Music Education and Cultural Diversity in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland

The topic that this collaborative research project addresses is Music education and cultural diversity in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland, which is unique both nationally and internationally: Nationally, since work on issues on music education and cultural diversity in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland has not been carried out earlier; and internationally, since the bilingual and increasingly multicultural society of Finland is unique in its construction in an international comparison. Music educators in Finland therefore have a unique perspective from which to communicate and discuss cultural diversity in schools in international forums.

In 2012, Maria Westvall (Örebro University, Sweden) received a grant from Svenska Kulturfonden in Finland as an individual researcher to carry out the research project The Minorities in the Minority: A study of the role of music education in the development of multicultural skills in the Finnish-Swedish schools. The purpose of this research collaboration is to extend Westvall’s project and establish a working group. In 2013, Maria Westvall and Marja Heimonen applied and received funding from the Development Centre, Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki.

The research group consists of:

Maria Westvall, PhD, Senior lecturer School of Music, Theatre and Art, Örebro University, Sweden/ Guest researcher at University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy, Finland

Marja Heimonen, DMus, Senior Ass., University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy, Finland

Jan-Erik Mansikka PhD, Senior lecturer, University of Helsinki / University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy, Finland


The main objective of the study is to address issues in music education and cultural diversity in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland through collaborative analysis, as well as to communicate the findings to an international audience in articles and conference presentations.

Conference presentations

Westvall, Maria (2013) Multicultural Music Education from the Minority’s Perspective. Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Music as a Means for ‘Multicultural Skill Development’ in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland. 8th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education (SOME). Hedmark University College, Norway. 16−19 June 2013.

Westvall, Maria, Mansikka, Jan-Erik & Heimonen, Marja (2013) Music and the Development of ‘Multicultural Skills’ in the School Environment. A Case Study of Swedish-Speaking Schools in Finland. ECER. Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research. Istanbul, Turkey. 10−13 September 2013.

Heimonen, Marja, Mansikka, Jan-Erik & Westvall, Maria (2014) Music Education a critical means for intercultural courses of action? Nordic Network for Research in Music Education (NNMPF). Stockholm, Sweden. 23−25 April 2014.


Westvall, Maria (2014) Musical diversity or conformity? An investigation of current norms in music education through the lens of educators in Swedish-speaking minority schools in Finland. Finnish Journal of Music Education Vol. 17 No 2 (in press).

Heimonen Marja & Westvall, Maria. Multicultural music education
from the perspective of Swedish-speaking teachers and state authorities in Finland. Nordic Yearbook for Music Education Research (in review).

Mansikka, Jan-Erik, Westvall, Maria & Heimonen, Marja. Critical aspects of cultural diversity in music education: Questioning the established practices and cultural 
forms. Intercultural Education (in review).