Music in Schools (CH)

Afbeelding2Part of being human is the creation and cultivation of culture. Our participation in The Arts and in culture in the form of music allows us to connect with those around us on a musical level and even to transcend cultural boundaries.  

Within schools, which serve as centres of learning and culture, music education makes an important contribution to a democratically empowered society by enabling children and young people to practise both aesthetic judgement and tolerance. These practices are encouraged through a practical approach to music; through vocal, auditive, aesthetic and physical experiencing, through the learning of instruments and through the application of musical knowledge.

Music lessons provide a space in which children are given the opportunity to look into their relationship with themselves, with others and with their cultural environment. Curriculum 21 aims to develop musical appreciation and competency by focusing on six main criteria, as follows:

Area Description Competence
Singing and speaking Vocal ensemble

The voice as a means of expression

Song repertoire

Pupils experience singing as part of a group and can sing differentiated in a choir.
Pupils exercise their voice and can appreciate and develop tonal expression.
Pupils can sing songs from a variety periods, styles and cultures.
Listening and orientation Acoustic orientation

Encountering music from the past and present

The meaning and function of music

Pupils can perceive their environment and themselves within it.
Pupils can differentiate different musical elements.
Pupils can identify music from various periods, genres and cultures and with tolerance.
Pupils can differentiate acoustic and musical elements and assess their emotional and physical effects. They can assess the various meanings, functions and effects of music within their own environment,
in society and in the media.
Movement and dance Sensorimotor training



Dance repertoire

Pupils can feel and use their own bodies in relation to music.
Pupils can use their bodies (with and without other objects or materials) to express themselves to music, alone and within a group.
Pupils can coordinate their motor skills to music.
Pupils can apply and develop their movements to a variety of different music.
Making music Playing in an ensemble

The instrument as a means of expression


Pupils experience themselves as independent musicians and integrate themselves within an ensemble.
Pupils can play music and improvise with instruments, other sound-sources and electronic media.
Pupils can actively differentiate various types of sound-production, understand the physics behind it, and know different instruments.
The creative process Musical exploration

Musical performance

Recreating music

Presenting themes musically

Pupils can gather different impressions from their environment and put their own music to them.
Pupils can present their musical abilities to an audience.
Pupils can take existing music, recreate it and present it in a different way
Pupils can present different themes musically
Application of musical
Basic competencies


Pupils can recognise, name and apply rhythmic, melodic and harmonic elements.
Pupils can both read and notate traditional music notation and recognise different graphical forms of music notation.

Switzerland is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 federal provinces, known as “cantons”. Each of the 26 cantons, in cooperation with its local municipalities, has primary responsibility for its own compulsory education system. The majority of students (95%) complete compulsory education at a state school in the municipality in which they live, whilst 5% attend private schools. All cantons provide one to two years of free pre-school education, except for the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino which provides three. With these pre-school years included, compulsory education in Switzerland lasts for around eleven years. Whilst the federal and decentralised nature of compulsory education allows for the accommodation of regional and cultural differences, new initiatives are now working towards the broader harmonisation of educational objectives.

Post-compulsory education is governed by both cantonal and  federal authorities, which each have their own responsibilities. Around 90% of young people complete upper secondary education around 18 or 19, to then start work, begin higher vocational training or with a “matura”/ ”baccalaureate” to continue on to university.

Link: The Swiss Educational System

Music Education in School (Canton of Zürich)

Type of school






Further activities
Kindergarten /
Pre-school (3–6)
1 *
* Music and Movement (MuB) is recommended
in preparation for the MEZ
(see primary school) or for individual instrumental lessons. MuB is taught in groups of 6 – 10 children, for 45 minutes per week.
Primary & Middle School (7–11)

Years 1–6

2 *
Active Listening
& Making Music
* In Year 1 and 2 “Elementary Music Education” (MEZ) is integrated within the weekly time-table at 2x
45 minutes per week, taught in half-classes.
Junior Choir I – III

From Year 2 onwards children are selected from the MEZ to join and have additional compulsory
one-to-one singing tuition.
“Regional Choir”

For children who do not wish to have one-to-one singing tuition, this choir can be attended free of charge alongside instrumental tuition.
Instrumental Tuition

Varies according to institution.

Lower Secondary School (12–15)

Years 7–9

1 – 2 *
Active Listening
& Making Music
* In Year 7 & 8 three hours of music or art per week are compulsory.  One of these hours must be music.
1 – 2 *  

* In Year 9 a minimum of
one and up to two hours of music per week are optional.

School choir and band opportunities vary across schools.
Upper Secondary School / Gymnasium


Years 10–12

2 – 4 *
Making music, music theory, music history, classical music, pop
& rock.
* Options: music or art.Music: 2-4 hours per week. Individual instrumental tuition is also an option, varying in frequency and duration.
Talented students can visit
the Art and Sports Gymnasium for up to 7 music lessons per week.
A music preparation course
is available at the University
of the Arts.
Choir, band, ensemble and orchestral opportunities vary from school to school.