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Advice for teachers -

Unit 3​ Music Investigation

Sample approach to developing an assessment task

Area of Study 1, 2 and 3


This task includes three sections:

  • report – based on research undertaken for Outcome 1
  • presentation – including demonstration of material that demonstrates key points about the characteristics of music that is characteristic of the styles and genres relevant to the Investigation Topic, exercises created for Outcome 2 and material from the Outcome 3 technical work program
  • responses to questions about material presented in the report and the presentation.

Together these task components assess the depth and breadth of students’ understanding of the performance practices, stylistic characteristics and contextual issues relevant to the Investigation Topic they have selected.

Note, VCAA must approve an Investigation Topic for each student. Information about this process, due dates and the application form are available on the Music Investigation index page.

Task design

Instructions for this task should be presented in a single document at the commencement of Unit 3. These initial instructions should provide a broad outline of the task and explain connections between its different parts and the three outcomes. Information about the format for presenting each section of the task and a timeline should be included with the instructions. Further instructions about specific parts of the tasks can also be provided.

The task design needs to incorporate key knowledge and key skills from Outcomes 1, 2 and 3. Care is required to make connections between the three sections of the task without undue duplication. For example, the prompt for the report might ask students to discuss a broad range of characteristic performance practices or treatment of specific elements of music whereas the requirements for the presentation/demonstration might be to link selected information and music examples from the report to the exercises created for Outcome 2 and the Outcome 3 technical work program. Questions posed in the final stage of the task should be crafted to clarify and extend material in the report and/or presentation and/or seek further information. Each section of the task should offer students opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and understanding about their Investigation Topic from a performer’s perspective.

Task conditions

The task is worth 100 marks and contributes 30 per cent of the study score for Music Investigation.

The task may be completed across one or more sessions. For example, the report could be completed and the presentation developed in class over two double periods using prompts/questions provided on the day, pre-approved notes and audio/visual material; students could then present/demonstrate material during class-time and either respond to questions as part of the presentation/demonstration or in a separate session where they are interviewed by their classroom and instrumental teachers.

The prompts/questions for any section of the task should not be published before the assessment takes place.

Other conditions may refer to use of instruments or other equipment in the practical components of the task.

Where possible all students in a class should be assessed under common conditions.


Preparation for the task begins at the commencement of Unit 3 as students explore options to develop a proposal for approval of their Investigation Topic. As well as completing individual research into relevant performance practices and music styles students might also participate in whole-class activities focusing on aural analysis, identifying and documenting music examples. Learning activities should be flexible as the level of knowledge each student will have of performance practices and music styles relevant to their Investigation Topic and their general knowledge of music theory, aural comprehension/perception skills, practical skills and experience in analysing music works and performances will vary. Students should keep digital and hard-copy notes and research records as they gather material they can draw on when preparing the report and presentation.

Preparing and writing the task

Teachers may provide a framework that outlines requirements for the task whilst allowing flexibility for individual students. For example:

Section 1: a report that identifies and describes key characteristics of music styles and genres and performance practice relevant to the Investigation Topic supported by music examples and analysis of a representative sample of works including the work selected from a VCAA prescribed list as the basis for the Investigation and/or performances by key practitioners.

Section 2: a practical demonstration that presents an overview of the key characteristics of music works and performance practices relevant to the music styles/genres studied in the Investigation. Exercises created by the student to develop their performance skills and material from the technical work program they have used to overcome challenges in preparing a performance program and develop their overall instrumental skills should also be included.

Section 3: responses to questions about material presented in the report (Section 1) and the presentation (Section 2).

Marking the task:

The marking scheme used to assess a student’s level of performance should reflect the relevant aspects of the performance descriptors and be explained to students before commencing the task.

A specific number of marks should be assigned to each part of the task. The contribution of each section of the task to the final score is Report (40 marks), Presentation (40 marks) and Responses to questions (20 marks).


Authentication issues can be minimised if students complete each section of the task under test conditions. Regular discussion with students about the progress of their investigation will also assist teachers to authenticate work submitted for assessment. Sheet music, music examples and other notes that students will use in the task should be authenticated and approved for use in the task before the assessment begins.