Learning in Music

Students learning Music listen, perform and compose. They learn about the elements of music comprising rhythm, pitch, dynamics and expression, form and structure, timbre and texture. Aural skills, or ear training, are the particular listening skills students develop to identify and interpret the elements of music. Aural skills development is essential for making and responding to a range of music while listening, composing, and performing. Learning through music is a continuous and sequential process, enabling the acquisition, development and revisiting of skills and knowledge with increasing depth and complexity.

Making in Music involves active listening, imitating, improvising, composing, arranging, conducting, singing, playing, comparing and contrasting, refining, interpreting, recording and notating, practising, rehearsing, presenting and performing.

Responding in Music involves students being audience members listening to, enjoying, reflecting on, analysing, appreciating and evaluating their own and others’ musical works.

Both making and responding involve developing aural understanding of the elements of music through experiences in listening, performing and composing. The elements of music work together and underpin all musical activity. Students learn to make music using the voice, body, instruments, found sound sources, and information and communication technology. Music is recorded and communicated as notation by a unique system of symbols and terminology, and as audio recordings using technology. With increasing experience of the elements of music, students develop analytical skills and aesthetic understanding.

Knowledge and skills of Music

In Music, students’ exploration and understanding of the elements of music, musical conventions, styles and forms expands with their continued active engagement with music.

In listening to, performing and composing music from a broad range of styles, practices, traditions and contexts, students learn to recognise their subjective preferences and consider diverse perspectives of music. This, in turn, informs the way in which they interpret music as performers and how they respond to the music they listen to. Additionally, students develop their own musical voice as composers and their own style as musicians.

The information below outlines the knowledge and skills that students need to develop in music. Terms specific to this curriculum are defined in the glossary and a hyperlink to examples of band-appropriate knowledge and skills is provided with the content descriptions.

The elements of music

Music is learnt through developing skills and knowledge associated with the elements of music. Musical ideas are conceived, organised and shaped by aspects and combinations of rhythm, pitch, dynamics and expression, form and structure, timbre and texture.


In making and responding, students learn that meanings can be generated from different viewpoints and that these shift according to different world encounters. As students make, investigate or critique music as composers, performers and audiences, they may ask and answer questions to interrogate, explore and investigate the composers’ and performers’ meanings, and the audiences’ interpretations. Meanings and interpretations are informed by contexts of societies, cultures and histories, and an understanding of how elements, materials, skills and processes are used. These questions provide the basis for making informed critical judgements about their own music and the music they interpret as musicians and listen to as audiences. The complexity and sophistication of such questions will change across Foundation to Year 10. In the later years, students will consider the interests and concerns of composers, performers and audiences regarding philosophies and ideologies, critical theories, institutions and psychology.

Types of music

In each band, students learn about increasingly complex forms of music as they make and respond to different musical styles and genres, from a range of historical and cultural contexts. These may include different types of songs and instrumental genres, music in film and media, contemporary and new music trends, and folk and art music from varied cultures, traditions and times.

Students begin with music experienced in their own lives and community, and identify the purposes of music. They draw on the histories, traditions and conventions of music from other places and times including Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, Asia and other world cultures.

Skills, techniques and processes

When making and responding, students’ musical skills are best developed through activities which integrate the techniques and processes of music: listening, composing and performing.

Listening is the process through which music is experienced and learnt. This includes listening to, analysing and comparing a range of repertoire. Developing aural skills (ear training) as the technique for discriminating, identifying, interpreting and applying musical concepts is essential for all listening, composition and performing activities.

Composing is a broad term for creating original music. In the classroom, this involves improvising, organising musical ideas, creating accompaniment patterns, and arranging and writing original works, either individually or collaboratively.

Performing involves playing instruments, singing or manipulating sound using technology, either as an individual or ensemble member. This includes learning songs, instrumental pieces, accompaniments, and works composed by self and others. Audiences can include the teacher, peers in class, the wider school community and public audiences.

These learning experiences are supported by extra activities including learning and creating notation to record and communicate musical ideas; reading, writing and interpreting a range of terminology, notation and scores; making audio recordings of compositions and performances using technology; and developing skills and techniques to discuss their own music and the music of others.


The initial materials of music are the voice and body, instruments and other sound sources. Additional materials include recorded music and scores, technologies such as recording and playback equipment and software, and spaces for creating, practising and performing.

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