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Master in Musical Leadership

The Master in Musical Leadership is a principal subject course within the Master of Music degree. The target group comprises students holding a Bachelor of Music in Education (ODM) or a Bachelor of Music. The master offers the knowledge and skills required to be able to lead musical projects in a range of community settings. Completion of this master's programme leads to the international degree of Master of Music (MMus). 
Key features are: 

  • foundation in practice, with social-music music projects and/or social-music education projects
  • strengthening of the student's own musical expertise and musicianship
  • research
  • enhancement of a professional practice, where making music and creative entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand


We offer a practical and reflective teaching environment over a two-year (120 credits) programme. The course centres around musical production, leadership and research within a socio-musical context or educational school/non-school work. As a musical leader, the student will be dealing with a range of target groups within society. The starting points will be the student's own interests and fascinations. From there, the master's programme focuses on topical (social) community music issues such as participation and inclusion. We zoom in on the creative process and the resources (practical, theoretical and research-related) that are needed to set up and accomplish a participatory project as a musical leader. These projects are the stepping-stones from which other modules are offered. Individual coaching sessions are interspersed with working groups, seminars, research modules and tailored music-making courses. 

Core values: participation, connection, inclusion

The master's programme is based fairly and squarely on the connective power of music. Music resonates with every single person. Music is a vehicle for endless amounts of music-making, from which we consciously or subconsciously arrive at shared experiences and meanings. Music lets us forge connections - with the world outside, with one another (for instance at musical festivals), with the past (those suffering from dementia), with events in a particular place or culture, with our souls and emotions, and with beauty and aesthetics. [Boele, Bisschop E. (2014). De Muzikale Ander. [Groningen: Hanze Kenniscentra, University of Applied Sciences.]
The study programme accordingly concentrates on musical inclusion, on practical music-making and musical experiences accessible by and for a wide range of groups in society, including the socially disadvantaged. 

Building blocks of musical leadership

Social-musical projects bring practice, theory and research together, thanks to these building blocks of musical leadership.

Practice indicates the musical projects that the student initiates and carries through:

  • musicianshipand artistic practice; the objectives here are to enhance musical leadership and to highlight the students individual musical signature and expertise.

The knowledge and information required to support musical leadership, including:

  • project management: chaordic project management, knowledge of leadership styles, business modelling
  • music pedagogy: employing perspectives from pedagogy in designing musical projects
  • insight into socio-cultural context: i.e. the community  that has an impact on the aims and results of the social-music or educational project;

Design-orientedresearch is the systematic and integrated development of solutions to problems in practice. Musical leadership is articulated through topic-based research, allowing students to position their projects in a broader research context.

Programme subjects

The master's course lasts two years. Related to the building blocks of musical leadership are the subjects of the master's programme, with, in each year:
1. project design
2. musicianship: artistic practice related to personal artistic development and the projects
3. theory in:
a. working groups and thematic seminars dealing with project management, music pedagogy, current developments in the field,
b. intervision meetings covering the progress of projects and personal development
4. research, linked to the projects
5. master electives
6. open subjects

The project

Working on projects is a key element of the curriculum. The student is looking for projects that can provide an innovative impulse to the field of community music, proceeding from the starting points of participation, connection and inclusion.

A project might be an inter-generational ‘choir for young and old’; a project where refugees and local residents compose musical narratives together; a musical project where people with some form of disability present a musical performance that makes them heard; setting up an inclusive project ensemble that concentrates on urgent questions from socio-cultural contexts, ranging from hospitals to local neighbourhoods; producing a musical event with the residents of a care home and their local neighbours.

On the basis of project, there will be an examination of what is needed to enhance and enrich the expertise that the student already possesses. This may be divided partly between a fixed course programme and partly meeting the student's individual learning requirements. For each project, students must: 

  • initiate, set up, implement and lead the projects
  • address and deploy their own artistic signature
  • apply expertise in music pedagogy, appropriate to the nature of the project
  • demonstrate a connection within the community environment
  • enter into structural collaborative arrangements with the relevant stakeholders
  • develop a project plan with a realistic business/project model

Practical Information

Students' Experiences

This master challenged me to look at places where music, beyond the stage and the classroom, could also be beneficial. For two years I was allowed to dig, listen, read and research musical interaction between the elderly and children. After I had measured and seen the effects, it became clear to me: all participants, young and old, enjoy and benefit from intergenerational musical contact. It has therefore become my goal to make this more accessible and more self-evident in the primary school (art) curriculum.
The master taught me to do both literature and field research, to fully immerse myself in a subject and thereby gave me the space to broaden myself musically. It opened new doors and gave old knowledge more foundation. A true addition to my Bachelor of Music in Education.

Noa Samson

In the last year of the Music in Education programme I specialised in education for disabled children. I learned how to teach and to design music experience lessons for children with multiple disabilities. Music experience lessons focus on the senses and how they interact when experiencing music. I found it very inspiring to see what impact these music experience lessons had on the children and their connection with others. 

In the Master in Musical Leadership I got the opportunity to delve further into this topic. I carried out a project in which I composed music for these music experience lessons. I researched the elements which this music must consist of in order be suitable for this approach. Next, I looked into the effects of this music on the approach and on the children. By setting up and carrying out this educational music project, I learned about my inquiring, managerial, designing and compositional sides. The master allowed me to develop these new, totally different roles. 

My mission for the next years is to do more research into the written compositions and their effect on the sensory experience of music. Additionally, I want to see if besides special education I can compose for other target groups as well. Finally, with the multi-modal toolbox I have developed, I want to increase awareness of these music experience lessons and show the power that sensory experience of music has. This toolbox contains my own music and has been developed especially for music teachers and music therapists to acquaint themselves in a playful way with music experience lessons and how to design them. 

Iris van Doggenaar