One year study options in Europe?

Edited: August 2, 2019, 4:04 PM · Hello! I could also title this Returning to School as an Adult Professional?

I’m considering taking a year off of my current life as a freelance violinist, and want to explore studying for a year in Europe. I recognize a “sabbatical” is less common as a freelancer, as opposed to a tenured Orchestra member or professor, but I am very excited about the idea.

I’m looking for any and all thoughts and recommendations- the more out of the box the better!

I feel a year (Sept-May) is the maximum I could reasonably take, given getting leave from various organizations.

Since this is very early in my idea process, I’m open to literally anything. Are there studies in chamber music? Continuing education in new music (a ton of what I currently do is new stuff), performance practice, interpretation, construction, etc? Independent research into who knows what? Really, I’d love to do something even outside of music, but worry it would be harder to justify to some employers.

I currently have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in performance from American conservatories, but have been out of school for nearly 15 years.

A colleague suggested an Artist’s Diploma. I’m open to this option, as I can see loving a chance to really learn again. I have a B.M. and M.M., but have been out of school for nearly 15 years and I don’t think I have the chops I did in my early 20s. I have no idea how competitive programs are overseas.

If anyone has experience with various programs and how an English-speaker might fare, I will be grateful. Unfortunately, I currently do not speak any other languages, although I can get around some in Italian, as I’ve spent the last few summers teaching at a festival there.

Many thanks!

Replies (9)

August 2, 2019, 7:00 AM · School in Germany is free! The school years runs from October through July, though, which is a bit different than your time off...
August 2, 2019, 10:16 AM · Yes, unfortunately! Going into June and July conflict with the festival in Italy, for which time off is not an option. We’ve had college students from Austria apply and run into this problem. Do all of them have the same schedule?
August 2, 2019, 5:39 PM · Hmm...yes. I do believe they do. I checked a couple of different schools in different states, just to be sure, because states are fairly independent here...but all that I checked listed the same times. Exam times are in July, generally.

(In other study programs, you cannot be penalized for missing classes - it is considered illegal for profs to do so. So, technically, you could enroll, never attend class, complete the assignments, and be just fine. (Well, if you can pull that off! It's not my style. :) Practical courses (and perhaps that would include most or all music courses??) can be different. But perhaps you could find a program that was willing to be flexible (allow you to finish the exam/performance a few weeks early, or fly back for it, or something). Don't know if this would work for you.

This school is run in English, which is kind of unusual here. I don't know if you know of the partnership between Edward Said, an Palestinian American intellectual who wrote a number of books very influential for postcolonial studies and a highly skilled pianist, and Daniel Barenboim? It's an interesting one! I don't know if you have to come from the middle east to attend their school, though...didn't look too closely...

I'd be happy to try to answer any questions if you are thinking of Germany as a place to study. Other places around Europe, I don't know so much.

August 2, 2019, 7:05 PM · Anita, isn't there a residency requirement for free school in Germany?
August 2, 2019, 8:26 PM · Thanks so much, Anita! I did see the Baremboim school after an online search, which looked very interesting until I looked at the dates. So, Gabriel, even if there were not a residency requirement, since the schools in Germany go until July, formal study there wouldn’t work for me. Does anyone know about the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague? I don’t know if I’m brave enough to go back to school at 40, but it does seem to have a certificate that would fit!
August 3, 2019, 5:20 AM · (Gabriel, to answer your question: you'd have to apply for a student visa, which (as an American, which Robyn seems to be from her profile) you would do after arrival in Germany, before the 90-day travel visa that you are automatically granted with US citizenship is up...there are requirements, such as actually being enrolled in a program, having health insurance, and having enough finances or scholarship to cover living expenses, which are a little over 800 Euros a month, they estimate...etc. But you don't have to be a permanent resident or have citizenship, no. There are periodically votes about this, but I think in general people feel that having foreigners study in Germany does nothing but enrich the country. It's seen as a positive (by most).)

Robyn, I support school at 40! Sounds like a brave step, which I have generally found brings positive things, even where you don't expect them.

Edited: August 3, 2019, 7:34 AM · "I think in general people feel that having foreigners study in Germany does nothing but enrich the country."

Yeah. I spent a sabbatical semester at the MPI-P in Mainz and there were students there from all over the world -- Bulgaria, Egypt, China, Romania, Japan, America... It was helpful that the "working language" of the institute is English. Of course the professors speak German with their German students too.

Edited: August 5, 2019, 10:12 AM · English is rapidly becoming the common language of discourse in European universities, because they have many students worldwide from outside Europe, and these students of many nationalities often have English as their only language in common.

For family reasons, Belgium is the continental European country I am most familiar with, and the Catholic University of Leuven is a good example of what I have said in the preceding paragraph. I knew a Greek concert pianist who moved to Belgium from Greece because of the economic circumstances in Greece at the time, and while teaching and performing in northern Europe he did a Masters at the Uni in Leuven. One of his pupils was a member of my family and I was asked to check over her teacher's English language MA dissertation for grammar and syntax before he submitted it. In so doing I felt I was learning more about the technicalities of Scriabin's piano compositions than was perhaps good for me!

August 29, 2019, 11:46 AM · Thank you all for your thoughts!

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