The students learned slåttespel, the traditional Norwegian violin or fiddle music. Activities have stadily increased, and by the end of 2014, more than 16.000 students from Norwegian colleges and universities had attended courses in folk music and folk dance at Ole Bull Akademiet.
In 1996, OBA established, together with the Grieg Academy (University of Bergen), a two-year study programme for folk music performers, which in 2004 was extended to a four-year Bachelor degree programme. Students are admitted every year to Tradisjonsmusikk I (the first 2 years) and Tradisjonsmusikk II. The 240-credit programme may be combined with other subjects at the University of Bergen.
The objectives of Ole Bull Akademiet are to:
- impart knowledge about and teach Norwegian folk music and folk dance to college and university students;
- give folk musicians an opportunity to attain a university level education;
- be a meeting place for Norwegian folk music and other kinds of music;
- convey knowledge about Norwegian folk music to people from other countries. Through research, publishing and student exchange, the Academy aims to increase knowledge about Norwegian folk music and folk dance.
Ole Bull Akademiet is a foundation with an officially appointed board who, together with the faculty and staff, are responsible for the overall planning and policy for the academy. OBA owns and runs Kringsjå guest house with accommodation for approximately 40 course participants. Additions to this building in 1994 and 2004 provided space for the academy administration, classrooms and a concert hall. The home of Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa is also used for concerts. OBA is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, Hordaland County and the Municipality of Voss.
The faculty at Ole Bull Akademiet are some of the most prominent folk musicians in Norway. They work closely with the faculty at Griegakademiet and the College of Stord/Haugesund, and with various folk music and other organizations. Many of Norway´s foremost folk musicians from various parts of the country are associated with Ole Bull Akademiet and provide about half of the teaching at the academy. The combination of academically educated instructors and prominent folk musicians, folk dancers and folk singers is characteristic of OBA. The academy is dedicated to creating a strong bond to both the roots of Norway´s traditions and the living folk music of today.
Every year in October Ole Bull Akademiet organizes the Osa Festival, which is a meeting place between folk music and classical music. OBA manages the Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa Fund and has in its stewardship the collection of violins and Hardanger fiddles after Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa.