Equity in music education in Finland: A policy window opened through the case of “Figurenotes”

  • Sanna Kivijärvi Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
  • Pauli Rautiainen Kalevi Sorsa Foundation, Finland


This article illustrates how a social innovation, Figurenotes, has contributed and can contribute,
through conceptual change, to the advancement of equity in Basic Education in the Arts (BEA),
Finland’s publicly funded system of extracurricular music education. BEA has traditionally been
characterised by structures and pedagogical practices–such as the use of Western standard music
notation–that influence the accessibility of music studies. The theoretical framework for this interview
study consists of change-theoretical concepts: namely, social innovation, multiple streams, and
policy windows. The findings are presented at two levels. First, the innovation process of Figurenotes
is described to explain social innovation development. Second, three different strands of discourse
on the concept of special music education expose the educational policy change generated by this
innovation. The findings suggest that the use of Figurenotes has raised awareness of inequity in the
institutional agenda and has encouraged this problem to be addressed through the public policy
process. The opening of this policy window is critically discussed in relation to the establishment
of the field of special music education, and in relation to inclusion and equity policies as well as

Original Articles
educational equity, Figurenotes, multiple streams framework, policy window, social innovation, special music education