3rd European Music School Symposium

Music Schools and Their Ecosystems

Building Sustainable Futures  

University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, 67 October 2023

Department of Music Education Research, Music Didactics and Elementary Music Making (IMP

Partners: European Music School Union (EMU), Conference of Austrian Music School Associations (KOMU)






For the third time, the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, together with its two collaboration partners KOMU and EMU, organised the European Music School Symposium in Vienna. The symposium aims to gather music school researchers, teachers, leaders, former and current students, representatives from music school organisations and from municipalities, university/conservatoire teachers and professors, and others who are committed to the development of strong, inspiring, and resilient music schools.

In 2023, the theme was sustainability, understood as the cultural, social, environmental and economic conditions that present and future generations need in order to live well. Our premise was that the chances of living a meaningful and musical life are determined by many systemic interactions and interdependencies in society. Similarly, music schools can only subsist and flourish in favourable ecosystems: through interactions within communities that care strongly about education in the arts, social coherence, and long-term environmental security.
The different dimensions and conditions of sustainability in music school contexts range from high educational and musical quality and encouraging pedagogies to sufficiently broad aims, inclusion, financial stability, and efficient energy use. Protecting what is valuable and changing what is untenable can be a challenge that requires the right combination of knowledge, resources, and joint efforts. Across Europe, visions and projects for sustainability are currently being born in music schools, local administrations, and music school research. The symposium is a great place to share expertise, strategies, practices, and new ideas – and to form international, cross-institutional, collegial networks that can strengthen the daily work in and for sustainable music schools.

The programme included talks by two distinguished keynote speakers, Dr. Catherine Grant from Australia and Prof. Ortwin Renn from Germany, as well as over 40 presentations and panels by music school researchers and practitioners from 17 countries. The traditional KOMU music school concert on the evening of 6 October and the closing dinner on 7 October provided excellent opportunities to share experiences and to broaden and deepen European exchanges. During the closing ceremony, young music school students from Sweden and Austria presented their ideas and concerns on sustainability along with two short films on the topic, ending the symposium with the voices of the young generation. 

The 2023 symposium gathered 170 participants from 26 countries. In line with the theme of the symposium and its commitment to environmental and economical sustainability, participation was possible on location in Vienna or on Zoom. 

In connection with the symposium, a doctoral forum on 5 October gathered 14 doctoral researchers from eight countries to share and discuss their work and projects and to plan future collaborations.



We organised this event in accordance with the guidelines of the internal quality label fairanstalten_mdw. weniger ist mehr in order to contribute to resource conservation, climate protection, regional added value and awareness raising.

If you would like to find out more about the university's commitment to the environment, please visit the "green mdw" website: www.mdw.ac.at/gruene-mdw



Post-symposium publication:

Special issue of the Finnish Journal of Music Education (FJME) on sustainability in music education

Guest editor: Assistant Professor Cecilia Björk, mdw

FJME 01/2024, due to appear in June 2024. Please visit https://sites.uniarts.fi/web/fjme