Amateur musicians

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Small town male choir at Advent singing

The amateur musicians (also: amateur music ) denotes the non-professional sector of the active, producing or reproducing music making. On the one hand, it is differentiated from professional music-making (by professional musicians ), but also from (passive) enjoyment or consumption of music. There are flowing transitions to professional music-making, which is aimed at making a profit and is usually based on appropriate musical training. In addition to the term “layman”, the terms “ amateur ”, “lover” or “dilettante” are also used in an overlapping sense and with different connotations . Orchestra musicians often prefer the term "amateur" to emphasize the seriousness and musical training of the musicians.


Music lessons take place in public and private music schools as well as with private music teachers . It leads to music making in families, schools, clubs, churches and free groups. Musicians' marches , fanfares , trombone choirs , accordion orchestras and plucked orchestras are traditional forms of amateur music alongside the various amateur choirs . The conductors of amateur orchestras are mostly professional musicians. The improvisation is accessible layman, which lay high during intensive experimental games performance can show. Informal forms of music-making by laypeople also include house music , private music circles, karaoke , DJing , sampling or singing in football fan cultures. In terms of quality of life, music offers musicians a framework in which to engage in quiet moments or to convey and express common ground.

In addition to individual and group lessons, offers for amateur musicians also include music camps - for example taster courses where people can explore a new musical instrument , “open singing” events, “hands-on concerts”, music workshops and music holidays . General schools also offer music lessons in various forms, such as music high schools , programs such as JeKits ("Every child instruments, dancing, singing") or wind , string or choir classes . The schools cooperate with the music schools or private music teachers (for other forms of music-making in general schools, see also: making music in classes ).

In some places the adult education centers also offer music courses. The music geragogy offers music-making opportunities for older people with and without previous musical experience.

Community music is practically cultivated as an alternative to high culture . This concept, which is closely related to amateur music making, is about musical activities that are integrated into the social and spatial environment of the participants. Here elements of music therapy and social work come into play at the same time . The demands on music education are also changing , as music is increasingly viewed as a contribution to inclusion and participation . In many community music projects, recurring building blocks ( patterns ) are used as the basis for improvisation. In the context of informal learning , writing your own music and learning without notes is encouraged. Community music is sometimes criticized for “naive belief in the healing properties of music and an overestimation of amateur improvisation and the importance of informal learning as a method”. In any case, it is clear that in community music no strict line is drawn between music as an end in itself and its use for social and therapeutic purposes.

At the annual Fête de la Musique on June 21, amateur and professional musicians give free performances in more than 540 cities around the world.


Choir Wilsnack Cantabile in the Parchim town hall

Amateur music making is one of the largest movements in civic engagement in Germany. The German Music Information Center (MIZ) noted in 2014 that approximately 14 million people regularly in Germany in their free time singing , an instrument to play or musical press elsewhere, including at least 2 million children and adolescents aged between 2 and 13 years. Around 3 million people make music actively in lay associations, mostly in choir associations . A total of around 820,000 children and young people make music in school orchestras and choirs, bands and other ensembles in general schools. According to the Federal Statistical Office , of the 3 million amateur musicians in 2014, around two million were organized in associations, including around 500,000 in Protestant choirs and instrumental groups and almost 400,000 in Catholic choirs and instrumental groups; a music profession (including music pedagogue and instrument maker), on the other hand, was exercised by 128,000 workers. According to the musicologist and politician Ulrike Liedtke , there were a total of 3.67 million active or supporting members in the instrumental and choral associations of amateur / amateur music in Germany in 2017/18.

The two major umbrella associations for amateur music in Germany are the Federal Association of German Choir Associations (BDC) and the Federal Association of German Orchestra Associations (BDO). A total of 18 national choir and orchestra associations are united in them; around 70,000 ensembles are affiliated to the individual member associations. In popular music, an estimated 85 to 90 percent of musicians are amateurs; some bands switch between professional, semi-professional and amateur status.

The promotion of amateur music in Germany is primarily a task for the municipalities. Next to it is one of the primary tasks of all 16 country music councils through which the financial contributions of the respective federal states are managed and in which the amateur music organizations are represented as its members. The same applies to the German Music Council at the federal level. In addition, activities of supraregional importance and qualification are funded by the state. Lay music in rural areas is far more deeply rooted in southern Germany than in northern Germany, especially in the form of wind bands , and there are more orchestras in western Germany than in eastern Germany. In the north, marching bands are particularly widespread, whereas there are many plucked orchestras in Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia .

GEMA license fees apply to public music performances by musical amateurs as well as to performances by professional musicians (unless the music is GEMA-free). In the case of youth welfare, social welfare, care for the elderly and the welfare of the elderly, care for prisoners and school events, provided they are only accessible to a specific group of people according to their social or educational purpose, the obligation to pay is not applicable ( Section 52 (1) sentence 3 UrhG) . The prerequisite is, however, that the participants of the event are admitted free of charge and the musicians receive no special remuneration.

The German Music Council regularly organizes the German Choir Competition and the German Orchestra Competition to compare performance on the one hand and for musical and human encounters on the other . There are also youth music competitions such as the Jugend musiziert competition .

In 2008 the German federal government emphasized the importance of instrumental and vocal amateur music making with the words:

“For many people, singing and making music in a community is a form of active lifestyle in their free time - an ideal opportunity to combine cultural interests and the desire for community, communication and joie de vivre . Singing and making music in a community offer forums to achieve individual recognition through artistic and community-building work and, last but not least, to bring joy and musical enjoyment to other people. In this interweaving of the individual and the community, the amateur music associations form an important source of social ties in our community and a platform for social engagement. "

According to case law, tenants in an apartment building are entitled to make music in an appropriate framework outside of general rest periods ( midday rest and night's rest ), unless otherwise stated in the rental agreement. The maximum duration per day varies from instrument to instrument.

In Germany, criticism is directed against a quality and availability of music lessons in schools that is perceived as insufficient. It is also criticized that there are fewer school choirs or no possibility for the teachers to account for the corresponding hours as lessons, and also fewer choirs and instrumental ensembles in churches.

Amateur musicians for the music industry a major buyer potential for musical instruments and accessories, music lessons and sheet music. In addition, there are expenses for gastronomy, tourism and cloakroom. Economically, a distinction can be made between direct sales impulses from the required “work equipment” such as musical instruments on the one hand ( cultural- economic sales) and the economic effects they induce on local service providers, companies and public revenues on the other ( indirect profitability ). As with other voluntary activities, the added value of non-commercial music-making cannot be calculated in a scientifically satisfactory manner. For example, no distinction is made between instrument purchases by professional musicians and by amateurs. In 2008, the federal government made the economic importance of amateur music based on an estimate of the number of instrumental musicians in Germany and (in relation to the year 2002) turnover - with 1.4 million amateur instrumentalists playing in clubs and 10,200 positions in 135 professional orchestras, one of them Total sales of 609 million euros in musical instrument manufacture and 930 million euros in music retailers. In its assessment, the Federal Government also emphasized the indirect effects of amateur music: “In addition, there are the corresponding activities of the associations (e.g. advanced training events, congresses, festivals, competitions, national and international encounters). The indirect effects through the creation and maintenance of a considerable creative potential , which comes into play in many economic areas, must also be taken into account . ”The economic income is offset by the public expenditures that arise through the promotion of amateur music.

In 2014 the “ Choral music in German amateur choirs” and in 2016 the “Instrumental lay and amateur music making” were added to the nationwide list of the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.


In Austria, large lay organizations such as the Austrian Choir Association and the Austrian Brass Music Association play an essential role. These organizations are particularly committed to the musical education of young people as well as lifelong learning and adult education for people into old age.

The term “amateur musician” is controversial in Austria, especially since part-time musicians can achieve a level of performance that corresponds to that of professional musicians.


In Ireland, Irish folk music is traditionally played in sessions , often in the form of open sessions in pubs .


In Vilnius , Lithuania , Gatvės muzikos diena ( Street Music Day ) has been celebrated annually in May since 2007 . On the day initiated by the musician Andrius Mamontovas , everyone is allowed to make music on the streets. This idea was adopted by other cities and municipalities in Lithuania and also taken up in Riga, Minsk, Tbilisi and Dublin.

United States

According to a Gallup study in 2003, 54% of households had at least one person who played a musical instrument.

See also

Portal: Music  - Overview of Wikipedia content on music
Portal: Choral Music  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of choral music

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Stephan Schmitz: Musical education in amateur music. In: Cultural Education Online. 2013, accessed January 22, 2017 .
  2. a b Christina Bylow: Amateur orchestra in Berlin Music is her passion. Berliner Zeitung, November 6, 2015, accessed on January 28, 2017 .
  3. a b 14 million amateurs make music in Germany. Schweizer Musikzeitung, November 13, 2014, accessed on January 22, 2017 .
  4. Kurt Lüscher , Free musical improvisation: Playing with ambivalences . In: Udo Göttlich, Ronald Kurt, Creativity and Improvisation: Sociological Positions , pp. 209 ff., Springer, 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-18989-5 . P. 232 .
  5. ^ Hartmut Flechsig, Musical group improvisation. Lesson preparation with a didactic glossary , Music and Lessons, 1 (1990) 2, pp. 12-17. (Summary).
  6. ^ Matthias Schwabe, Exploring Improvisation - Exploring Music . In: Reinhard Gagel (Hrsg.), Matthias Schwabe (Hrsg.), Improvisation research - improvisierend research / Researching Improvisation - Researching by Improvisation: Contributions to Exploration of Musical Improvisation / Essays About the Exploration of Musical Improvisation , pp. 357 ff., Transcript , 2016, ISBN 978-3-8394-3188-7 . P. 368 .
  7. Holger Schramm: Mood Management through Music: The everyday use of music to regulate moods , Herbert von Halem Verlag , 2005, ISBN 978-3-931606-85-5 , p. 231
  8. Homo musicus. Telepolis, February 26, 2017, accessed February 26, 2017 .
  9. Choir classes in Lower Saxony ( Memento of the original from December 1, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Alexandra Kertz-Welzel: Community Music. An international concept is conquering Germany. (No longer available online.) In: musikschule DIREKT 2.2014, pp. 10–12. 2014, formerly in the original ; accessed on February 26, 2017 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  11. Jörg Lichtinger: alternative to high culture. In: neue musikzeitung 4/2013, 62nd year. Retrieved February 26, 2017 .
  12. a b Astrid Reimers: Lay music making. German Music Information Center, 2014, accessed on January 23, 2017 .
  13. ^ "Music division report": In Germany, 128,000 people are employed in music professions. Backstage PRO, April 13, 2017, accessed June 5, 2017 .
  14. Expert forum for lay / amateur music. Summary of the conference results. Landesmusikrat Hamburg, 2018, accessed on October 17, 2019 .
  15. Close cooperation between BDC and BDO agreed. Federal Association of German Choir Associations, accessed on January 23, 2017 .
  16. Amateur music in associations and clubs. (No longer available online.) Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture, Science and Art, archived from the original on January 22, 2017 ; accessed on January 22, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. No point without width. Conversation between Christian Höppner and BDO President Ernst Burgbacher. In: Musikforum, April – June 2007, 5th year. 2007, accessed February 6, 2019 . Pp. 41-42.
  18. Schack, Copyright and Copyright Contract Law , 8th edition 2017, Rn. 412. See also GEMA, Tariffs & Forms: Performance of Live Music , accessed on May 4, 2018.
  19. Dreier in Dreier / Schulze, Copyright , 5th edition 2015, § 52 Rn. 15; Haberstumpf in Mestmäcker / Schulze, commentary on German copyright law , status: 55th AL 2011, § 52 Rn. 19; Melichar in Schricker / Loewenheim, copyright , 5th edition 2017, § 52 marginal no. 29
  20. ^ Promotion of amateur ensembles. (No longer available online.) German Music Council, archived from the original on February 2, 2017 ; accessed on January 22, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  21. Answer of the Federal Government to the CDU / CSU's minor inquiry on the promotion and strengthening of voluntary choir and orchestra work (BT-Drs. 14/8762: 3). Quoted from: Lay music in Germany: overview and presentation of its social and economic role. German Bundestag, Scientific Services, 2008, accessed on January 23, 2017 . P. 6.
  22. ↑ House music. In: April 14, 2016, accessed February 15, 2020 .
  23. Ekkehard Klemm: Study "Lay music making" by the German Music Council and the MIZ. Association of German Concert Choirs, July 4, 2016, accessed on January 22, 2017 .
  24. Sometimes the hobby musician is more serious than the professional. In: neue musikzeitung, edition: 6/2003 - 52nd year. Retrieved January 29, 2017 .
  25. ↑ Lay music in Germany: overview and presentation of its social and economic role. German Bundestag, Scientific Services, 2008, accessed on January 29, 2017 .
  26. Austria, the country of music - where is the base? (No longer available online.) Austrian Choir Association, archived from the original on February 20, 2016 ; accessed on January 22, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  27. amateur music. In: Austrian Music Lexicon online. Retrieved January 22, 2017 .
  28. ^ Music in Ireland. Retrieved January 27, 2017 .
  29. Street Music Day (Gatvės muzikos diena). In: Retrieved September 9, 2019 .
  30. ^ Street Music Day. In: Retrieved September 9, 2019 .
  31. ^ Gallup Organization Reveals Findings of "American Attitudes Toward Making Music" Survey. National Organization of Music Merchants (NAMM), April 21, 2003, accessed March 6, 2017 .