If you study history or English literature, or indeed music at a general university, you can take your BA and become a lawyer, a management consultant, an accountant, a business development manager, or many other things. You can even become a harpist, because many postgraduate performance courses do not require a first degree in music. If, however, you decide to study for a performance or pedagogic degree at a conservatoire or academy, your course is vocational - you definitely want to be a musician. Music colleges therefore have more concrete obligations than universities, to equip their students for the world of work.
The Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt has known this for years: Germany's "oldest and most modern" music training centre is a "Berufsakademie", an academy for a job. It supports its students energetically, with a wide network of professional partners who provide diverse opportunities, from new music, to jazz, to pastoral directions. There is also a special focus pedagogic qualifications, with a sister music school allowing students to put their studies into practice.
Anne-Sophie Bertrand, Principal Harp with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, is the new teacher in Darmstadt. "I really appreciate the commitment the Akademie has to supporting its students, and preparing them for professional life", she says. "The students are motivated and enquiring, keen to seize every opportunity and make the most of what is on offer to them.