The German Music School Association is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Today, as one of the largest music organizations in the world, it continues to provide a broad music program for all Germans.
Pioneer of music curriculum
Founded in 1952, the German Music School Association was the initiative of a dedicated music educator named William Twittenhoff. His book, "New music schools - a requirement of our time", documents his dreams for pioneering music education programs in
Access for all
Claudia Wanner, Association spokesperson, says it is pivotal to give young children "musical education from an early age. An important component of the Association, said Wanner, "is that music schools are open to everyone. “All children and youth have the opportunity to attend the music schools, to learn an instrument or to sing." One of the requirements for the Association's music schools is that tuition fees be affordable to all. The Associations fees are determined according to the income of the prospective student's family. To eliminate additional barriers, the music schools allow the students to borrow instruments, in instances where they are unable to afford their own, or when they simply want to experiment with different instruments to discover which the most appropriate instrument is for the child.
Recently, the German government facilitated additional ways to broaden the access to the music schools. Wanner says, "the music schools offer a greater fee reduction for children from disadvantaged families. For them, the fees are even cheaper, which is necessary so low-income families don't miss out once again.” Since its introduction the Association has seen an increasing number of students attend.
The Association, however, was not exclusive to German music schools, but also included the Youth String Orchestra of the music schools in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The youth ensemble, founded in 1973 emerged out of the Association's partnership with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Association's Frank Hartmann, who overseas the young string players, says the ensemble gets to travel a lot. "The children come from
The concert tours are a wonderful cross-cultural experience for the Youth String Orchestra, but it isn't the only opportunity for the Associations to make international contacts. Hartmann is also a member of the European Music School Union, which facilitates international youth exchange and organizes the European Music Festival of Youth. Every two years, ensembles, choirs, orchestras and bands attend music festivals in different countries. The students get to meet other musicians from different countries. Since music is something that can be communicated in any language, there are minimal communication problems.
The cross cultural nature of the association means there's a lot of support from the Federal Government and also the German-French, German, Polish, German-Israeli youth groups. “It's a great partnership to have emerged after the Second World War, that brings together young people to promote understanding of each others cultures. And music, of course, is the ideal for this," said Wanner.
Author: Marita Berg/crl
Editor: Jessie Wingard