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About the Profession – Church Music

What is a Church Musician?

A church musician is a musician who is employed in a church to lead and develop the musical activities within the church.

Church musicians are both musicians and musical directors. They work with both creating and performing music themselves and leading musical activities which can range from children’s choirs to working with professional musicians.

Church musicians are both organists and choir leaders, and sometimes even vocalists and composers.

As music directors church musicians need well developed teaching, social and organisational skills, as well as an in-depth understanding of the role of music in religious contexts.

What does a Church Musician do?

A church musician plays the organ – and sometimes the piano – during church services and ceremonies such as christenings, weddings and funerals.

A church musician leads one or more choirs – sometimes also instrumental ensembles – and teaches confirmation students, music students and other members of the church who need musical training.

Church musicians take an active part in the development of church services and the inner workings of the church and are often responsible for organising concerts etc. which bridge the activities of the church with secular society.

Church musicians are almost always part of a working team which includes priests, parish social workers, church teachers, preschool teachers, churchyard workers, caretakers and chancery clerks.

Will I be able to get a job as a Church Musician?

Music plays an important role within many religious associations. The majority of church musicians in Sweden are employed by the Church of Sweden. There should be a church musician, either an organist or a cantor, in each of the Church of Sweden’s 1800 parishes, according to the regulations of the church. Large parishes employ more than one church musician, and sometimes even employ musicians without qualifications in church music but with other relevant musical experience and knowledge.

Chances of being employed are good within the foreseeable future. There are many positions and unemployment is low for church musicians. The declining membership of the Church of Sweden could change this situation over time. Church musicians are, however, an important part of the Church of Sweden historically, and a degree in church music provides students with good general musical qualifications which give good opportunities for employment even in the long term.

How do I become a Church Musician?

The Bachelor’s programme in Church Music prepares students to work professionally as an organist within the Church of Sweden and is also seen as a good general musical education.

The Master’s programme in Church Music prepares students to work professionally as an organist where musical and leadership demands are higher. The Master’s programme also prepares students for further studies at research level in Church Music.

The Cantor programme prepares students to work as cantors in the Church of Sweden.

A student who has completed the Cantor specialisation of the Music Teacher Programme will be qualified to work as both a music teacher and a cantor.

Why should I study in Malmö to become a Church Musician?

Our teachers are experienced tutors and excellent musicians and their cooperation with each other allows students to be well taken care of and guided. Our premises are functional, well maintained and pleasant and there is never any shortage of practice instruments.

The Malmö Academy of Music is a complete music academy with programmes in performance, teaching, church music as well as an exciting research environment. As a student of church music you are given the opportunity to mix with not only other students of church music but also students of orchestra, jazz and rock, music teaching, composition and much more.

The Malmö Academy of Music is also part of a rich international network. As a student here, you are given the opportunity to meet musicians from many other countries and are yourself given the opportunity to spend some of your study time at a music academy abroad due to the many exchange programmes the Malmö Academy of Music participates in.

The religious environment of the Malmö region is very diverse. There are traditional parishes of the Church of Sweden found in both rural and urban areas. In many parishes, in particular in Lund, Malmö and Helsingborg, new and exciting working methods and forms of expression are being consciously developed. Just across Öresund in Denmark, you can come in contact with different and inspiring traditions in another Lutheran national church, the Church of Denmark.

Malmö and the entire Öresund region are home to a very rich choir life and the organs found in the area include priceless treasures, national monuments and daring new designs. Countless museums and theatres, two opera houses and a total of seven symphony orchestras complete the picture of a culturally vibrant region.

Malmö itself is a little big city – or is it a big little city? Public transport has become comprehensive, fast and efficient since the Öresund bridge opened linking Malmö with the Danish capital Copenhagen. Denmark and Germany are now within easy reach as are Blekinge, Småland and Sweden’s west coast.

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