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An exciting initiative to renew higher music education in South Africa was launched at the NWU School of Music in Potchefstroom at the beginning of January 2018.

Higher music education faces some major challenges across South Africa, including a fast-changing student base, pressure to reform curricula both from within and without the university, and questions around what students will do once they graduate. In response, an open network was formed that aims to support the innovative work of South African academics in higher music education.

MICS networkThe ArtsEqual research consortium, which is based in Finland, was instrumental in the formation of this network together with the North-West University in South Africa, one of the ArtsEqual interaction partners. A three day round table discussion held in Potchefstroom on 10-12 January led to the formation of the network.

A group of 11 academics from the North-West University, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, and Tshwane University of Technology attended the discussions, which were facilitated by Helena Gaunt from Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Heidi Westerlund of Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki.

MICS networkOver the three days participants explored their shared values, discussed contemporary conservatories in South Africa and in Europe, considered both the potentials and challenges of conservatoire practice, engaged with different pedagogical approaches, and discussed the role of collaboration in facilitating change.

The network, which has provisionally been named MICS (Music, Innovation and Collaboration in Society) will aim to have bi-annual rotating meetings at which discussion of innovative practices and ideas will be exchanged and at which some of the challenges and opportunities of conservatoire practice will be further discussed.

The next meeting is planned to be hosted by the University of Pretoria in September. Interested parties can contact Dr Albi Odendaal.

{ Photos courtesy of Marius Coetzee, Odeion School of Music (UFS) }