Study Music Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to Studying Music Abroad

Studying music abroad is the perfect way to jumpstart your career in an industry that is becoming more internationally connected, and one that now demands proficiency in a wide range of global styles and approaches. Often you will get to study a musical style in the place it originated while also experiencing how local or traditional music has been fused into a vibrant and quickly changing contemporary scene. Music administrators will learn new approaches to management and how the music industry varies widely within different legal and cultural frameworks through music study abroad programs.

Why Study Music Abroad

Music--perhaps more than any of the other performing arts--has been profoundly influenced by globalization and new technology that allows instant sharing of information across cultural and geographical borders. A truly talented professional musician must not only master his/her instrument, but should be able to adapt to a wide range of styles when playing in an ensemble. A truly talented music producer or administrator should be aware of international music trends and how to navigate an increasingly complex worldwide music industry.

Participating in music study abroad programs gives musicians a fresh perspective on their instruments, which often includes learning an entirely new style of playing that can stand alone or be integrated into other genres. Music producers and administrators gain experience working in unfamiliar environments and the ability to adapt to a wide range of circumstances.


Studying music abroad is certainly not limited to instruction in a university classroom. There are conservatories, music academies, recording studios, record labels, opera houses, symphony halls, and countless other musical institutions that are prime locations to study music abroad. Depending on your interests and the willingness of your home institution to offer academic credit for a non-traditional education experience, you might consider a music internship for hands-on learning and the chance to see how music functions in a real-world context beyond the ivory towers of a university, or even a music-focused volunteer program to enhance your own musical abilities by leading workshops and teaching young people, while also experiencing the power of music for education, social change, and development. 

Every destination has its own unique traditions and musical offerings and you will want to choose where to study based on your specific interests, language abilities, and the strength of instruction in your instrument. However, some of the best countries to study music abroad are:

Ghana, where music is integrated into every aspect of life and the University of Ghana has direct ties to the National Theatre, which is one of the foremost performance venues in the country;

Italy, where musicians have the unique opportunity to study opera in its birthplace and dive into a thriving jazz and rock scene in big cities like Rome;

Brazil, where recognizable styles like samba, bossa nova, and choro can be heard daily, and cities like Salvador boast an eclectic blending of styles inspired by the African influence brought by slaves centuries ago;

India, where popular musicians such as the Beatles have retreated to study with masters, and where each region has its own distinct musical style and dozens of unique instruments.

Courses & Programs

Unlike many other disciplines, music is often taught in very small classes or in one-on-one lessons. In many cultures, musicians are identified at a young age based on their talent or natural inclination toward performing, and assigned as an apprentice to a master musician. The teacher-student relationship is paramount in many places, and thus students studying music abroad are often pleasantly surprised by a large amount of individual attention.

The best time to study music abroad varies widely from location to location. Some points to consider include if and when there are large music festivals happening, the timing of a venue’s performance season, and the term structure of universities and conservatories. Many universities offer music study abroad programs that follow a standard two-semester schedule with the first semester running from August or September through December, and the second semester running from January to May.

For musicians hoping to train in their instrument, expect an audition or placement process. Often schools will accept a video audition, but some may also require an in-person placement audition upon arrival. For this reason, it is important for musicians to stay open-minded and flexible when considering their music study abroad course options. Be sure to select a large number and wide range of courses that will be approved by your home institution in case you don’t qualify for some, or if a particular instructor only has room for a limited number of students per semester.


Think of the truly great musicians of our time. Nearly every one of them has collaborated internationally, and most popular contemporary styles are a blend of genres from many places. Music study abroad programs give you the chance to immerse yourself in a particular style, and to train with some of the most talented musicians in the world who play in that style. It also makes you more versatile as a musician, which is one of the single most important qualities for having a successful career in the music industry.

For music administrators and producers, music study abroad programs can give you new tools for addressing challenges by learning to think creatively and adapt to any situation. Working at a recording studio in a well-known city or helping to manage an international artist are ways to broaden your portfolio and show future employers that you have what it takes to work in a fast-moving cutthroat industry.

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
Studying Music Abroad


 Find Music Study Abroad Programs Now


This listing has been saved 3 times

Irish World Academy Summer Music Intensive

Train in Irish music at The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWA) this summer! This two-week intensive is built around a central structure of small master classes, where you will have an unparalleled level of access to tutors who are leading experts and performers on a specific instrument (or voice). Lectures, illustrated talks, workshops, and other activities are packed around the maste...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Arts and Culture in Cameroon

Carleton College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, now operates the long-established Arts and Culture in Cameroon program previously offered by Antioch Education Abroad. The Arts and Culture in Cameroon program allows students to expand their creative faculties in the visual and performing arts in an enriching cross-cultural learning environment. Students develop a foundation ...


This listing has been saved 4 times

AIFS Study Abroad in Prague, Charles University: Semester

Spend a semester or academic year in the picturesque city of Prague with AIFS. Earn up to 18 credits studying at Charles University. Courses are taught in English or Czech, with no previous Czech language study required. Orientation includes a 2-week Czech Language and Culture course to help you acclimate to life in Prague, where you'l live in a university residence hall with meal allowance...


This listing has been saved 1 time

Boston University: Dresden German Studies Program

The Boston University Dresden German Studies Program places students at the Technische Universität Dresden, one of the oldest and most prestigious technical universities in Germany. By enrolling directly at the university, students have a great opportunity to get an insight into the academic culture in Germany, improve German language proficiency, and study and live among German and other inter...


This listing has been saved 27 times

Athena Study Abroad's Semester and Summer Programs

Experience total cultural immersion while taking Music courses abroad. Athena Study Abroad provides high-quality study abroad experiences that involve deeply rewarding cultural exchanges. They work with key universities and small schools to provide academic programs that match students’ requirements and individual preferences.


This listing has been saved 9 times

Study Abroad with Syracuse University

Syracuse University offers study abroad programs in Music. Students have the option to stay with a local family or live in an apartment with other participants. Some placements require two semesters of the host country's native language to be eligible for qualification. Music programs are offered in England, Italy, Turkey, and France, and are limited to American participants only.


This listing has been saved 3 times

CIEE Language and Culture in Lisbon, Portugal

Without a doubt, Lisbon is a happening place to study abroad. Each year, the beautiful capital city hosts numerous international events, including the world’s biggest music festival, Rock in Rio-Lisboa. There’s always something to do while exploring and enhancing your understanding of Portuguese society and culture. You’ll enroll in a variety of courses in both English and Portuguese, stay with...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Integrated Studies Program - Seville

Integrated Spanish Studies semester abroad in Seville gives advanced Spanish-level students the unique opportunity to take classes alongside Spanish students at Universidad de Sevilla, while benefiting from the cultural guidance, language tools, and academic quality that defines Spanish Studies Abroad programming. The program integrates thoughtful synthesis of homestays/life in the residencia...


This listing has been saved 14 times

New York University Florence

Located on a stunning 57-acre estate, NYU Florence is set amidst beautifully manicured gardens, cypress-studded hills, and olive groves. The centerpiece, Villa La Pietra, is a magnificent 15th-century mansion that houses an Early Renaissance art collection and is the venue for an active lecture series featuring notable writers, historians, and global leaders. Four other villas complete the esta...