Research project

Project description

In December 2020, a biennial research project (15/12/2020 – 14/12/2022) about the music education system in the Province of Trento kicked off.

The research, funded by Fondazione Caritro, wants to lay stable foundations for the study of the music schools system in Trentino through the analysis of the organizations and people who interact in various roles with the schools, and their networks. Organisations of the music system include: music schools, public actors (provinces and municipalities), public education (the University, its Conservatory, music high schools, junior and primary schools, social and health services), choir associations and local band federations, and other organisations of the cultural industries.

Based on the idea that music education generates skills, as well as social relations, while creating space for the expression of artistic and creative attitudes, the research examines music schools and their ability to create capabilities, à la Sen. This is a novel way to interpret the music educational system, since it does not solely acknowledge the potential to create educational value, but also artistic and cultural, and relational value (Sacchetti & Marchesin, 2020). Thus, this research becomes a way to understand if and how schools and the system where they operate can increase the “vitality” of musicians, students and other actors within and beyond the territory in terms of motivation, participation, artistic initiatives and collaborations.

Through the active engagement with the research stakeholders, academic events, questionnaires and interviews, the project will seek the collaboration of all stakeholders of the Province of Trento. At an extra-provincial level, for exploratory purposes, comparisons will be made with the neighbouring Province of Bolzano, which is also characterised by a strong role of the public sector in music education but different coordination solutions, and with some neighbouring regions, where the public sector plays a marginal role. Appropriate comparisons will be developed at national level through an exploratory survey, and at international level with partner organisations (University of British Colombia, Kelowna, Canada and University of St Andrews, Scotland).


The project aims at highlighting the advantages, limitations and opportunities for schools, musicians, students and other territorial actors enhancing the whole system as a transversal asset for a range of individual and collective needs.

The results to be achieved are:

  • the development of a theoretical-conceptual approach to appraise the benefits and limitations of the whole music education sector;
  • its potential to generate "vitality" and welfare for the community and its constituent actors;
  • the development of policy recommendations on how to improve the vitality of the sector;
  • to set up an Observatory that brings together academics and stakeholders on the music and more generally on the cultural sectors through the creation of an international community of interest.

Community Impact

In Trentino there are many different non-profit and for-profit organisations offering music educational services. This context offers a unique scenario, when compared to the rest of the country, for one particular reason: the Province and third sector organizations coordinate their resources in order to maximize community’s access to music education, in a locality where urban and rural areas coexist. The public and private collaboration recognises that playing music and likewise the diffusion of musical culture and performance skills, in music as well as in other performing arts, are an asset for the community. The public administration can facilitate access through specific policies and organisational solution.

In 1987, The Province of Trento has set up the Music Schools Register that includes the schools that share and adhere to a specific curricular prescriptions and regulation. Besides these schools, there are also other organisations in the area involved in music education or other music-related activities, which are not part of the Register, are not bound to its regulation, and do not receive public support. On the one hand, to abide to the regulation provides public inflow of resources and therefore stability to the educational system and teaching contracts. On the other hand, where there is the risk of excessive standardization, the research hypothesises that a bottle neck in the system, identified with the risk to constrain the artistic dimension and innovation potential of the people that act within the system (e.g. musicians and music students), thus impacting on their motivation.

The project aims to map a multi-centric system where participant’s diversity of rules, the complementarities between organizations and their skills can activate unexplored resources and dynamics of community empowerment development. The idea of “vitality” (Sacchetti, 2020), as opposed to inertia or lock-in, is based on a number of indicators concerning motivation, the level of participation, the multiplicity of roles and relationship of the participants, their capacity (inextricably linked to their self-actualization and wellbeing). This idea is part of the studies on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) that identifies with organizations such as, among others, foundations, voluntary associations, cooperatives and social enterprises. More generally, SSE “goes beyond formal organizing if we think about it as a movement or as a transformative, inclusive and participatory culture that supports a different way of understanding relations, the use of resources and people’s motives” also in the artistic and cultural sector (Sacchetti, 2021).

Research unit

The collaboration with the international partners specifically aim to develop the theoretical-conceptual framework of the project and, subsequently, apply (within each specific projects and funders also identified by the partners) the research protocol in the Canadian and Scottish contexts, which are characterised, like the Trentino province, by the presence of isolated centres and rural areas, and also issues of social marginalisation and marked cultural specificities.


Christoforou, A. (interviewer) & Sacchetti, S. (interviwee), (2021). A Corner for Dialogue and Change with Silvia Sacchetti. ASE Newsletter - Winter 2021, (February 3, 2021).

Diani, M. (2015). The Cement of Civil Society: Studying Networks in Localities. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fele G. & Russo M. (2017). Cifariello Ciardi F. (a cura di) Creatività musicali. Narrazioni, pratiche e mercato. Milano: Mimesis.

Sacchetti, S. (2019). What can economic coordination do for creativeness and self-actualisation. EURAM conference proceedings, December 2020.

Sacchetti, S. & Borzaga, C. (2020). The foundations of the “public organisation”: governance failure and the problem of external effects. Journal of Management and Governance.

Sacchetti, S. & Marchesin, G. (2020). Il sistema delle scuole musicali in Trentino e la produzione di valore collettivo. Impresa Sociale, v. 2020, n. 2, p. 63-77.