultural access and participation interviews from all EU countries. Half of the people have not played a musical instrument or sung in the year before, and the other half had. Overall, with the exceptions of people with a university degree or students, who are very likely to visit concerts, the ability to play music increased the likelihood of concert visits very significantly: in the least educated group from 11% to 26%, in the group with secondary school education from 31% to 54%. It is not shown in the chart, but the actual effect on concert tickets is even bigger, because people who are actively playing music are not only more likely to visit a concert, but they tend to buy more tickets.

The effect of active participation on concert attendance probability

Figure 3.4: The effect of active participation on concert attendance probability

The vast majority of concerts and recordings can be labelled as “popular music”, while the traditional European music education institutions focus on classical music. Formal music learning - i.e. learning singing or playing an instrument following a course, with the help of tutor - is mainly associated with learning Western classical music in Europe. In spite of various efforts to broaden the scope of music education, the European pre-college music schools who prepare pupils to become eligible for a professional music training are teaching Western classical music (AES 2007) and most of the attention of formal music education institutions is focused on this area.

Especially in Northern and Western European from the nineties there had been a significant change of perspective. “A point of departure of this perspective on music education research is the notion that the great majority of all musical learning takes place outside schools, in situations where there is no teacher, and in which the intention of the activity is not to learn about music, but to play music, listen to music, dance to music or be together with music” (Folkestad 2005).

The music education literature labels music learning outside the music school system as “informal learning”, referring to the fact that established popular musicians usually acquire their skills outside the formal music school system.

There are very important differences between how different forms of non-classical music, such as traditional folk music and popular music is learned. In folk music knowledge is mainly passed upon the new generation by an older generation, in popular music the learning process is largely solitary and includes interaction with the generational peer group. Most popular musician careers start in the teenage years, and bands are often formed only a few months after being introduced to the instrument, thus popular music learning becomes a group activity. For this reason, “schools are a vital social institution to band formation, even though many bands start up without the aid of teachers. For the resources of the school, any instruments or practice spaces that it can provide, and more importantly, its ready-to-hand population of hundreds of pupils, are crucial.” (Green 2008, 5–6)

Overall, in Czechia, less people pay for shows and far less people pay for music services than in Germany or Austria, and the spending level is like Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

3.1.1 Impact On Artists, Professionals & Enterprises

Please give your personal example, if the change above would start, what positive impact you would expect to feel on your professional career or on your enterprise / organization?

Karolína Pavlova, music publisher, Publisher s.r.o: Most musicians do not have an idea about what we do. If ….. happened, I believe that we could really get into the international TV series business.

Jan Svoboda, festival promoter, Festivals s.r.o: The free festivals are really killing the value proposition of our business. I know that they cannot be banned, but I would like to see a bit more responsibility on their part. At the very least, they should feature a tent where the audience can buy tickets if they like the band, subscribe to playlists, or buy merchandise.

3.2 Music Education In Primary Schools

Modernization of music education in primary schools (ME 1). At least one element of music education, music appreciation, generally starts in early primary school, but often some basic music and singing is included in the curriculum.

The best place to include music education in the general school system is the secondary school. Secondary school students usually have the interest and the maturity to play, record and compose music, visit concerts or even organize them. They are in an advanced stage of career organization, and because of their more mature age require less special pedagogy to engage. Furthermore, because the number of secondary schools and secondary school students is lower than the number of primary school and pupils, when teacher and funding capacity is limited, a more concentrated effort can be made on this easier level.

Nevertheless, ideally the program elements that we introduce for secondary schools should be introduced in an age-appropriate way for primary schools. However, this requires more organization and more preparation. Young people in secondary schools often allowed to make many choices about their activities without parental consent (though may be subject to parental control.) In the case of primary school pupils, organizing parental and teacher control is more difficult.

We will describe various program elements for secondary schools. All these measures can be incorporated into the primary school level, which can deeply enhance their efficacy. We list the areas of action only for secondary schools.

3.3 Music Education in Secondary Schools

ME2 Modernization of music education in secondary schools. Modern popular music education usually targets secondary school students in the Western countries. Informal learning practices typical for popular music are more suitable for the 14-18 years old cohort.

Music enjoyment is mainly formed by the family and the school, and the peer group has a very strong influence. In the secondary school age, schooling is compulsory and the entire cohort can be found in a few hundred schools - later these young people will spread out in hundreds of thousands of enterprises, organizations or universities.

Music appreciation in secondary schools is of paramount importance, because all studies in the past decades consistently showed that the ages 13-23 are formative for life-long music preferences. During the secondary school, and to a lesser extent, at college or university, young people are exchange much music and experiment with their cultural identity. Most people tend to listen to similar or the same music for the rest of their lives. This means for example that if the cohort born between 1996-2006 is not getting familiar with Czech music, it is unlikely that they will listen to it in the next forty-fifty years (Holbrook M.B and Schindler R.M 2013; Holbrook and Schindler 1989; Hargreaves, North, and Tarrant 2016).

For men, the most important period for forming musical taste is between the ages of 13 to 16. Men were, on average, aged 14 when their favorite song was released. For women, the most important period is between 11 and 14, with 13 being the most likely age for when their favorite song came out. It also found that childhood influences were stronger for women than men and the key years for shaping taste were tied to the end of puberty. […] For both men and women, their early 20s were half as influential in determining adult musical tastes as their early teens. (Stephens-Davidowitz 2018).

3.3.1 Enjoyment of Music Education

  • Finding teachers: systematic effort should be made to find qualified teachers who have an interest in popular music, or they themselves are able to play music. Depending on their specialization, they may be able to introduce new music in the classrooms, or oversee extracurricular activities (such as supervising school rehearsal studios, school radios, school recording equipment.)

  • Training teachers: Equipping qualified teachers with the modern pedagogy of classical music and the informal learning pedagogy of popular music, and technical skills to oversee equipment and installations. See also 9.3.2 Grants for introducing new pedagogy

  • Introducing music enjoyment in classrooms: following the regulatory requirements, introducing new classroom pedagogy elements and new music enjoyment into the classroom.

  • Extracurricular activities: it is extremely important to organize concert, studio, backstage, etc visits from schools to festivals, venues, concert halls, because our research shows that people who never visit concerts in young age will almost never take up the habit later. If schools do not offer such activities to all students, the risk is high that only highly educated, and middle-class parents will take and allow their children to concerts, thus significantly reducing the future concert audience.

  • Safe programs for teenagers: festivals and venues should offer programs targeted for teenagers that provide a safer environment to overcome resistance from parents and teachers to allow their children to programs. This is critically important in families where teachers do not have the habit to visit festival or concerts and may be afraid to send their kids to an environment where they may be exposed to excessive drinking, drugs or underage sex.

  • Grants for Music Participation: see 9.3.1 Grants for introducing new music into the classrooms

3.3.2 Active Participation in Music

Modern popular music pedagogy usually involves the active forms music participation, i.e. learning to sing, play an instrument, create a recording, a video recording and to compose a song or lyrics. Our research shows that people who themselves play music or sing tend to buy far more music products than people who do not have these skills.

  • Training qualified teachers: Related to 3.3.1 Enjoyment of Music Education the volunteers from the qualified teacher pool should be trained to oversee a school recording equipment and a rehearsal studio in the school. Teachers already involved in music education should be trained in the field of recordings and composition. Interested literature teachers should be given training and classroom pedagogy for lyrics.

  • Grants and other sources should be made available for introducing recording and rehearsal studios into schools. Existing capacities should be monitored. Music instrument merchants should be encouraged to donate at least a few model studios and actively lobby for public and donor funds.

  • Talent competition for teenage performers, composers and lyricists should offer motivation for teachers, students to continue their efforts and inspire new schools, educators and children to join them.

3.3.3 Introducing Music as a Profession

An important part of our assessment that the general public, policymakers and politicians know very little about the music and the way music is created. This leads to poor understanding, low appreciation and difficulty in spotting and attracting talent.

  • Stakeholders should form volunteer groups and take turns to participate in career orientation classroom and school programs and educate children about the artistic, technical, and managerial roles in music. Foreign experience shows that in the lack of such activities, mainly children whose parents are creative or highly educated orient themselves toward creative industries. Furthermore, girls, who tend to have as much interest, if not more, in these professions, are often discouraged to learn professions that had been dominated by the previous (parent) generations by men. Only a few hundred occasion would provide a 100% coverage of the secondary schools per year, and even a couple of dozen visits could significantly increase the visibility of the music industry in the next generation that is choosing a career path.

  • Such visits, which can include a classroom conversation with an artist, a manager, and a light/stage/sound technician, can be ideally combined with a concert/backstage visit. It is important to show that more people work behind the stage than on the stage, and children who do not have the personality traits to go to the stage find interesting work around music.

3.4 Music Education in Music Schools

ME 3 Better incorporation of popular music in the music school system. In many European countries, including Czechia, a specialized, extra-curricular music school system teaches vocal and instrumental music for pupils and students. These schools are mainly focusing on training future professional musicians in the field of classical music. They are less likely to teach folk and popular music, and they often discourage children who do not aim to be, or do not seem to have the talent for becoming professional music performers.

It is questionable that music schools should appropriately force children at a very early age, starting from the age of 6, to choose an adult career path. Music schools should be encouraged to offer tuition for children or parents who explicitly aim to become amateur musicians, or for parents who want to leave this important choice to a later age.

Music schools could be more equipped to teach some elements of popular music, and some instruments that are more likely to be used in popular music than secondary schools or primary schools. The music industry should encourage the expansion of these activities after a consultation with a wide array of music school headmasters, teachers, and parents, children or already professional musicians with a music school experience.

3.5 Educating the Public - Advocacy

3.5.1 Constructive Dialogue With the Pirates

ME4-3 Dialogue between the Czech music sector workers, fans and the Pirate Party. The emergence of the Pirate Party in Czech politics put musicians into a very awkward position, because the populist party is popular among young people who dominate their audiences. The Pirate Party is aiming to destroy the most important intellectual property of an artist, the copyright and its various royalties, and potentially creates a division between musicians and fans.

Cynical large tech-corporations are reinforcing the message of the Pirates, and contrary to reality, make the impression that the music industry is ‘big business’ and they are protecting ‘small tech startups’, whereas destroying copyright value is the interest of ‘big tech interests’ and almost all music businesses in Europe are micro- and small enterprises. This problem requires a deeper understanding of the young people’s beliefs and targeted messaging.

3.6 Working Group on Music Education & Advocacy

Please give the following details if you would be ready to join this working group: Jan Svoboda, concert promoter, Concerts s.r.o, 17 years of concert promoting experience.

There was a general consensus that this is the most important working group, and it should include very senior people from national stakeholders, furthermore professionals in music education.

3.7 Indicators to Measure Progress & Keep Direction in Music Education

The expected change could be measured already within 3-4 years, because the music consumption is very much concentrated in the 16-23 years old cohorts, and music education usually targets the secondary school student in the age of 14-18 years. This means that over 3 school years already half of the most relevant cohort can receive engaging music education that has an immediate effect on national concert attendance statistics. This effect is very strong over 10-20 years, because people who learned popular music are expected to visit more concerts lifelong.

3.7.1 Strategic indicators

  • Percentage change of the population who went to a concert, dance, ballet in the last 12 month by cohorts, (standard CAP question, to be measured by a CAP survey, see 7 Market Research & Collaborative R&D, particularly 7.4.)

3.7.2 Impact indicators

  • Percentage of the population who played an instrument in the last 12 month (standard CAP question, to be measured by a CAP survey, see @ref(#researchdev) Market Research & Collaborative R&D, particularly 7.4.)

  • Percentage of the population who sang in the last 12 month (standard CAP question, to be measured by CAP survey, see again: 7.4 )

3.7.3 Effect indicators

  • Number of teachers capable overseeing school rehearsal studios and informal learning practices

  • Number of teachers passed pedagogy programs

  • Number of school visits on concerts & backstage

  • Number of visits to career orientation talks in schools


AES. 2007. “Pre-College Education in Europe. Final Report of the Polifonia Pre-College Working Group.” Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen. http://www.aec-music.eu/userfiles/File/aec-wg-report-pre-college-music-education-in-europe-en-1.pdf.

Folkestad, Göran. 2005. “Here, There and Everywhere: Music Education Research in a Globalised World” 7 (3): 279–87.

Green, Lucy. 2008. Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Hargreaves, David J., Adrian North, and Mark Tarrant. 2016. “Musical Preference and Taste in Childhood and Adolescence.” In The Child as Musician: A Handbook of Musical Development, edited by Gary McPherson, 2nd edition, 303–23. Oxford University Press.

Holbrook, Morris B, and Robert M Schindler. 1989. “Some Exploratory Findings on the Development of Musical Tastes.” Jconsrese Journal of Consumer Research 16 (1): 119–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2489308.

Holbrook M.B, and Schindler R.M. 2013. “Commentary on "Is There a Peak in Popular Music Preference at a Certain Song-Specific Age? A Replication of Holbrook & Schindler’s 1989 Study".” Musicae Scientiae Musicae Scientiae 17 (3): 305–8.

Stephens-Davidowitz, Seth. 2018. “The Songs That Bind,” February. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/opinion/sunday/favorite-songs.html.