IB Music Syllabus & Assessment

The IBDP HL Music course comprises both internal and external assessments with various components on exploring music in context, experimenting with music, and presenting music. Students will engage with settings of contemporary music-making that reflect the dynamic and mutual influence of music and technology at the heart of the contemporary musical experience.

First Assessment from 2022

External/ Internal Weightage (%)

Exploring Music in Context

Students select samples of their work for a portfolio submission (maximum 2,400 words). Student submit:

a.   Written work demonstrating engagement with, and understanding of, diverse musical material


b.   Practical exercises:

·      Creating: one creating exercise (score maximum 32 bars and/or audio 1 minute as appropriate to style)

·      Performing: one performed adaptation of music from a local or global context for the student’s own instrument (maximum 2 minutes)

c.    Supporting audio material (not assessed)

External 20%

Experimenting with Music

Students submit an experimentation report with evidence of their musical processes in creating and performing in two areas of inquiry in a local and/or global context. The report provides a rationale and commentary for each process. Students submit:

a.   A written experimentation report that supports the experimentation (maximum 1,500 words)


b.   Practical musical evidence of the experimentation process

·      Three related excerpts of creating (total maximum 5 minutes)

·      Three related excerpts of performing (total maximum 5 minutes)

Internal 20%

Presenting Music

Students submit a collection of works demonstrating engagement with diverse musical material from four areas of inquiry. The submission contains:

a.    Presenting as a researcher


·      Programme notes (maximum 600 words)


b.    Presenting as a creator


·      Composition and/or improvisation (maximum 6 minutes)


c.    Presenting as a performer


·      Solo and/or ensemble (maximum 12 minutes)

·      Excerpts, where applicable (maximum 2 minutes)

External 30%
The Contemporary Music-Maker

Students submit a continuous multimedia presentation documenting their real-life project. Students submit multimedia presentation (maximum 15 minutes), evidencing:

a.    The project proposal

b.    The process and evaluation

c.    The realized project, or curated selections of it


Internal 30%


Assessment Objectives:  Students will be expected to demonstrate and achieve the following assessment objectives:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content, contexts and processes
    • Explore the relationship between music and its contexts
    • Identify information from academic and practical inquiry
    • Present ideas, discoveries and learning in authentic ways
  • Demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding
    • Experiment with musical findings in local and global contexts
    • Articulate a clear rationale to support the musical decision-making processes
    • Justify the use of creating and performing elements
  • Demonstrate synthesis and evaluation
    • Communicate and present diverse musical conventions and practices
    • Purposefully present created and performed works
    • Make informed choices in communicating and presenting music
    • Evaluate their own work and the work of others
  • Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques
    • Select musical information in academic and practical inquiry through relevant musical skills and techniques
    • Identify, select and apply musical skills and techniques to shape and transform musical material
    • Demonstrate appropriate use of musical conventions and practices when creating and performing in diverse contexts
    • Work collaboratively to achieve defined musical project outcomes
    • Demonstrate planning, responsibility and ownership in managing and completing a musical project

Note: IBDP students who wish to pursue research in music may do so through a 4000-word Extended Essay in Music.