Percentage of pupils by age group (VdM report 2022 referring to 2021)¹

Percentage of pupils by age group (VdM report 2022 referring to 2021)
Public music schools had approximately 1.4 million pupils in the calendar year 2021. Particularly in the younger age groups, pupil numbers declined in the pandemic years.

According to the most recent statistics of the Association of German Music Schools (VdM), approximately 1.4 million people were enrolled at a public music school. The data of the VdM statistics 2022 refer to the entire calendar year 2021 and thus reflect the situation in the second year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the public music schools recorded a pandemic related decrease of almost 145,000 pupils.

The most represented groups at public music schools are pre-school children under 6 years of age (15.6 % of the pupils in the calendar year 2021), primary school children aged 6 to 9 years (the largest group at 31.9 %) and 10 to 14 year olds (25.1 %). About one tenth of the pupils are teens aged 15 to 18.

Number of pupils by age group
Figure: Number of pupils by age group

The number of pupils has been declining recently, especially among younger children. These are the age groups that were most of all unable to participate group offers under the statewide Corona protection measures and for whom digital alternatives are not effective due to their age. In absolute terms, in the calendar year 2021 there were about 437,400 6 to 9 year olds who took part in the extracurricular musical education programmes of the public music schools - 55,000 fewer than in the calendar year 2019. Also at pre-school age, significantly fewer children were reached in 2021 (214,000 pupils, a decrease of almost 42,500). While the number of pupils in the other age groups remained more or less constant in the first corona year, the public music schools recorded a decline in the number of pupils among the 10 to 14 year olds by about 24,000 in the second Corona year.

In the years before the pandemic, the number of pupils of pre-school and primary school age experienced the most significant increases. For children aged 10 and 14, on the other hand, it has remained fairly stable since 2014, at just under 370,000 annually. The number of teenagers (15 to 18 years old) decreased slightly since 2014 to approx. 138,000 most recently.

When they reach adulthood, significantly fewer people decide to take advantage of the music schools' offers. Most recently, there were around 40,000 young adults up to the age of 25, more than 76,000 26- to 60-year-olds and almost 33,000 over 60-year-olds. Older people in particular, however, are increasingly turning to active music-making. The number of music school pupils over 60 was 18,740 in 2014 and has grown significantly since then.

Age distribution at public music schools in the Association of German Music Schools (VdM)
Table: Age distribution at public music schools in the Association of German Music Schools (VdM)


The data is based on an annual full survey of the Association of German Music Schools (VdM) among its member schools; most recently these were 934 public music schools. Figures up to and including the year 2013 are taken from 1 January of the year concerned; those after 2014 are based on a full calendar year (1 January to 31 December of the preceding year). This change of methodology has a significant impact on the number of students, for the later figures also include pupils enrolled in projects or other courses of limited duration as well as those who dropped out during the year and were thus previously excluded from statistics based on the 1 January reference day.



  1. The data reflect number of student enrolments of the previous calendar year 2021.
  2. Excl. enrolments in multiple subjects.
  3. Excluded are 12 music schools in Berlin that were not member of the VdM at the time of data collection and evaluation in 2003, comprising 37,839 pupils in total.
  4. As of 2014, a new methodology of data collection has been applied. See note.
  5. Number of VdM member music schools on 1 January of the subsequent year.

Source information

Compiled and calculated by the German Music Information Centre from VdM-Jahresbericht 2022, ed. Association of German Music Schools (VdM), 2023, and various issues of Statistisches Jahrbuch der Musikschulen in Deutschland, published annually by the VdM.

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