Studying In Germany?

I want to study violin in Germany and Im wondering which schools are the best and Im going on a student exchange at the end of the year and I have to choose between Stuttgart or Munich

From Ollie McNeill
Posted on February 22, 2012 at 03:18 PM

Hi! im 15 and I want to be a professional orchestral musician. I play violin and people have said Germany is a good place to study violin because there are heaps of scholarship opportunities and there are good schools. I am going on a student exchange over there at the end of the year and There are two places I can choose to stay: Munich (Bavaria) or Stuttgart (Baden- Wurttemberg) where should I go, because I want to get as much info for studying music as I can. Also please recommend which music schools are good in Germany. Thank You :) Im from New Zealand

From Hannah Woolmer
Posted on February 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM

My input is pretty useless as I haven't studied in germany. Someone I knew studied in munch and thought it great, also have you tried Freiburg, the hochschule is superb

From Chris Atanasiu
Posted on February 22, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Hi Ollie,
There are a number of fantastic schools in Germany, so you shouldn't be worried about whether or not there's a good place for you here, but rather worry about finding the right teacher for you at your current stage of development! Big name teachers are well and good, but some may have little time for students, or you may study with their assistants most of the time (not always a bad thing, mind you!).

There are excellent music schools in most large German cities, including, but not limited to Berlin (2 schools, UDK and Hans Eisler), Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Freiburg, Dresden, and most other cities with a top level orchestra. This by no means would exclude Austria or Switzerland from contention as well. Vienna and Salzburg both have excellent conservatories, and studying in any of the 3 countries will open doors for you across the entire "germanic" world.

Conservatory expenses are very low in Germany, the main issue with studying here being the living expenses, though with a relatively low cost of life, this is not very expensive (especially in Berlin!). Scholarships can certainly help to cover these expenses, but if you'll be coming from New Zealand, keep in mind that you'll be a LONG way from home, and trips back will be both time consuming and expensive!

Another eventual help can be the German "Academy" system, where a student "Akademist" joins an Orchestra for a period of around 2 years to gain professional experience, and to be coached by the members of their section. You receive (I believe) 835 Euros per month, and play up to 15 services. Gaining an Akademist position (particularly with a Class A orchestra) will GREATLY improve your chances of being invited to professional auditions for full positions later on, as well as help you learn repertoire, and give you a number of colleagues who can help you prepare for auditions.

I currently play with a German orchestra, and though I studied in the USA, I went the European route for summer festival/masterclass experience.
There are a few things you can do if you're interested in German conservatories that will help you along:

1) Learn German.
2) Look up any German "Hochschule" in a major city that you're intrested in. Try to find out as much about the teachers as possible.
3) Try to organize a trip at least 3-4 months before you take auditions, and take lessons with as many of the potentially interested teachers as you can. Though not all may be available for a private lesson, most teachers here allow other students to "sit in" on lessons. Some teachers only teach in a semi-public environment, where anybody in the studio can sit in. This should help you get an idea of both the style and quality of playing you will need to aim for.
4) If you need to take a year off between high school and University to learn German, acclimate yourself, and find a teacher, don't be afraid to do it!

Cheers, and good luck!

From Ollie McNeill
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 05:55 AM

Thanks Chris! that is very helpful. Im going to Munich I think. Im quite interested in the academy program..

From Vanessa Johan
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 09:07 AM

German. IS the right place to study music. And costs of living are not expensive like the country I'm living in: the Netherlands. Munich is good place! You'll like it. Switzerland is good too, but in my experience, everything is quite expensive there.

From Simon Streuff
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 02:41 PM

I just wanted to suggest Netherlands ;) But I think in germany you have more possibilities. And if you learn german it will help you alot in music world.
With the Academy programs I am not that sure. I think its like a "Praktikum" and you have to successfully audition for that. Its like auditioning for an orchestra seat, just a little easier. But as far as I know there is no place where you can just get a place like that.
Practice good, there are lots of amazing good asian people and people from the eastern countries who want to study violin in germany.
I studied in Hanover (Hannover), I am not that thrilled by our university but things are difficult with money at the time so music schools have to do stupid things. Generally the teaching is quite good, but still there ar good and bad teachers. And still there are big names everywhere in germany but that doesnt necessarily mean you will learn the most there. Big names only accept nearly accomplished players anyway. The teaching must not be the best. Look at many places as you can and ask as many teachers as you can get a call on for an lesson or for a "sit in" in a lesson. If you have more specific question you can mail me, for example I can translate something if you need.

From Chris Atanasiu
Posted on March 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Akademist or Praktikant programs are quite good for students, but they are based upon competitive auditions. That said, they are generally quite a bit less competitive than the auditions for full positions. You generally play the exposition and cadenza of a classical concerto in the first round, a romantic concerto in the 2nd round, and excerpts as a final.
They are certainly excellent experience, and will help you get invitations to auditions with other orchestras!

From Ollie McNeill
Posted on March 26, 2012 at 08:52 AM

Thank You all for your suggestions and advice! Does the Munich Hochschule sound promising? here is the link and also I gained a LTCL (Licentiate of Trinity College London) Diploma when I was 14 which apparently is equivalent to a full time undergraduate at university. Is this of any help? and also are there any prerequisites for a German Hochschule such as a level in maths etc.. because people in New Zealand are telling me to finish school in new zealand up to year 13 (last year before university) and some people are telling me its better for me to get out of the country quick and go overseas to study. What is the normal age for German students to go to a Hochschule or university? Thank You so much! :)

From Vanessa Johan
Posted on March 26, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I think LTCL will help, but I suggest you to contact the Hochschule you want to study at. If you're planning to study in netherlands I can tell you much more, but not in germany. Here's a link of HKU (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht: Highschool of the Arts, Utrecht, this is conservatory), if you're interested, i think similar rules valid for Germany, too, like: you don't need a visa (New Zealand belongs to group 2: Residence permit only, if you want to work part time too you need a separate work permit), and you need to have a specific grade (degree? Sorry, english isn't my main language) to be allowed to study at the hochschule. And there's an allowance examination. Hence I suggest you to contact that hochschule and they will tell you more.

From Ollie McNeill
Posted on July 4, 2012 at 01:17 AM

Netherlands does sound good but I think I might stick with Germany for now seeing as im going there haha! so, Im officially going to Munich in early December so is there any other advice? I really want to secure an audition over there somehow for a university or an orchestra... I have been in the nz national youth orchestra for 2 years if that also helps :)

From Thessa Tang
Posted on October 22, 2012 at 03:48 PM

Hello Chris!

May I ask how is it that one has to study the German language to attend music college there? Is it because the music professors themselves speak mainly/some German? The reason I ask is because all my German friends in England speak fluent English. When I worked abroad, it was the same. All educated Germans whether graduates or working expatriates whom we met, again, spoke fluent English overseas. I will also be very grateful if someone could possibly give just a rough idea on (1) German music college annual tuition fees for an undergraduate degree [is this of 3 or 4 years' duration?] say, from this September 2012-2013, and the (2) living costs for a 12-month period in say, Munich or Cologne or Berlin? Does anyone know, roughly? Many thanks.

From Simon Streuff
Posted on October 22, 2012 at 04:14 PM

Hi, I am from Germany and Munich, Cologne and Berlin are all quite expensive cities. I don't know exactly the prices but I think you will need about 300-400 for a small room per month, 150 for living (if you are economical) and around 700-800 per semester for the university.
Instrumental - Lessons are not necessarily in german. Some teachers even don't speak german so well, so they prefer english. But you will have to attain theory classes and musical scíence/history and they are in german. Also it's much nicer to speak the language and learn about the culture more if you study here. There are many ignorant students, who cannot speak german at all and try to get through with their quite dumb sounding "musicians english"... of course it is easier, but from well educated people one can expect a little more.
In Germany you learn english in school, like in nearly every country in I guess. English is everywhere and its not the most difficult language. So its no comparison to learn a language like german, wich of course noone can speak quite well except the germans.
Btw. if you go to munich, you will not learn german :D

edit: fact is you have to make a certain degree in german language when you want to study here. But if you have your professors protection you will have no problem with that. But its nice to do. People who at least try tend to be more integrated.

From Thessa Tang
Posted on October 22, 2012 at 05:36 PM

Simon, that was most instructive. What you say makes a lot of sense and I totally agree with you. Fortunately, my teenage daughter is already making a start with the language. She is very keen and is learning some very basic German from her two newly-arrived in September, German, room mates at boarding school presently.

From Simon Streuff
Posted on October 22, 2012 at 06:50 PM

I am glad you appreciate it. I hope I understood correct, that your daughter wants to study music. If you want to know about pre study education it's a little bit different. Feel free to ask if you have further questions.

From Chris Atanasiu
Posted on October 23, 2012 at 02:28 PM

Hi Thessa,
You may not need German for your lessons, but for complementary materials, chamber music, and other things (daily life), it is invaluable. I believe there is an exam for the University, and if you do not pass you may attend, but will need to pass several semesters of German to graduate.
Munich and Cologne are quite a bit more expensive than Berlin ( where apartments can be found from 250 or so), but still far cheaper than most other European countries. Roommates may be a good idea (you may be able to find some through the hochschule). Tuition can vary, but in Köln it is currently ~150 per semester, which also includes the cost of a 6 month transit pass for the entire state ( with bike and evening/weekend additional passenger).
Hope this helps!

From Thessa Tang
Posted on October 23, 2012 at 09:58 PM

In UK we do not have semesters. We may have either 3 or 4 academic terms in a year which term basically follows the seasons, starting from the autumn term in September each year. Can you advise: (1) How many semesters are there in 1 year? To be precise, is it 3/4 semesters or 6/8 semesters in 1 year? Your advice will be helpful since your fees are based on semesters. In London, the music tuition fees for music college is £9,000 and this is on an annual basis even if you skip a term for injury, illness or whatever. Further, in UK, I think if I am not mistaken, an undergraduate's music degree takes up 4 years. (2) Is this the same [4 years to graduate] in Germany?

From Simon Streuff
Posted on October 24, 2012 at 01:25 AM

a semester is half a year. One starts in September/Oktober (right now) and the summer-semester around april. So the fees are paid twice a year. If you are ill or something, you pay less, but you still have to pay around 250 instead of 800 Euros then and you will get your train ticket for the region you are in. In the east, there are some Universities, wich still have a very cheap study fee from around 250 Euros. But compared to england, studying is cheap in germany anyways.
regarding the room costs: It varies a lot, but as far as I know München and Köln are not cheap. In Berlin it may depend of what part you live in. There may be also cheaper flats. But still you pay more there for a very small room than in other smaller cities. Roomates are good, but if you like to practice at home also hard to find a good place.
For the Bachelor one studies 6 semesters (3 years)as far as I know and then 4 semesters master. But its different in different cities and different study-directions.

From Vanessa Johan
Posted on October 24, 2012 at 11:40 PM

euhh Simon Streuff, is it for real? I meant, the living cost here is double the cost and university? much more expensive, imho. the price you've mentioned (800) is the price of 1 year course at music school (not a conservatory) here in Utrecht (netherlands), and 650 is 18 lessons at music school (not conservatory), non EU residents pay extra for conservatorium. I need to move there I think lol. and yet you said Cologne, and munchen are expensive!

From Simon Streuff
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 09:45 AM

yes, it was even cheaper some years ago. We have the philosophy here, that everybody should be able to study. I didn't know how difficult it is to study in england financially when a friend of mine went there and had to spend thousands of euros just for the university in london. Not talking about the room fees there.
So now i know why many people want to study in germany ;) Also the teachers are quite good.
But things can change quickly sometimes, so hurry up. As I said it was basically free some years ago and now its 1400 a year. Some cities in germany still have a very low fee, like Leipzig or Dresden I think. And tat has political reasons and nothing to do with the quality.
I live in Hanover and here you can get a cheap room with some students for 250 easily. I don't know exactly the availibility but my roomate pais even less 160 for her small room. But thats really an exception. Still the same size of room would be around 500 in London I suppose.
The reason why we have so little university fees is because germans use to pay their taxes and the state gives us back subsidization. And in education its still not that bad. In cultural department they had to start fusioning and closing orchestras, because the government lowers the subsidizations. True story.