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Lotta Palin: I welcome you to our Admissions chat, my name is Lotta Palin, I work at the Sibelius Academy Admissions Office as a senior adviser. First, before we begin, we would like to remind you that these event’s audio will be recorded and please keep your mics on mute and your videos off, if you have any questions feel free to put them to the chat and we’ll answer them in a specific timeslot and please enjoy. First, we have our vice deans Tanja Johansson and Markus Utrio, welcome. If you would first introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about your own faculties.
Tanja Johansson: Thank you Lotta and hello and nice to meet you all. So, my name is Tanja Johansson, and I am responsible for the faculty of music education; Jazz music, Folk music, Global music, music technology, art management and doctoral studies related to these subjects. Nice to hear you all here.
Markus Utrio: Hello, I don’t know whether I should say good morning or good afternoon or good evening but anyway, nice to see you and nice to be here with you. My name is Markus Utrio, and I am responsible for the faculty of classical music, and in the field of classical music we have a number of departments, I hope I remember them when I try to list them. So, we have strings, we have winds, we have piano and related instruments, we have vocal departments including opera and repetiteurs, we have early music which means historically informed performance practice and historical instruments. Then we have conducting, then we have composition and music theory, we have church music and we have a doctoral school for classical music.
Lotta Palin: So, let’s get straight to the questions. Tanja, maybe you would like to start. So, what is the Sibelius Academy like and what are the advantages compared to other top music schools around the world.
Tanja Johansson: Well first of all, I would say that we are an innovative, passionate, vibrant and caring community of music makers, teachers and researchers. We are also one of the largest music universities in the whole Europe and actually one of the oldest. We were established already 1882 so we have a long history of educating high quality musicians and teachers and researchers. So that’s kind of one of our big assets. What are the advantages then compared to other top music schools in the world? I would say that, as you already heard we have a great variety of different study programs from classical music to (different) (-) in global music, jazz, folk music, music education and so on. So, I would think that that’s a great asset that having diversity because it provides different opportunities to our students to focus on. I think that those are some of the advantages of studying at the Sibelius Academy.
Markus Utrio: And if we take a little bit broader aspect about what is Sibelius Academy like and what is the Finnish higher education and Finnish educational system like, I think that includes some advantages as well compared with other top music schools. When we think about the Northern cosiness that the low hierarchy, the everyday interaction we have, the morning coffees we deans are having with our students regularly, that is something that I think in the international rank is exceptional. So, in Finland, I don’t know if you have heard about our educational system but as we are a small country we really need and we want to encourage each individual to cultivate their talent to the highest possible level, so we need all the students as individuals and we encourage everybody as individuals and plan the studies and all our pedagogical activities on the needs of each individual student.
Lotta Palin: So, as for the next question, what is it like to study at your faculty and what sort of student material are you looking for and what would you say are the most important qualities in a Sibelius Academy applicant?
Tanja Johansson: Well, I can start. Although it is quite difficult to give one overarching answer, “what kind of qualities.. what are we looking for?” because we have those different programs and different paths to take but something as I already said that we are kind of an innovative and passionate community. So, that is also what we are looking for in our students, that you are really passionate about your field of music, your way of making music, your way of expressing your music. That’s one thing that-, might be kind of common to our students.
Markus Utrio: Yea, I would say as well that this is a tricky question because there is not one prototype of student we are looking for because we are looking for enthusiastic music makers, we are looking for people who want to develop their talent in order to have an impact in the society, in order to make an impact on the world by their artmaking and that doesn’t fit into a certain type. So I would say that we are looking for musicians of high quality but with a genuine will to have a meaningful life and meaningful career as a musician.
Lotta Palin: Thank you, so for the question, what is the average acceptance rate to Sibelius Academy? And how many new students are accepted each year? And something our applicants usually want to know is why should one apply if only one or two people are accepted to a program each year?
Tanja Johansson: Well, I was responsible for the numbers today, our acceptance rate last year was 13% and so not that high and we accepted 193 students, that’s kind of an approximation that we take every year and then we had approximately 1500 applicants last year. That was about the numbers. But yea, why should someone apply even if only a small number can be accepted? Well, Markus then you can add, but in addition to that, what we already said so that we provide a vibrant, interesting, diverse context for studying music and research in music so I think that’s quite unique. What we also offer is the different levels from Bachelor’s to Master’s all the way through to Doctoral studies. But I would also add that studying in Helsinki, Helsinki is actually quite a nice city, well, you might know the weather in Finland but besides it’s a safe city, it’s a well-functioning city, it’s a culturally vibrant city. I think that’s also an important part of when making decisions to apply and to study in another country.
Markus Utrio: To the latter question, why should I apply for only 1 or 2 are accepted, so if nobody applied then we couldn’t accept anybody so why wouldn’t that 1 or those 2 be you? And when we think what is the path for a young musician? All the challenges you face, you grow with them, you learn something from them so I think as well that from the application procedure, when you apply and you prepare the material for the application, you learn a lot. Then when we think that the number is low that is accepted, that means of course that you really-, we recommend you to invest to really work hard for the application process. Next year again, the application will be mostly online so be prepared in time and prepare your recordings so that you can be proud of them and that you learn something from the process.
Lotta Palin: There’s a question from Katariina asking, how many people are usually accepted in the Arts Management program?
Tanja Johansson: Well, usually it has been around 15 students every second year.
Lotta Palin: And to everyone listening, I could also add that our statistics from the previous 4 years can be found on the uniArts website so if you are interested you can of course go and see the program specific numbers from there. And there’s actually a question from Ester asking, how many people are accepted into the Music Technology program?
Tanja Johansson: It has varied a bit but usually it’s between 6-8.
Lotta Palin: Yes, and there’s also the statistics link in the chat for everybody interested. Okay, so onto the next question. This is something we get asked a lot and it’s like, can you complete your degree in a shorter time frame than the standard 5.5 years when you are studying for both the bachelor’s and the Master’s or that 2.5 years if you are studying for the Master’s only? And there was a question sent to us beforehand asking, is it possible to only study the bachelor’s or do you have to study the master’s also if you are accepted?
Markus Utrio: This is an interesting question, because normally musicians ask whether it’s possible to study longer than the normal time frame because everybody is so interested in developing their skills and their talents that it’s not very asked whether you can complete your degree in a shorter time frame. But, well of course it depends on your prior skills and your prior knowledge. So, if you have prior skills and prior knowledge on University level, then of course that can be taken to be a part of your degree and in that case, you can complete the degree in a shorter time too. Then in Finland we have this speciality that when you apply for Bachelor’s, you will be accepted to the master’s with the same audition so after you have completed the Bachelor’s you don’t have to audition again for the Master’s. But naturally most of our students do so but naturally it’s possible to do only the Bachelor’s, we don’t keep anybody here prisoned.
Lotta Palin: The next question we have is about the professions, the students usually continue after graduating, how many or what kind of job opportunities are there for international students after graduation in Finland?
Tanja Johansson: Well, as we have that many different study programs, people end up working in different parts of the music field. At music schools teaching music in comprehensive school, so high schools, working at musician, as a composer, as a pedagogy, very different things but also more and more it can be within the health sector or working with the community engagement project and that kind of thing. Particularly in music technology people might end up having their firm or then they end up working in a private company, whether that could be in game company or film companies. So, it’s kind of a varied field and I think that’s very important. In the beginning of the studies to have a kind of open mind and broad perspective of the field, of the music field and of the arts field in general because there are many different opportunities that you can do with your education.
Markus Utrio: My home office is hit by the storm; I hope you don’t hear it. (laughs) I think we should ask you actually, what kind of professions do you see that there will be for young musicians and young artists in the near future. Because when we think about the arts education and music education at the university level, you will be having skills and insights to develop the whole society and what will be the role of art and artists and music and musicians in shaping the future of our society? So, we can tell about how our alumni get employed at the moment but we have no idea what will happen in 5 or 6 years but when we think about the international students opportunities for employment in Finland then we come of course to the language question because in Finland the official languages are Finnish and Swedish. So if you think about working with children or elderly people then it might be tricky if you cannot communicate with them either in Finnish or in Swedish but then when we think for instance symphony orchestras or pedagogical work or research work in higher education, in orchestras and in higher education English is now in Finland very often used as the primary working language. So, most likely the pedagogical work with children is possible only if you have communication skills in Finnish or Swedish but with English there will be some job opportunities. But of course, I would encourage everybody who comes to Finland for 5 and ½to use this opportunity to get to know the Finnish culture and either one of the Finnish national languages because that will be a capital that you certainly will benefit in the global future when you have good knowledge and good personal understanding of strange remote culture like Finland. And we actually at the university, we support your improvement of the language skills.
Lotta Palin: So, for our next question, what kind of international cooperation does Sibelius Academy have with different music schools and are the students able to take part?
Tanja Johansson: Yes, I would say that we are generally an international music university. It is in many different ways. First of all, as many universities have international exchange programs available for the students but also teachers are encouraged to participate in teachers exchange, which kind of is an important part of our community that we get new ideas, new skills to bring here at home. I think that our learning environment is international because we have quite many international students, we have a diversity of students from different continents, from different countries, from different cultures. And of course, we have this new visitor program, we have visiting professors, we have a summer academy which is very international, inviting international students to collaborate with us.
Markus Utrio: That is an important part that we tried to create an international learning environment here in Helsinki, so that is one part and then another part is that we do have different cooperation projects with other music academies from different countries and from different continents. Most students during their studies have a possibility to apply, to take part in one of these international cooperations. Well now they have been postponed because of the COVID situation but this academic year we were supposed to have a symphony orchestra together with Singapore and Geneva. We were supposed to have opera production together with Southern California and next year we were supposed to have a symphony orchestra production together with another university in the States and Australia. So we have these projects and then the other part is the internationalisation, the international learning environment we try to provide and create here in Helsinki.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. There’s actually one question concerning the last topic we were on, this is Tanja, it’s from Cortes asking, is it possible for someone who completes a degree in music performance to go on to be a primary or secondary music educator or must one complete both the bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in music education? And this is asked because he wants to become a teacher but will need time while studying to master the Finnish language first.
Tanja Johansson: Okay, the official requirement for comprehensive schools and high schools is a master’s degree completed so that is one of the requirements. And of course, the language skills, so encouraging to start learning Finnish very early when starting the studies.
Markus Utrio: And another aspect to the pedagogical studies in Finland is that now this question-, Tanja’s answer was about the comprehensive school and the senior high school. But then all the other pedagogical work, for instance in music schools, like music afternoon schools, in conservatoires, in higher education, for that we have a special pedagogical education that is 60 credits and combined with a university degree it gives a general teachers qualification and we offer that education at the Sibelius Academy as well, both in the national languages and in English. So you cannot study to be a comprehensive or senior high school teacher in English but you can study to have this general teacher’s qualification to all the other pedagogical tasks except those two just mentioned.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. So onwards with the questions, is there a possibility to come and meet any teachers at the Sibelius Academy before one applies?
Tanja Johansson: Well, in normal situations we would say yes but in this pandemic situation we say that it is possible to meet our teachers online. And I think that would be a wonderful opportunity to have a Zoom discussion, it can be shorter, it can be longer, just to have a chat with a teacher quite easily via Zoom.
Markus Utrio: And then if you are interested in what kind of teachers our teachers are or how they teach then I really recommend this Sibelius summer academy that Tanja mentioned earlier. You will find information on our website about our Sibelius summer academies, next summer most of them will be online but normally they happen here in our facilities in Helsinki.
Lotta Palin: There’s actually one question in the chat asking, is there a chance to ask for trial master’s classes to know the teachers’ approach?
Markus Utrio: That is pretty common that it happens most easily, it is organised in this Sibelius summer academy and you saw the advertisement film in the beginning of this chat, and you saw that they are sponsored by foundations. So they are way cheaper than summer courses normally are because we have sponsors for them. But then another way is of course to look for the teachers’ contact information on our website and just email them and ask about their schedules. Because nowadays during this pandemic situation our teachers are used to pedagogical interaction online as well. So actually, for international applicants, now this period which overall for the humankind is a tough period, for international students who are thinking about studying somewhere in a remote place this might even be a little bit easier since all the teachers are used to work online, and the auditions will be online.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. Our next question is about wellbeing of students and how it’s taken into consideration at the Sibelius Academy and what about equality?
Tanja Johansson: Well, both of these questions are ones that we have been thinking a lot and developing a lot during the previous years. Wellbeing of students is taken into consideration at many levels. First of all, we provide courses, we provide counselling, we provide study psychologist to talk to, we have a very good healthcare system in Finland that is also part of this wellbeing question and also different departments have their own wellbeing days or mentoring, tutoring, that kind of support for students outside the classes. So all of those, I think that are important when considering the wellbeing of students.
Markus Utrio: And then I would add that even in our curricula, the wellbeing is taken into account. I think it’s international, pretty exceptional that for instance we have the performance coaching classes, because performance anxiety is something all the musicians face more or less in some phase of their career. So we even have a subject that coaches the students for performances and to handle all these feelings that are an essential part of being a performer. And then the questions of equality and then all the questions about different aspects of the learning environment, the questions of harassment, they have been as well at the Sibelius Academy during the few past years very much in consideration and we have written many policies on this and we have created procedures so that everybody, all the members of our university community which means the students, the academic staff and the service staff, everybody is aware of all these things and everybody knows if there is something that doesn’t feel 100% correct, they know who they should contact and how the procedure will go on and they know that all the contacts about inappropriate behaviour will be taken seriously into account.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. So, we’ll go to the next question and there is actually a question concerning this in the chat also, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected studying at Sibelius Academy and what do you think the future looks like? Is it possible to complete the whole degree via a remote connection? In the chat they are most interested concerning the (-) conducting classes.
Markus Utrio: Of course, the pandemic situation has affected the pedagogical approach a lot because now since last March we have faced the fact that we have to always go to safety first and then the (line) when we think about safety and then we think about the learning objectives then it’s always a dialogue and we have to consider really carefully how we do and we have created policies that we think work pretty well. Since August our facilities are open for one-to-one teaching and for small ensembles because one-to-one teaching and small ensembles are anyway the core of the music education at the University level. Not in all departments of course, but in the faculty of classical music more or less it is like that. In that sense I don’t see that in the near future, with these technological equipments that are available at the moment, that it would be possible to complete the whole degree via a remote connection because there will be anyway ensemble, playing chamber music, symphony, operas on stage, choir conducting, that require that you really are in the same room with the other musicians. We don’t know what the future or what technological equipment will be in a year or let’s not say in 5 years, we have no idea how it will be improved but at the moment we don’t know. At the moment, the (core) of conducting class works in the concert halls so that the conductor is on the stage and the choir is in the audience so it’s possible that the choir is in the audience having even 3 meters safety distances between the singers, they sing with the face masks on them so we can ensure everybody’s safety even in the (-) conducting class and we don’t risk the learning objectives of the students.
Tanja Johansson: And actually, already last spring and now in the fall as well, we have been investing quite heavily on our teachers’ pedagogical skills, in online teaching and also investing in different types of technological facilities to be able to do online courses and online teaching in this pandemic situation. But all in all, in Finland, the situation is much better compared for instance to many other countries in Europe.
Markus Utrio: In the beginning I said something about that, we want to support each individual student so here is a living example of that, when we got to know about the coming closure of all the university facilities in Finland last March, it was 13th of March. Then the same week we bought microphones, we rented keyboards and we organised to all the students, all who wanted to, they had the possibility to borrow a microphone and to borrow a keyboard from the academy so that the remote teaching from their homes would be as efficient as possible. That was just an example.
Lotta Palin: That were all our questions today, so we would like to thank both of you very much and before we go onward to our facility’s video, shortly, what is the best thing about Sibelius Academy in your perspective?
Markus Utrio: Well, what could I say? For me, the Sibelius Academy community, it’s far beyond a work community. To be inspired, all these people, all our students, all our academic staff, all our service staff who all work for the common purpose and who all love music, that is for me the most important thing.
Tanja Johansson: Well yes, pretty much the same thing, the diversity of our students, the diversity of our teachers, the passion that people have at work. It’s very inspiring every day, I think that is the best part. The caring way of doing things and caring for each other, that’s very important.
Lotta Palin: Thank you so much both of you for attending the admissions chat and now we’ll take a look at a short video in which one of our students introduces you to Sibelius Academy’s facilities and after that we’ll meet our students Luke and Katharine.
Lotta Palin: Hi and welcome back, the next section is our students Luke Scott and Katharine Hao. They will be here to tell you more about the actual studying in Sibelius Academy and their experiences in Finland. Welcome Luke, welcome Katharine, would you please introduce yourself briefly and tell us more about, in which program are you studying?
Luke Scott: Do you do wanna go first Kathy or?
Katharine Hao: Hi, I’m Kathy, I am a master’s Flute student at the Sibelius Academy. I’ve been here for 4 years now, first on exchange and then I continued my master’s and I’m taking a bit longer in my degree because I’m doing a pedagogy certificate. Happy to be here, happy to be invited to talk.
Luke Scott: Hi, I am Luke Scott and I’m on the Opera program here, so I’m a singer and I am in my second year of my two and half years master’s so far.
Lotta Palin: Welcome both of you, nice of you to be able to make it to our admissions chat. So, on to the questions, how did you hear about Sibelius Academy the first time and why did you decide to apply to Finland to study?
Katharine Hao: I actually met an exchange student from Finland, he was at my school for a year and he just talked about his school and how things worked here, and it seemed really interesting and then I wanted to move somewhere new so I came here first on exchange and then I really liked it here so I just decided to apply for my master’s.
Luke Scott: And for me, before I did my undergraduate degree, I had looked up like the best conservatories to go study at and Sibelius Academy was in the top 10 and then when I was ready to an Opera school I felt like, you know what, I’m just gonna check out and I had some reference from my (- -) [0:37:38] directed somethings here at Sibelius Academy and they highly recommended it and I thought, why not, lets (- -) [0:37:43] and I’m glad I did.
Lotta Palin: How was it to move to Finland?
Katharine Hao: It was actually super easy for me. I mean I knew someone here beforehand, the exchange student so things went really smoothly. They have student tutors who really help with the process, you meet people through your tutor group, and you have events together, I guess not now because of Corona but before when I came it was really nice to have this community and I had help with everything, getting settled and everything.
Luke Scott: It was quite simple for me too, I am, probably like many other male students that come over (- -) [0:38:29] so that also helps me a lot, just to get settled in, plus I am, well, soon to not be part of the European Union but I was part of the European Union so things were very smooth for me. And people are much more friendly than they see, so it was actually much easier to settle in than people may talk about.
Lotta Palin: Well, it didn’t actually, maybe you didn’t say it yet, where are you two from?
Katharine Hao: I am from Canada.
Luke Scott: And I’m from Scotland, United Kingdom.
Lotta Palin: Okay so Katharine had a bit longer way to come to Finland.
Katharine Hao: Yea, it was a big move.
Lotta Palin: So, answer the next question. What is it like to study in Sibelius Academy in your program? What is your typical day like and what is the student life like for an international student?
Katharine Hao: So there are a lot of courses to choose from so you can basically, it’s quite free, at least my Master’s program is quite free so I finished most of the compulsory courses and then you can just pick from whatever you wanna do. I had Pilates class for musicians, or my friend took a Renaissance dance class, there is everything you can think of. It’s basically just what you wanted to be. You have lots of performance opportunities and all kind of courses and you make your own schedule, you organise everything yourself so it’s just what you want it to be pretty much.
Luke Scott: Yeah, I have been really enjoying studying here. I have a slightly different experience because in the Opera school we have quite, we kind of all play in Opera house so we are there 11 – 2 and then 6 – 9 so we have quite of hours filled already then we have a private lessons between hand but we still have the opportunity to explore and do other lot of fun things like Renaissance dance if we wanted to but we really get a very diverse and fully loaded program so we don’t really need too much, this already is so much enjoyable.
Lotta Palin: Does your studies include a lot of individual tuition or is the study mostly group studies?
Luke Scott: For me, I already have my individual tuition which I get 2 hours per week with my singing teacher and I also get 1 hour per week with a coach on for the specific repertoire whether that’d be for the opera or for my own things I want to learn if it’s for concerts. For instance, I’m gonna be doing the Russian project for Lead studio so I have been going over some of my Russian songs with my coach.
Katharine Hao: I get an hour and half per week and I also have pianist hours so I can meet with the school pianist who is really good. I think that’s more than I got in my Bachelor’s for sure.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. So the next question, what are the best things about Finland and Helsinki in your opinion and do you think it’s expensive to live in Finland? Sometimes they say that it is but in your point of view and do you find living in Finland and in Helsinki safe?
Katharine Hao: I don’t think it’s expensive to live as a student in Finland. You know, we get student meals which are 3 Euros, student housing, discounts on transit and everything and also tuition is very affordable, especially for me coming from North America. Best thing about Finland, it’s just so beautiful here, lots of nature, I always take walks around when I am taking a break from practice. It’s just very peaceful and very quiet and very safe, like I can walk home at 3 AM and I am not worried.
Luke Scott: I studied in England for my degrees so I’m used to 9000 pounds a year so it’s quite the difference for fee, so that’s a big thing and I think in terms of it being expensive, like Cathy said students are really supported here in Finland, you can tell the real appreciation for education and we are taken care of in that sense. I lived in London before moving to Helsinki, so Helsinki doesn’t really expensive to me but perhaps (–) [0:43:21] but I don’t think it compares to London and how expensive that is. I think as long as you take care of yourself and you’re smart, it’s all gonna be okay and then like Cathy said, basically you can walk around, and no one bothers you at all and again I lived in London beforehand, so this is more than safe. (laughs)
Lotta Palin: Thank you both. Our next question is about the entrance examination process, so when you apply, of course the entrance or the admission requirements can change each year, but what was the process like when you applied? How was your experience and what sort of instructions or tips would you give to our prospective new applicants? Why should they and should not do?
Katharine Hao: When I applied the (–) [0:44:23] program is a bit different because you can just a video for your application, you don’t need to come for the audition. There is one required piece and then one piece of my choice, which is not a lot of work for an application for a Master’s program. Everything was really clear and went quite smoothly. I guess any advice I would give is just to know your strength and just try to show your best side and don’t worry too much about little mistakes, it’s more about who you are as a musician.
Luke Scott: Yea, for me, for the opera school, we had a few more things because it’s quite (tailor made) eventually how the program works so I had to recite a poem and I had to prepare 3 areas, I had to do like a movement session, we then also had to learn the act 2 finale of the Nozze di Figaro which we would like to use a score and we also had like a coaching session and I really, if that seems like a lot, but I really appreciated that because I have done other opera skill auditions and thus process was able to look at you more as like who are you, who are you as the artist, who are you as the musician rather than how well does he sing at G, it was like, yea that is great if you can sing well, that’s obviously the main part but I’ve really enjoyed that they were looking at me as a whole and I was unwell during my audition so actually having this whole picture about with me as Luke Scott, with much better for me in the long run and I’ve really appreciated that. And I would say then as my top tips is, basically go and just be yourself because people always want to see you rather than what you perceive a musician, or an artist has to be. It’s more they want you to be you and then you flourish in that sense and that situation.
Lotta Palin: Those are really good instructions, thank you. The next question we have was about the facilities at Sibelius Academy, we took a look at the video with Lucy Abrams telling us about the buildings and Sibelius Academy’s facilities around Helsinki but what is your experience about the students’ spaces and practice spaces and student housing? Any opinions on that?
Katharine Hao: The facilities are actually one of the reasons why I applied because I was really tired of fighting for practice rooms at my old school, in the basement that’s kind of like dungeon area but the practice room in Sibelius Academy are really nice, there’s always stands and mirror, they have this sound boards on the wall, so you adjust how echoey you want it to be. I haven’t fought for practice rooms too much here, usually if you wake up in time and you book early, you can find something, especially during off hours but also, I practice a lot at home because I live in Clavis which is the Sibelius Academy student residence. So in Clavis we can practice from, I think it’s 8 AM to 10 PM, you might hear someone practicing right now actually downstairs. So I have no problem finding a space to practice. And Clavis is really welcoming, you have your own room with a kitchen and washroom and everything and then there’s a common area where you can meet people and talk to people, it’s really a community here. Really enjoy living here.
Luke Scott: Yea I personally love the facilities, I’ve studied at two different conservatoires in England and it’s just (-) to not have carpets on floor of practice rooms, that’s one of the biggest differences (laughs), it sounds like such a silly thing but it makes such a big difference especially as a singer you don’t feel like you’re singing into a (-) but they’re so well stocked, you have wonder pianos in every practice room which you don’t always appreciate till you have it and that’s a really a big thing and I love what Cathy said, when you have the adjustable soundboards and you’re probably (-) singers, so closing them all so they can hear themselves better after the (–)[0:49:14] and for me it’s the-, one of the opera singing student, we do a lot of productions and the sonore in sonore hall which is actually really nice to sing in. So in terms of facilities, I have to admit, it’s probably the best place I have studied at in that regard and I have, like I said, I studied at two different places in England so Sibelius academy is number one for me.
Katharine Hao: Also, the halls are really amazing and they’re really easy to book so I had to do a recording for (-) recently and I booked the best hall for it and it was just mine for 3 hours, it’s great.
Luke Scott: Yea I have done the exact same. It’s surprising how easily you can book these places.
Lotta Palin: There’s actually one question from our applicant which is, do all international students live in student housing and how much does it cost?
Katharine Hao: I think most international students choose to live in student housings so basic Clavis there’s also HOAS which is just like general student housing for all students and you can tell HOAS how much your budget is, I think. I haven’t applied to HOAS, I’m not quite sure what the procedure is but for Clavis the rent is 450 euros a month and I think HOAS you can even get something as cheap as 300. It really depends on-, you know if you are cool with roommates and how far you are willing to live, these kinds of things.
Luke Scott: And for me, I don’t live in student housing but as I said before I have a Finnish partner so I already live with her and we through friends of friends found a nice apartment to live in but if weren’t to have had that situation I would have been going for the HOAS apartments with my partner. Now it’s been the best situation for us at the time.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. Onto the next question, it’s about student life and work life at the same time. Is it possible to study part time and work at the same time? What sort of work do the students usually do? Are there any gig opportunities for example and what is the payment usually like?
Katharine Hao: It’s totally possible to study and work at the same time because at least in my degree, it’s really flexible so a lot of students I know are already working in professional orchestras and they just pop by when they need to and they do all their mandatory courses and stuff. There are students who are not super active because they are doing other stuff on side of their school and that’s totally okay, the teachers are really flexible, especially about deadlines, if you talk to your teacher about something you need to do, they are really understanding because most students are gigging all the time outside of school and you can’t really predict when you’ll be away, you know things come up. And yes, there are lots of gigging opportunities for musicians here. I don’t know any other orchestras that just ask students to (sub) all the time, depending what instruments you play but for string players, yea all the time they get asked to play, I mean the pay is really good.
Luke Scott: I would say from the opera school perspective. Like I said before, we have quite an intense schedule, people do work and for instance I am a bartender but I have a flexible job so I can do 1 shift a week or I can do 0 shifts a week and thankfully I have enough support that it doesn’t totally affect me but you can still do it and some of the orchestrions currently are teaching on the side because that’s one flexible way of, still keeping it within the thing but you, doesn’t need to clash too much with your schedule and then there’s of course a lot of the singers are doing also gigs and then they are being paid well, you do get paid like, it’s not, for me for example in Britain I was getting a lot of these times for concerts (-) asked to do it for free for experience but you’re appreciated as a musician here. That’s the biggest difference, they really do appreciate you as a musician. So a lot of them are doing, there’s plenty of opportunities, it’s just busier than the (-) because there’s a more stringent schedule but people are still doing things regardless.
Lotta Palin: There’s actually one question in the chat from Julia, which are the biggest career opportunities that Sibelius academy has offered you?
Katharine Hao: For me the apprenticeship is the biggest thing. So every year they hold an audition for all the flutes students and then there’s like a representative from each of the major orchestras, operas in the city and then they pick who they like and then you get a chance to play in the orchestra or opera for 1 week or (-) depends. That was such a crazy opportunity for me and you know after they know you and you are on the sub-list and you maybe can get called back if they like you so that’s just, that’s such a great opportunity.
Luke Scott: Yea and for in the opera school, for example we have a guy called Jakko (-) who is the artistic director or casting director of Finnish national opera and we have like a demo audition with him so he gets to come in here saying and we don’t have to try and organise that, that’s been organised for us, then at the end of our degree I think Markus Utrio mentioned earlier on, there is a Nord opera network, there’s an (-) network of the Nordic and Baltic thing and different agents and opera houses of the Baltic Nordic regions come and listen to us, we audition for them and you never know what comes out of that. So in terms of exposure those are already two major things that happen simply by organisation of the school and also mentioned earlier by Markus, I’m one of the lucky student who hopefully will be going to the United States as part of the opera partnership, the University of Southern California. That’s also in itself a big exposure opportunity and these are hard to come by on your own to set something like that, so we are (served) to succeed immediately and then we also have a, early next year we have a big concert coming up with one of the (–) [0:56:08] I don’t really like to talk about it too much but we have that coming up where we are gonna be soloist. So we are exposed so much plus everyone comes to see Sibelius Academy, apologies, everyone comes to see the Sibelius Academy productions or performances anyway so you never know who is listening.
Lotta Palin: Thank you. There’s actually a couple of more questions about working while studying. Has the language barrier affected your possibilities of finding work while studying and is the flexibility to work and earn across all nationalities?
Katharine Hao: Yea, you know, at least in orchestras they’re all very international and also all Finnish people are really nice about speaking English. Finnish is a very hard language to learn so most Finns don’t expect foreigners to be fluent, but they are very happy if you speak even a little bit. So, for me, I mean I have taken Finnish courses and I do speak a little bit, but I haven’t really had trouble, maybe in rehearsal when the conductor is calling out bar numbers in Finnish, I’ll be like, in my head like, three hundred forty but then someone will tell me we’re gonna start here, it’s not really a big problem.
Luke Scott: For me, I would say, I mean I’ve got a job but I would say what Markus Utrio said, it’s definitely to your benefit to just learn some of the basics, to be able to say hello, how are you, you know, just to be nice, that makes a big difference and even if you’re not perfect, you don’t need to be fluent to get opportunity, you just need to show the desire and for (-) it’s not a large international spoken language, it really leaves a big impression if you can do somewhat of something. It makes a big difference. It doesn’t hold you back at all, but it does push you forward and give you more opportunity if you can a little bit.
Lotta Palin: So as for our final question, there’s one applicant question still, it’s a bit more general one so maybe you wish to answer this first. How much as students do you get to collaborate with other students of other disciplines? So not only your own program but other programs also.
Katharine Hao: I think if you want to, you definitely can, you just have to be active about it. People are always interested in this stuff and happy to discuss projects. The school is happy to fund all kinds of projects, you just have to write an application and find people you want. I would say it’s fairly easy.
Luke Scott: Yea, I would say it’s much, I do (-) a lot, for example like I said I am in this (-) studio project which means I get partnered with a pianist and then we work together collaboratively on the lead up concert (-) and then, I know Kathy, so it’s like even if we wanted to I’m sure we could set something up quite easily and lots of people do it nonstop so you’d be surprised even for the people in the opera school are kind of (-) of schedule, we are still able to do things with other people.
Lotta Palin: Thank you, and for the last question, what has been the best thing here during your studies this far?
Katharine Hao: I think my favourite thing about the school is the attitude. This was mentioned earlier by one of the vice-deans but it’s really like a student-centred approach. All the teachers are really happy to find out what you want, and you know kind of work around that and all the teachers are really passionate, at least all the ones that I’ve had are super passionate about teaching and it’s a very positive environment. I’ve been in a kind of toxic music learning environment where students are trying to push each other down, talking behind each other’s back, it’s not like that here, everyone is really supportive, always encouraging each other, it’s just a really nice atmosphere to be in.
Luke Scott: Yea I would say when you think that we, for me as a European or former European to be, I am enjoying free education and when you have that opportunity there’s less of the idea of you’re just a number. I did feel a little like in my previous establishment is that you know I was adding too much to this (exhibition) but here like they said, there’s a focus on you and there’s an appreciation for you and here you are to become, not many people get the opportunity to study here but once they do, you’re really appreciated and you’re really taken on board to push you to be the best you can be and you notice that in how much your teachers or coaches are working for you to better you, empower you.
Lotta Palin: Thank you both for joining us. We’ll see a short video where our students Leila Martin tells a bit about her studies in Sibelius academy and after that we will get to the admissions part so please stay tuned.
I: So welcome to the final part of our admissions chat. Since Lotta has mostly been asking the questions up until now, I’ll turn the table around on her a little bit and ask some of the most asked questions about the admissions process. So lets go into the first question, what is the application process like for an international applicant and how do I apply?
Lotta Palin: This is actually something we get asked a lot. I am not quite sure if other universities have different application processes for international applicants. But in Sibelius Academy it’s the same for everyone, basically you apply just as you would if you were a Finnish applicant. The application itself is or the application period is open from the 7th of January until the 20th of January and the application closes on the last day at 3 PM, Finnish time so please make sure that you are in a right time zone, let’s say like this so that your application isn’t late because this is something we cannot unfortunately accept if the application comes even a minute late, it would have to be applied again next year. During the application process you also deliver us your certificates, so basically your previous background, education, your language skills and then your official ID. If your program has or wants any advance assignments then those are usually delivered at the same time or 1 week later actually, on the 27th of January.
I: Okay so what materials do I need to deliver and when I apply do I need to deliver any advanced assignments?
Lotta Palin: This is something I probably answered a minute ago already but some, let’s say about maybe 50% of all our programs use advanced assignments so if your program admissions requirements ask for them then of course they are something you have to do. If there is no mention of any advanced assignments, then you do not have to deliver them. Other than that, the application is a big thing so if you don’t have an application you have not applied so please, in the study info system we have this national application system, study info, through which you apply. So all the other materials are also delivered there so you can have or you can do all the application related moves in the same system, you don’t have to use anything else and actually we don’t even accept anything for example through email or through fax or something like this. But other than that, the application, then of course the certificate as I mentioned before and then the official ID. So those are the 4 things, application, certificates, ID and pre-examination assignments which you have to deliver.
I: Okay, so then one of most asked questions is, also is a student allowed to apply to more than 1 program and can you take a double major at the Sibelius Academy?
Lotta Palin: In the study info system you can apply up to 6 programs at the same time. There was 1 question beforehand which was sent about the different academies at (-) Helsinki and that includes those academies as well. So you can choose 6 different programs and you can apply to all of them if you wish. They can be from Sibelius Academy, all 6 or they can be from for example Sibelius Academy and theatre academy so there’s no limitation on that one except for the 6. The only limitation is that you cannot apply to the Bachelor’s level and to the Master’s level in the same program at the same time. So you have to choose, either you apply to the Bachelor’s or to the 2.5 years Master’s program. And if you have put an application to both, we will only consider the other so if you are eligible to the Bachelor’s program, you will be moved to the Bachelor’s quota and if you are eligible to the Master’s program we will put you to the Master’s quota. The double major is also, it’s a question we get a lot. And we do not have double majors at Sibelius Academy. You can only be accepted to 1 program at one time and you cannot hold 2 study rights at the same time at Sibelius Academy. So if you wish to study at another program or change your program during your studies, it would mean that you lose the old one when you accept a new one. Other than that, it is of course possible for you to have many different side subjects so that is something that our students usually have but as for the double major, you cannot in Sibelius Academy graduate from 2 programs at the same time.
I: So the next question is often asked also, when are the examinations held and do I need to travel to Finland to audition? There’s a lot of questions here but can I attend via remote connection? Or can I just transfer to Sibelius Academy from my current school?
Lotta Palin: I could answer the last one first, Sibelius Academy does not have a specific transfer process, so all our applicants take part in the entrance examinations, so it is not possible to just send your papers and then come to study at Sibelius Academy, you do have to take part in the actual examination first. Other than that, I would say the answer to this question would have been really different last year before the Corona pandemic situation. This spring we were forced to have all our entrance examinations via a remote connection, either with a video or with other remote examination situations such as interviews and (-) is the situation and all that sort of thing. This is something we really do have to take into consideration also next year as we do not yet know what the situation with the corona pandemic will be and this is why many of our programs have decided to hold the entrance examinations of 2021 via a remote connection. There’s no specific programs that are holding them via remote connection and specific programs that are holding them on-sight in Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. So I recommend everybody to go through very carefully your own program’s admission requirements and take a look which way the examinations will be held. For example, if you take music technology, if you applied to the bachelor’s program, you have to travel to Helsinki for the final part of the examination but if you apply to the Master’s program the whole examination is held via a remote connection. So it can, even inside one specific program the situation can be different. Maybe something that you might want to take into consideration is also the 16th of March 2021 which is the final date we will use to inform applicants if there are any changes to the entrance examination situations held in Helsinki. So we are of course monitoring the Corona pandemic situation very closely all the time and if it looks bad and we cannot hold the examinations on sight, we will let the applicants know by the 16th of March and if we have to hold all the examinations via a remote connection as last year. Maybe I answered everything, I think so. If you have any questions, please feel free to put them to them in the chat.
I: Yes and there have been some questions in the chat and also the questions have been answered. Julia has an answer in the chat and the question that was asked with this also in the chat. Let’s go into the next question. (–) [1:12:16] a little bit with the deans and also the students but it’s always our most asked questions, what does studying at Sibelius Academy costs and are there any scholarship opportunities and what about Brexit? This is a common question.
Lotta Palin: Yes, this is something Luke already mentioned when it was his turn to talk but the studying at Sibelius Academy, there’s a low tuition fee of 5,000 € per year for those applicants and students who come outside of the EU and ETA or EEA countries and Switzerland. Since 2017 the whole nation of Finland or all the universities in Finland have been required to have this tuition fee for the applicants and students who come outside of EU and EEA countries. But as I said in Sibelius Academy the payment is relatively low, it’s 5000€ per year, it will stay the same for the duration of your studies if you are accepted and the scholarships are offered to cover those tuition fees so you can apply for a scholarship, we have the scholarship application address attached to the study info application so when you go there and if the application states that you are required to pay a tuition fee, you will receive the address to the tuition fee waiver application which you must also fill in. All the new students that apply for scholarship be given a 50% tuition fee waiver for their first year and from the second year onwards your progress in your studies will be considered but the tuition fee waivers from the second year onwards might be even 100% meaning that you might not have to pay anything for your studies. Unfortunately, we do not have any other scholarships so no scholarships currently for, for example living expenses, and these tuition fee waiver scholarships are of course are only available for those who are paying the actual tuition fee so if you are from an EU EEA country or Switzerland you will not be able to apply for the scholarship either. But the Brexit situation is a new one, it’s coming forth next year meaning that all new UK students who arrive in Finland after January 1st would be considered as requiring to pay tuition fees. If you are already in Finland, there’s a process you can follow, unfortunately I am not able to tell much about the process since it’s handled by the Finnish Immigration Service but if you have any questions about Brexit you can of course always send us an email and we’ll try to find you the right answer but the thing to remember at the moment is that if you come from UK and arrive to Finland after January 1st, you would most likely be required to pay tuition fees.
I: I think we are going to go to our last question here, this is a question that we get asked a lot and our students also kind of touched down on this before. But rather than just answering this myself or asking this from Lotta, let’s hear from our students. Just to clarify you definitely do not need to know any Finnish to study at the Sibelius Academy.
Lotta Palin: Yes, this is correct, all applicants do have their language or must demonstrate their language skills at some of the programs’ language requirements and as most of our programs are offered also in English, English is more than enough. So you do not have to know any Finnish and you do not have to have any Finnish demonstrations during the application process with the exception of music education which is our Finnish and Swedish speaking program and the only one that requires you to know one of the languages.
I: So at this point we would like to thank you all for joining our chat and hope we will maybe see you here next year.
Lotta Palin: Thank you from my side also and as mentioned in the chat, if we did not answer your question during this admissions chat, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will most definitely answer you via email. Our admission requirements are on our website for a week now so please go and see and if you have any questions please contact us. Bye.