The DP Music creative cycle has three sections – Inquiry, Action & Reflection.  Like its sibling in the MYP, this creative cycle begins with the acquisition of knowledge, moves through the act of music-making, and concludes with reflection before begin the process again. Also like the MYP version (click here), this creative cycle is adaptable to every Internal and External Assessment. 

The inquiry part of the creative cycle focuses on music and extra-music findings. Essential, both primary and secondary sources.  

For music findings, students must be able to locate stylistic characteristics in music, cite their evidence using images or time stamps, and give strong reasonings for their opinions. Discovery must never be an ending point, but rather must be the starting point for further action. Students are not simply completing a score analysis for score-analysis-sake; rather, they are searching for clues that can inform their own music-making throughout the course. They learn how both Mozart and Wagner treated the half-diminished seventh chord, in wildly different ways, so that they can see how they want to treat it. They learn how The Beatles incorporated elements of Indian music so their performances are historically / musically accurate. 

There are different ways of completing score analyses. Essentially, you must ensure that the students are asking when/where, what, and why. When they study the music, what do they notice, and why is this important? 

I typically ask my students to complete their word in a table (which was used in the old guide’s exam Section B). It’s an old idea, but still excellent to use. 

0:00 - 0:27Introduction - a cappella men's quartet singing homorhythmic closed chordsVery similar to a chant; gives a sacred feel to the piece, like being in a church; juxtaposition to what comes later
0:27 - 0:50Piano joins with arpeggiated chords Gives added texture and momentum to the piece. Still has a sacred fill, since vocals haven't changed their structure, but now with a more modern / rock feel

For more formal writing, I ask my students to complete a written paper. This way, I can check on their understanding of reference conventions.

Extra Music Findings involve students acting as ethnomusicologists. They are exploring the historical, societal, and cultural contexts of music that is in their Personal, Local, or Global contexts. 

Basically, asking these questions:

Societal: Who presents this music?

Cultural: What is the music and why is it create?

Historical: When is this music presented?

If we were in the PYP or MYP, we’d be talking about placing the music in its “Orientation in Time and Space.

Action relates to presenting music.  There are seven musical behaviours in which students participate:

  1. Composing
  2. Interpreting
  3. Arranging
  4. Performing
  5. Notating
  6. Describing
  7. Realising

All of these behaviours stem from the previous inquiry. Studying twelve-tone systems allows the student to compose their own. Studying how Prokofiev interpreted Classical music allows the student to create their own Neo-Classical composition. Analyzing how graphic scores are notated gives inspiration for students creating their own. 

There are three types of reflection in which students engage:

  1. Reflecting on their progress through the creative cycle. Students must have the self-awareness to evaluate their own work. This means evaluating their Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills to ensure they are working efficiently; it also means evaluating their decision-making skills as they took action to present music.
  2. Reflecting on their own work. This is evaluative in nature.  Like the DeBono thinking hats, they are asking what decisions they made, what positive outcomes emerged, what challenges needed to be overcome (or what deficiencies the artwork still has), and how they made their music creative.
  3. Reflecting on the work of others. This is where the creative cycle comes full circle, for reflecting on the work of others – such as through a score analysis – is also part of the student inquiry in the creative cycle. 

Reflecting must serve to improve their work by highlighting decisions made throughout the creative cycle.