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Advice for teachers -

Unit 3 Music Performance

Sample approach to developing an assessment task

Area of Study 3


This task assesses students understanding of music language used for performance, interpretation and critical listening. The task includes three sections:

  • aural and theory
  • written (listening and critical response)
  • practical.

Task design

The task is based on Area of Study 3, Music language and draws on Outcome 3 and associated key knowledge and key skills.

The task design needs to incorporate questions based on a representative cross-section of the knowledge and skills in each of the music language and listening and interpretation sections of the key skills. The mark allocations on page 38 of the VCE Music Study Design provide a guide to the scope and weighting for each section of the task.

Task conditions

The task is worth 50 marks and contributes 10 per cent of the study score for Music Performance.

The task may be completed across one or more sessions.

The questions or musical material for any sections of the task should not be published before the assessment takes place.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.

The format for practical tasks including a task that requires playing/singing and notating a previously unheard diatonic melody should be provided to students in advance.


Preparation for the task begins at the commencement of Unit 3 and can include a number of stages. For example, class and homework activities might include a combination of skill development drills and exercises and applying knowledge and skills in performance contexts, for example, rehearsals, performances of master classes. Other preparation might happen in intensive sessions focusing on specific knowledge and skills across aural, theoretical and practical contexts. Learning activities should be informed by the developmental stage of each student in terms of their knowledge of music theory, aural comprehension/perception skills, practical skills and experience in aural analysis of recorded performances.

Preparing and writing the task

The task design needs to draw on a broad range of the relevant knowledge and key skills within and across the three sections. Questions that test similar knowledge in different contexts can be included. For example, teachers might begin by developing a chart that identifies the different contexts in which knowledge and skills relating to intervals, chords, notation conventions, rhythmic organisation and so on can be tested.

Teachers need to decide on the duration and format for each section of the task. For example:

  • aural and theory test: 45–50 minutes including questions relating to intervals, scales and modes, tonality, chords, rhythms and transcription
  • listening and interpretation test: 20–30 minutes including two excerpts, one focusing on performers’ manipulation of elements of music in a single work/excerpt and the other focusing on comparison of treatment of elements in two different interpretations of a work/excerpt
  • practical test: 5–15 minutes including singling intervals, scales, short phrases and chord-tone arpeggios, melodic and rhythmic imitation and improvisation and singing/playing and notating a previously unheard diatonic melody.

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 question (including sub-parts) or practical task. The contribution of each section of the task to the final score is aural and theory – 20 marks, written (listening and critical response) – 10 marks and practical – 20 marks.


Authentication issues can be minimised if students complete the aural, writing and listening/interpretation sections of the task as a class. Using a range of source material for the practical task will assist in authenticating student work, particularly for large classes.