Listening Paper – Section C – a tribute

The May 2015 exam session brought a change to the DP Music Listening Paper: the elimination of section C for HL students (the musical links discussion using two pieces from section B). I would like to honour section C as I found great value in the skills, knowledge and understandings that were embedded in this section.
One of the many elements of the DP Music Listening Paper that I value is how the paper invites students to ‘think on their feet’ and to apply their musical understanding to new and unfamiliar music. Both sections A and B of the paper have elements of the unknown, as students do not precisely know what will be asked of them on the Listening Paper.

Section C invited deep musical synthesis at a high level. Also, the skills, knowledge and understanding of section C translated easily into the Musical Links Investigation (MLI) and an Extended Essay in music. In my classroom, I found that if I focused on musical links throughout my curriculum, students were successful in both section C and their MLIs. The organisation of my curriculum presented western art music in a somewhat chronological manner but I worked to always have a non-western contrasting piece that we analysed alongside the western art music analyses. The links conversations were part of the daily instruction. Fortunately the Musical Links Investigation is still part of the DP Music curriculum, but the MLI is a long-term product – students complete there MLI over many weeks. Section C of the Listening Paper invited students to demonstrate this skill with unknown music with approximately 25 minutes to demonstrate their strongest musical thinking.

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