In France, there are several ways leading to teach music in schools, because there are several professions corresponding to different types of school and also to different employments. Accordingly, in professional training, academic and professional aspects are taken into account in different ways.
In Secondary school, we have specialized music teachers in the middle schools (collèges) and high schools (lycées). They are trained in one of the 32 university institutions called ESPE (Écoles supérieures du professorat et de l’éducation) situated all over France and its Overseas Departments and Territories. The ESPE provide a work/study training program of four semesters leading to a master’s degree (MEEF). The university course contains disciplines such as Musicology, History of art, Pedagogy (teaching and assessment methods, working on projects…) as well as a general knowledge of the educational system, an introduction to research methods and to the use of digital tools in music classes. It also contains some practical music making but no individual singing or instrument lessons.
This training program also prepares the students for a special exam (called concours) which is necessary to become a civil servant of the national education service. Passing this exam at the end of the first year offers the opportunity to get employed as a trainee teacher during the second year of study. Otherwise it is possible to follow a very similar training program, alternating theoretical lessons at university and practical work in school, and of course to take the exam again.
Primary school teachers are trained in the same university institutions (ESPE) but as generalists. They have to teach the whole curriculum throughout the school year, including music. So their professional training contains every subject taught in Primary school. Only a very few hours are reserved for artistic disciplines as visual arts and music (about 20). In fact the practical approach to teaching music in class depends a lot on the personal musical background and abilities of each generalist.
To reinforce music in primary school, the French Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture decided in the 1980s to create nine training centers delivering a university diploma for professional musicians in schools, the CFMI (Centres de formation de musiciens intervenant à l’école). Since then about 5000 musicians have been professionally trained and the number of children practicing (or having practiced) music in school with them is estimated at more than half a million. Unlike their colleagues in Secondary school they are not employed by the national education service, but by local authorities. Indeed they often fulfill professional tasks not only in Primary schools but also in other institutions (music schools or academies, institutions for persons with special needs, care and retirement homes, early childhood institutions…) or as leaders of local choirs, bands or orchestras. In France nowadays, musicien intervenant is a profession in its own right.
The training of musiciens intervenants or musicians in schools
The musician in school has to be both a musician and educator, and also a kind of project manager setting up local partnerships to carry out joint artistic and cultural projects in the frame of the ambitious artistic and cultural education program (EAC). The CFMI training centers therefore reinforce and enlarge the student’s musical and artistic skills, build up their teaching skills and train their organization and human relation skills.
In order to do so, they provide fifteen hundred hours of professional and academic training including 500 hours of internship in schools. During the two years of study, they give priority to collective and creative music projects both in training sessions and in practical teaching in classes. The university course therefore contains disciplines such as Arranging, Composing, Stage performing, Pedagogy (teaching methods and practical leadership), Musical techniques useful in classes (Instrumental accompaniment, Choir leading, Use of digital tools…). It also includes project management methodologies as well as a general knowledge of the educational system and cultural politics. Like the ESPE, the CFMI do not provide individual singing or instrument lessons. But unlike the master’s degree (MEEF) attributed by the ESPE, the university diploma awarded by the CFMI (DUMI) is a national diploma outside the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.
Nevertheless, both the ESPE and the CFMI are ready to welcome students from other countries all over Europe and the World. Welcome to France!