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What to expect as a student at the prestigious Sibelius Academy

Source: Sibelius Academy

Are you passionate about studying music abroad at university level? How about studying in the world’s happiest country? Well, the distinguished Sibelius Academy is expecting you!

Sibelius Academy, part of the University of the Arts Helsinki, is located in the a beautiful seaside city of Helsinki, Finland – a nation named the world’s happiest in the World Happiness Report 2018. As Finland’s only university-level music institution, Sibelius Academy stands as one of the largest and most prestigious music academies in Europe, hosting over 1,400 students, 1,000 members of staff and placing 6th in the world in the field of Performing Arts.

Don’t worry if Finnish isn’t your first language, because courses here are taught in English, allowing you to fully focus on your creative studies. Not only that, but “everyone speaks really good English here,” according to Ayako Higurashi, a student currently persuing her masters at Sibelius


Academy.Bachelor courses offered include Classical Music Performance in a full range of orchestral instruments, Composition and Music Theory, Folk Music, Jazz, Music Education and Conducting to name a few. More information about the courses available at Sibelius Academy Admissions guide 2019.

Stephen Webb, a Composition student from the US as well as a pianist and organist, praises the course’s flexibility: “…the university offers a lot of space for you to find your artistic identity. If you want to organise a concert yourself, it is actually quite easy…You can choose studies from the other Uniarts academies as well as from other Finnish universities, according to your academic interests.”

The Academy provides the opportunity to broaden your musical education, for example Higurashi, whose specialism lies in playing the euphonium, took the opportunity to experience music in a different way:  “At Sibelius Academy it’s great that you can try out other things as well, not just stick with your own instrument. For example, I took an African dance course as part of my minor studies.”

A few students have the chance to participate in the annual Creative Dialogue workshop, which was most recently held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in July. This offers young instrumentalists and composers the opportunity to learn new repertoire and experience the creative dialogue between music and performers.

In terms of facilities, Sibelius Academy is one of three operating organisations of the Helsinki Music Centre – home to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Here, students can find inspiration at the rehearsals and concerts of both orchestras, as well as free entrance to most of Uniarts Helsinki’s performances on university premises.

The Sibelius Academy Music Library is located at the Centre and presents a space where you can listen to records, borrow sheet music, research and view music videos. On top of the Helsinki Music Centre, Sibelius Academy uses two other buildings in the heart of the city, complete with excellent facilities.

The students can also attend courses at other university academies, including the Academy of Fine Arts and Theatre Academy. Moreover, students have the chance to collaborate in multidisciplinary productions as part of their studies. Uniarts Helsinki offers the highest education in fine arts, music, theatre and dance in over 30 study programmes. Degree levels range from bachelor’s and master’s to doctoral level.

Source: Sibelius Academy

So, what does it take to be admitted to Uniarts Helsinki? The next application period for Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes is the 9th to the 23rd of January 2019, during which time you will fill out an online application and, if required by your programme, submit your pre-examination assignments to the Admissions Office.

Your entrance exam either in person or via video in some instruments will then be held during spring. More detailed instructions and timetables can be found on the Uniarts Helsinki website. Current student Aino Tenkanen gives some insight into the entrance examination in this interview. One great way to experience and try out Uniarts Helsinki, is to join the Sibelius Summer Academy, a Summer Academy the university is piloting in summer, 2019.

But it gets even better than the world-class amenities, since you will pay little, maybe even nothing in terms of tuition! For non-EU/non-EEA students, the maximum tuition fee is 5,000€/year, but the Uniarts Helsinki has introduced a scholarship system that can cover the tuition fee either in full of partially. For more information click here.

Uniarts Helsinki makes sure your student experience will be as worry free, productive and vibrant as possible, with the Finnish Student Healthcare Service available to all students, extensive student discounts offered, plus affordable healthy lunches on offer.

Many student cafeterias located across Helsinki serve student meals costing around €2.60, keeping you warm and healthy all year round. Learners receive a 30–50 percent discount on public transport, including national rail, bus and coach services as well as reduced entrance fees at many cultural venues.

“There is an abundance of opportunities here, don’t be too shy or hesitant about seizing them,” says Ayako Higurashi. What have you got to lose?

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