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Abstract

The profession of classical musician has long suffered from a lack of consideration in the curricula of the universities and conservatories in charge of preparing these future interpreters. Today things have changed: the career attracts performers from around the world and the required level, to perform in professional orchestras, has grown considerably. This transformation of the music employment market has never been researched in-depth (Lehmann et al., 2017), but has nonetheless generated in students the needs of overcoming possible feelings of inadequacy generated from being one of many outstanding musicians (Burt & Mills, 2006). As a result, higher education institutions have modified their curricula by introducing for example orchestral practice through the development of school orchestras, while institutional orchestras have set up training academies (e.g. the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1972, on the initiative of Herbert von Karajan) (Lehmann et al., 2017). As part of a reflection on employability in the world of music, the Haute école de musique de Genève has undertaken a series of research projects dedicated to understanding the professional insertion paths of its former students. Two separate quantitative studies were conducted on, altogether, 997 Alumni respondents from the Orchestral Instruments and the Early Music departments. In parallel to these surveys, a series of qualitative interviews were conducted with various stakeholders of the academic world (institutional leaders, professors, researchers, project leaders and practitioners), focused on the evaluation of the teaching curricula offered in higher education. The results gathered through these research projects enable us to describe and understand the mechanisms at work in the way music higher education curricula are structured. By comparing the results of these various studies, we propose to question the adequacy between the initial training and the expectations of the music employment market, while evaluating Alumni’s perception of their own trajectory as students and as professionals.

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