MUSA | European young MUsicians soft Skills Alliance

MUSA – European young MUsicians soft Skills Alliance is a European professional training project for young string quartets. It aims to provide them with entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and competences are ususally missing in their curriculum although fundamental for their professional career.

MUSA is addressed to young professional string quartets specialized in the classical chamber music repertoire and composed by musicians between 20 and 35 years old who regularly work together. 

MUSA is co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union as Strategic Partnership to support innovation (Key Action 2).

The strategic partnership is composed by: Le Dimore del Quartetto S.r.l. Impresa Sociale as Leading Organisation, IED – Istituto Europeo di Design and ASK – Centre for Research on Management and Economics of Arts and Culture Institutions of University Bocconi in Milan for Italy, ProQuartet – Centre européen de musique de chambre in Paris and La Ferme de Villefavard en Limousin in Villefavard for France, and by Experimenta in Lisbon for Portugal.

The project also includes the following associated partners, that have expressed their interest and support for the initiative: Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane, Europa Nostra, European Historic Houses, Historic Houses, Fondo Ambiente Italiano, Accademia Chigiana, Fondazione Cini, Centro di Musicologia Walter Stauffer, Fondazione Monzino, Si-Yo Music Society Foundation, Borletti-Buitoni Trust, Fondazione Cariplo.

MUSA started in October 2020 and lasts for 25 months. It is composed of four main activities:

  1. Short-Term Joint Staff Training Event dedicated to trainers, teachers and experts from the partner organizations during which a methodological framework on the training pathways, learning outcomes and evaluation will be defined;
  2. The translation of the methodological framework into operational Guidelines replicable at European level;
  3. The pilot application of the Guidelines with activities dedicated to the musicians:
    a) innovative high-level training pathways on entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and competences in Italy, Portugal and France;
    b) transnational training activities taking place at the same time as the training sessions in the form of artistic residencies as non-formal learning;
    c) multiplier events that help disseminating the results of the project.
  4. The final evaluation of the pilot application, carried out in collaboration with ASK Research Center of Bocconi University, through a Manual for Higher Training Programs in cultural entrepreneurship for young musicians and a Research on the educational and social value of cultural heritage as a source of economic and employment growth.

The pilot application develops through three main European stages:

Innovative training course in the music sector in Italy: 4-Bows drivethe string Quartet image strategy in collaboration with IED – European Institute of Design.

In particular, the programme in Italy focuses on:
• identity and style of the musicians and of the quartet as a whole
• communication through social media (how to take pictures, document and spread news on social media using images of e.g. performances that have just taken place)
• dynamics and relationships with the environment taking into consideration the scenographic and “choreographic” aspects
The workshop involves IED teachers, photographers and video-makers, who will be able to relate to the musical field and more generally with the performing arts and will be ready to contribute to the construction of the quartet image.

Innovative training course in the music sector in Portugal: Cross-fertilization among the arts in collaboration with ExperimentaIn particular it focuses on the cross-fertilization between music and other cultural fields, such as architecture, design, painting, to enhance musicians’ profile and career opportunities.

This workshop focuses on:
• understanding of space – the relationship between sound and space with architecture, thinking of space as a non-visible and abstract platform and as a territory for communication
• light design and public performances
• product design and the creation of musical instruments, combining the knowledge of instrument makers with the vision of product designers
• interconnections between classical music and contemporary art
• graphic design and communication, collaborating with graphic designers to create the leaflet for the final public event
• sound design, new sound applications and possibilities through cinema, theatre, performance and art
These activities are conducted by designers, graphic designers, contemporary artists, architects, professionals in the field of scenography.

Innovative training course in the music sector in France: Recording & Market Distribution in collaboration with ProQuartet-CEMC and La Ferme de Villefavard en Limousin, with particular reference to the recording and distribution phases on the market, National and European copyright legislation, administrative and financial aspects.

The activities in France concern topics such as:
recording of a piece of music, essential element for the quartets’ professionalization to give them the tools to communicate and introduce themselves to agents, concert hall directors and competition juries. During this workshop the musicians work with an artistic consultant and a sound engineer to get more awareness of the context of the venue in order to adapt the choice of the repertoire and their interpretation, and to understand the technical issues for a recording of a professional quality;
Market distribution and Copyright Regulatory Framework related to labels, innovative multimedias, distribution, marketing, and European regulatory frameworks of copyright, legal concepts on copyright and intellectual property;
Mental and Physical preparation: how to deal with stress, what are the characteristics of the chamber musician’s life, how to get individual and collective motivation, discipline and positive thinking, how to have a better communication among the quartet, how to better protect oneself against physical injuries. It includes exercises related to mindfulness and neurosciences, together with physical preparation and body awareness with yoga postures (stretching, relaxation and strengthening of the body).
These activities involve an artistic consultant, a sound engineer, a record label representative, an administrative consultant and a coach for physical and mental training.

The journey of MUSA ends in October 2022 in the heart of Europe, Brussels, with a big event in a symbolic place of the city.

MUSA involves the participation of 11 international string quartets, selected by all the partners and hosted in residency in historic houses and other places of relevant cultural interest. String quartets, in fact, need to spend as much time together as they can in order to become a single instrument made of sixteen strings, both technically speaking and on the point of view of the development of transversal competences and skills. For this reason, the artistic residency represents a source of inspiration for the development of the quartets’ identity and competences.

MUSA has the final objective of enabling young musicians to improve their career prospects, providing the organizations involved in this sector with a new training offer, strengthening the relationship between the music and the cultural heritage sectors with the perspective of enhancing the European culture to achieve a socio-economic development. 

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.