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Level 8 music – sound arts achievement objectives

The four arts strands work in combination. Together they provide the basis for a well-rounded programme. They weave through all aspects of learning in music – sound arts: composing, performance, or reflection and analysis.

Generally, the strands are not taught alone. When focusing on teaching achievement objectives from one strand, teachers will usually find they can incorporate objectives from another strand.

The strands are separated here as a way of helping teachers to unpack the language of the strands and the objectives at this level.

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.

For any terminology used in the achievement objectives, or the indicators, check (and download) the Arts Online music – sound arts glossary.

Understanding music – sound arts in context (UC)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • research, analyse, and evaluate the production and presentation of music works historical, social, and cultural contexts
  • apply their understandings of the expressive qualities of music from a range of contexts to analyse its impact on their own music practices.


  • Examines and articulates how the sound environment, historical issues, and production and presentation values have impacted on and influenced the development of a musical genre/style, for example, popular music, twenty-first century orchestral works, traditional kapa haka, or contemporary dance music.
  • Investigates and evaluates the impact of social and cultural issues at the time the work was composed on the continuing evolution of the genre/style of music, for example, indie rock, string quartets, hula.
  • Identifies and analyses the production and presentation values in a range of sound arts practices and techniques and articulates how they have led to further development of the musical genre/style or have affected the way it is heard or performed. For example, symphonies, rock opera, folk music, protest music.
  • Experiences a range of performance and composition practices and techniques and uses this learning to extend and deepen understanding of theoretical knowledge and cultural significance.

Developing practical knowledge in music – sound arts (PK)

Achievement objective

Students will:

  • analyse, apply, and evaluate significant expressive features and stylistic conventions and technologies in a range of music, using aural perception and practical and theoretical knowledge.


  • Practically investigates and examines complex musical material to develop instrumental, technological, aural, and composition knowledge, extending musical vocabularies and practical skills.
  • Uses knowledge gained through practical and theoretical research and a broad range of experiences, together with appropriate music terminology and practices, to identify significant expressive features in musical genres/styles, for example, altered notes, stereotyped harmonic progressions, instrumental groupings, figured bass example, and so on.
  • Aurally deconstructs and identifies the conventions, characteristics, significant expressive features, and genre specific techniques within selected music genres and styles. For example: Sardinian polyphonic vocal music, African sanza/mbira music, piano sonatas, progressive rock, improvisation.
  • Uses music technologies appropriately to refine and extend knowledge and skills in the execution of own musical ideas with integrity in varying musical genres/styles.

Developing ideas in music – sound arts (DI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • create, structure, refine, and represent compositions and musical arrangements, using secure technical and musical skills and technologies to express imaginative thinking and personal understandings
  • reflect on and evaluate composition processes and presentation conventions.


  • Investigates, experiments, and reflects on a range of compositional processes (ways of developing concepts for creative music, ways of generating imaginative new musical ideas, ways of evaluating compositions) and on technologies to develop understanding of other presentation possibilities.
  • Manipulates, experiments, and refines successful combinations of musical elements (tempo, scale, style, instrumentation, timbral combinations); uses compositional devices (repetition, retrograde, imitation, fragmentation, augmentation, diminution, inversion, ornamentation) and structures (arch form, song form, binary, ternary, rondo, 12 bar blues); and uses music technologies to create technically secure original music.
  • Produces, assesses, and improves arrangements to successfully communicate expressive intentions (an idea, mood, image, theme, feeling, or message).
  • Assesses and reconsiders composition processes and conventions for notation or other forms of written representation. Generates, selects, and develops an idea to create a musical composition that expresses the composer’s intention.

Communicating and interpreting in music – sound arts (CI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • plan, rehearse, present, record, evaluate, and refine performances of music, individually and collaboratively, demonstrating interpretive understandings
  • critically analyse and evaluate the expressive qualities of music and production processes to refine interpretations of music.


  • Develops and produces a sustained performance of music, either as a soloist or group. Uses recordings and rehearsals to assess, reconsider, and refine the performance.
  • Demonstrates the techniques and musicianship appropriate and integral to the style being performed and reflects on these in terms of the quality and impact of the performance. Performs with accuracy and expressiveness and with stylistic integrity to the genre/style.
  • Communicates musical works with clarity, confidence, and control, reflecting the intentions of the composer (such as the emotional content or expressive idea) through the musical embodiment and interpretation. Is able to soundly critique the success of their performances.
  • Deconstructs and makes judgments about the individual musical elements (rhythm, melody, harmony, instrumentation, structure) and compositional devices (repetition, sequences, augmentation, inversion) in recorded music performances, in their own and in other music works.
  • Makes judgments and critically articulates the qualities of music performances and compositions and justifies personal responses to a range of music, including quality of expression, technical considerations, and presentation impact in relation to the style, genre, and social and cultural context.

Assessment for qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards are in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 in 2012. Level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

The NZQA subject-specific resources pages are very helpful. From there, you can find all the achievement standards and links to assessment resources, both internal and external.

Learn more:

Not all learning in music – sound arts needs to be assessed. There is value in music creation and the exploration of genre and style that may not be assessed but could be a valuable step towards more complex work in the following year of study.

Level 3 achievement standards

  • 91416 Making music 3.1 Perform two programmes of music as a featured soloist; Internal, 8 credits
  • 91417 Making music 3.2 Perform a programme of music as a featured soloist on a second instrument; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91418 Making music 3.3 Demonstrate ensemble skills by performing two substantial pieces of music as a member of a group; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91419 Making music 3.4 Communicate musical intention by composing three original pieces of music; Internal, 8 credits
  • 91420 Making music 3.5 Integrate aural skills into written representation; External, 4 credits
  • 91421 Music studies 3.6 Demonstrate understanding of harmonic and tonal conventions in a range of music scores; External, 4 credits
  • 91422 Music studies 3.7 Analyse a substantial music work; External, 4 credits
  • 91423 Music studies 3.8 Examine the influence of context on a substantial music work; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91424 Music studies 3.9 Create two arrangements for an ensemble; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91425 Music studies 3.10 Research a music topic; Internal, 6 credits

Last updated August 28, 2020