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Music – sound arts achievement objectives


Music – sound arts is most effectively taught by weaving together the four strands as though creating polyphony.

The strands are integrated. They are woven into processes, skills, and conventions and musical learning activities. They are separated as a way of helping teachers to understand each strand and how they weave together.

Exploring all the strands through listening and analysing, reading and playing, creating or recording music helps students to understand music in a richer context – from musicological, compositional, practical, analytical (theoretical), and technological perspectives.

For example, during a development phase, such as assisting students to learn and prepare a piece of music for performance, emphasis may fall on helping students to learn new instrumental techniques (developing practical knowledge) while at the same time acknowledging that any music to be performed will have a context (understanding context), will reflect a particular style of performance, will require understanding of form and structure, and will involve appropriate and effective communication of musical intent (communicating and interpreting).

Music is frequently a collaborative art in which students must sometimes work with others, and at other times individually.

They may wish to improvise and develop ideas for their own musical work using the piece of music they have learned to present for performance. Here, a performance piece may be the source of motivation for creating music, perhaps focusing on a particular instrumental technique, musical convention, or style.

Progression in music – sound arts

Students’ progress is demonstrated by their increasingly sophisticated ability to identify, respond to, analyse, research, apply, and reflect on music concepts, processes, and conventions in performance and composition.

As independence increases students become more autonomous and self-directed, and depend less on teacher direction and support.

For example, by level 6, students will actively choose repertoire for performance or music works study, and should begin to develop a personal voice in music composition.

At this level, the teacher acts more as coach and confidant through asking reflective questions, providing options, suggesting ways forward, and capitalising on the students’ developing competencies.

Teachers support students to link decision-making and problem-solving strategies to their individual values, learning behaviours, skills, and aesthetic preferences.

By level 8, students should have developed an effective and productive personal process and skill set and will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their musical process, skills, decisions, learning disposition and aesthetic.

  • Students move from listening and responding to music from a wide range of sound environments (for example, digital/analogue); styles (for example, classical/popular); and genres (for example, cantata/waiata) in relation to historical, social, and cultural contexts to describing, explaining, researching, analysing, and evaluating the production and presentation of music. As students progress, they learn in more depth, moving from exploring a broad range of music experiences to engaging with more specific techniques, processes, conventions, and forms.
  • Students move from considering and reflecting on the influence of music in their own music making and lives to applying new understandings of the expressive qualities of music to their own music making. Complexity increases as they revisit concepts and skills in increasingly complex and sophisticated ways.
  • Students move from identifying the elements of music in various contexts, to applying knowledge of expressive features (for example, dynamics, bowing, articulation), stylistic conventions (for example, figured bass, pinch harmonics), and technologies (for example, microphones, amplification, reverb) through an integration of aural perception, practical, and theoretical skills. Students describe, analyse, apply, and evaluate how expressive features are used in a range of music.
  • Students move from exploring sound, improvising and playing with ideas and music technologies, and representing ideas to generating and shaping musical ideas, structuring, refining, and representing fully developed compositions. They use a variety of media, conventions, and technologies to express imaginative thinking and personal understandings. Students acquire increasing control in music composition as a medium of personal expression and communication.
  • Students move from reflecting on composition processes and presentation conventions to reflecting on and evaluating those processes. As consciousness progresses, students are increasingly able to deliberate on and skillfully structure their works and articulate their thinking and musical choices.
  • Students move from preparing and presenting brief performances to planning, rehearsing, interpreting, presenting, evaluating, and recording sustained performances of music individually and collaboratively, using a range of performance skills and techniques and recording technologies. Students acquire increasing control in music performance as a medium of personal expression and communication.
  • Students move from reflecting on the expressive qualities of music and evaluation of their own and others’ music (live and recorded) to critically analysing and evaluating the expressive qualities of music and production processes in order to refine interpretations of music.


Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion of how they might be used with the focus achievement objective.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situation, community relevance, and students’ interests and needs.

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Last updated June 25, 2012