The educational system of Montenegro enables the children to continuously acquire music education during their studies. Music culture, as a compulsory subject is taught at all levels of the educational system in Montenegro.
If we start from pre-school education as the first degree in the education system, we notice that music activity is one of the seven activities carried out in everyday work with children. In the Programme the main recommendation is that singing, playing an instrument, listening to music, and music and movement, should enable the children to have individual expressions through music activities.
The main focus on music education is given at primary school. In Montenegro there are 163 state primary schools and 4 international primary schools. By means of the reform of whole educational system, that has been in progress over the last 15 years, elementary education in Montenegro lasts nine years (children from 6 to 15 years old), and it is divided into three cycles of equal duration. In the first cycle, Music Culture as a subject is represented in the Curriculum by one class a week. In the second cycle, it is represented by two classes, except in the sixth grade where the number of classes returns to one class a week. In the third cycle students have one class a week until the ninth grade when the total annual class load is reduced from 35 to 25 classes. In the first four grades the music culture course is taught by teachers. In the fifth grade the music course can be taught both by the teachers and professors, while from the sixth grade till the end of primary school, music culture is taught by qualified teachers who hold a degree from a Music Academy. The curriculum for the subject Music Culture in elementary schools especially highlights three main music activities: performance, listening and creativity. In primary school music is performed by means of reception and perception, listening to the music and by active music making. The general objectives of Music Culture as a subject have both musical and extramusical characteristics. It gives students the opportunity to develop a desire and sense of participation in various forms of music, to develop a desire to belong to the group, to develop communication skills and ability to cooperate through teamwork, to actively listen to music and perceive it and recognize its characteristics, and to develop the ability to create artistic content and perform music depending on individual preferences and age. As Montenegro is a multicultural environment, in the curriculum the emphasis is placed on the promotion of musical folklore of all nations that live in this area, but also one of the goals was to develop intercultural pedagogy through music culture teaching and to build a positive attitude toward the “other“.
Apart from regular classes, students can develop their musical abilities in extracurricular activities in the school choir and orchestra. In addition to the primary schools, the children can enrol in specialized music schools where they have free music education, which includes learning to play a musical instrument and taking classes on musical subjects.
After primary school, the students who enrol in General High School (Grammar School) have a school subject the Art of Music during one year of their studies, once a week,where the musicological activities are predominant in the curriculum and offer learning about the history of Western European classical music.
Music – My Language is an elective course which students attend in their third and fourth year, as an addition to the matura standards, and which allows them to broaden their knowledge of the field of music and develop their musical abilities.
There are five Music High Schools in Montenegro, which educate future professional musicians. In these schools, apart from regular musical subjects, there are also certain general education courses. After Music High School, the students continue their education at music academies in the country and abroad, educating themselves both for music artists and music pedagogues for different areas.
Before the reform of the educational system, music culture teaching was carried out by singing songs by ear, where little attention was paid to listening and acquiring of musicological content. The curriculums were written following the curriculums in other former Yugoslav countries, where the main emphasis was on singing. At that time there were a number of school choirs, which performed at different events. For children that exhibit a certain musical talent, there were and there still are general educational musical schools where the students attend classes in instruments, solfeggio, choir singing and orchestra. These schools are funded by state and are free for students.
Until the foundation of Music Academy at the University of Montenegro (school year 1980-1981) the teaching stuff were trained at other academies in the other republics of former Yugoslavia, mostly in Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo. Most of them only reached the first degree (two years of the Academy). The teachers sometimes had to combine the program with practice (which is a positive example of forced autonomy of teachers and matching the content to the needs of students.
Music Culture, similar to Fine Art and Physical Education, used to be marked by descriptive marks, which had its advantages (painful marking of students with weaker musical abilities) and disadvantages (perceiving the subject as “less important”). With the Reform of the educational system, a detailed analysis of the current situation was performed at all levels. It was observed that, after twenty years of efforts to improve the school system, this was the first deep approach which had as its goal fundamental changes in the way education was conducted. By making an attempt in the curriculum to achieve the “organic unity” of the four areas: knowledge and understanding, perception (analytical listening to music), performance (singing and playing an instrument), and creativity, by means of which a complete insight into music can be achieved, a new curriculum was created which, as many other curriculums after their evaluation, turned out to be too extensive. On the other hand, the authors of the curriculum, who were prominent primary teachers and special subjects teachers, for the first time created a curriculum that was suited to the needs of our students. First course books were published, which were created in cooperation with the Slovenian publisher Rokus and which motivated Montenegrin authors. In creating the curriculum, attention was paid to reaching a correlation between the subjects, as well as to making an equal representation of intercultural pedagogy through the listening and performance suggestions, which belong to the national and artistic creativity of all ethnic groups in Montenegro.