Harpblog runs an occasional series of articles about studying in different cities and countries. Thus far, I have written a grand total of one article in the series, about studying in Paris. The idea is to unravel the sometimes idiosyncratically-designed websites of individual conservatoires, and also provide information in English as this is not always easily available.
That said, today's 'Studying in...' post is about a country where the conservatoire websites are superbly well-organised, and most people speak better English than I do - the Netherlands. As those of you who attended the 2008 World Harp Congress in Amsterdam will have perceived, the Dutch harp scene is of a remarkably high level, with a rare combination of top technical standards plus musical open-mindedness and breadth. Excellent contemporary music, early harp, one of the best orchestras in the world in the form of the Concertgebouw and many great names of the harp world all belong to the Netherlands. Consider Edward Witsenburg, Erika Waardenburg, Petra van der Heide, Gwyneth Wentink, Lavinia Meijer, Ernestine Stoop, Anton Sie, Miriam Overlach...not to mention Remy van Kesteren and his team, who have put the Dutch Harp Festival firmly on the international map from its very first edition.
It is in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague (the latter two both half an hour's train ride from Amsterdam) that the principal Dutch conservatoires for the harp are found. Erika Waardenburg is professor in Amsterdam and Utrecht, assisted by Petra van der Heide in Amsterdam and Saskia Rekké for orchestral playing in Utrecht, and Constance Allanic for early music in Amsterdam. Ernestine Stoop is professor in The Hague, assisted by Anton Sie for ensemble and orchestral playing, and Mapje Keereweer for methodology and historical development.
All three schools offer a full spectrum of internationally-recognised Bachelor and Masters courses. This is particularly relevant if you are applying for a Bachelor or Masters course, after which you might want to pursue further studies elsewhere: since the Bologna Process began in 1999, not everywhere will accept an under- or postgraduate performance diploma instead of a BMus / MMus qualification. Additionally, the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague offers the PhD Arts, a practice-as-research doctoral programme, from its Academy of Creative and Performing Arts.
For the Bachelor and Masters programmes, course descriptions can be found as follows:
There is also a preparatory course for those who have left school, but are not yet ready for the Batchelor entrance auditions. The elective courses which complement your principal study cover a wide range of subjects, and some are even in English.
The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague (Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag)
In addition to their own entrance auditions and exams, Amsterdam and The Hague require the usual previous qualifications for Bachelor and Masters courses - A Levels / Bac / Abitur / VWO / equivalent secondary school leaving certificate for a Bachelor, and a completed Bachelor to enter the Masters course. Utrecht and Amsterdam have options for those without sufficient official qualifications, here (Utrecht) and here (Amsterdam).
Language is not a big barrier in Holland (unlike, for example, at the CNSM in Paris , where you have to pass a French exam before you can proceed to the harp audition). The Dutch are impressively accomodating about the use of English as a lingua franca, and there are various English-language study options at all the conservatoires discussed here. While it is common throughout the world for conservatoires to set a compulsory language test, it is possible to take this test in English at all three conservatoires. Of course, there is nothing to stop you learning Dutch. Languages always open doors.
Tutition fees vary according to your nationality, course and previous qualifications. At the time of writing the base rate starts at €1672 per academic year. This can rise to around €6500: all the conservatoire websites have pages where you can easily see which fee applies to you, and whether you are eligible for Dutch funding help (for Amsterdam's fees click here; Utrecht, here; The Hague, here).
Living costs are moderate-to-high for students at around €1000 a month: Amsterdam is obviously the most expensive place to live.
Scholarships and grants
EU / EEA citizens may be eligible for a Dutch study grant. If you are not eligible for this, you can apply for a Dutch study loan [which, unlike the grant, you have to pay back later]. The Amsterdam conservatorium website has a helpful section on financing your studies. Utrecht's website also provides information about the financial support they can additionally offer students.
For the entrance exam in Amsterdam: March 15th, 2011. Entrance exams take place in May and June.
In Utrecht: BMus April 15th, 2011. MMus: no deadline given, but the decisive intake session takes place from June, so the earlier half of the year would be the time to think about it. Contact the school for more information.
In The Hague: April 1st, 2011.