- To realize the music potential of each and every student to the fullest extent possible, by nurturing, motivating, challenging them in a student-centered approach
- To develop an appreciation of, and nurture a lifelong passion for music
- To uphold the rich musical tradition of the College and let music be the collective memory of St. Paulians
- To strive relentlessly for artistic excellence in the teaching and learning of music
- To cultivate a set of transferrable skills, such as discipline, attentiveness, creativity, confidence and interpersonal skills through the process of learning music
- To broaden students’ horizons and exposures in humanities through music making
The music curriculum at St. Paul’s Co-educational College is organized around topics. Within each of the topics, a generative question is included that links to a range of other disciplines. The generative question is a gateway to inquiry, which helps students to make links to existing knowledge, to allow the opportunity for multiple perspectives and to provide scope for interdisciplinary connections. The question could have a range of different functions in learning, but here it provides a framework in which students feel safe to explore topics, links and perspectives in greater depth.
In addition to the generative questions, the materials within these topics are organized with a range of skills in mind – historical understanding, theoretical, performance, listening, presentation, problem solving, creativity, information technology and collaborative. Although not all of these skills are addressed in every topic, over the course of a year, students will develop in all of these areas. We believe that these components form part of the skills needed in life and they are therefore not to be underestimated.
Assessment takes both summative and formative types and covers listening tasks, group presentations, instrumental examinations, melodic writing, creating sound tracks, cultural investigations, as well as a host of other forms.
The curriculum also caters for differentiation in that group work is a feature of all courses. It is important to recognize, however, that some students excel at working on their own, and so when possible this option should be made available to them. This means that at any given time both group and individual exploration are occurring simultaneously. In both group and individual settings, a range of questions are offered to students in which only a certain number need be attempted. This is often empowering to students and a highly motivational factor in eliciting the best possible answers, and yet still satisfying the aims of the unit. Choice in general is an important factor in catering for differentiation. In reflection tasks for example, students may wish to express their thoughts in a number of different ways so it is important that the teacher adopts a flexible approach and not stipulate the manner in which the reflection takes.
The curriculum also includes activities and assessment tasks that cater for the gifted. Incentives are offered to students to take up these challenges and appropriate rewards are given. These extension tasks allow these students to explore the issues further and to move beyond knowledge, comprehension, and application towards more higher-level thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom, 1956). The Program for the Musically Gifted (PMG) will continue to be part of the curriculum in 2017-18 for selected students in Forms 1-5, but these extension tasks are an essential component of the regular music classes as well, which offer appropriate challenges to all students.
Updates to the Music Curriculum
The updated Form One Music Curriculum (from September 2016) has shifted its focus from an information-based historical approach to a more practical, skill-based approach, with an aim to promote and foster critical listening and thinking. The elements of music become the core backbone of the Form One and Two curricula; upon which, students will be able to appreciate and analyze music of any genre with deepened understanding of its “mechanics”: how a piece of music is “constructed” with the “building blocks”.
Furthermore, more time and emphasis are now placed on fostering creativity in all forms, where students are asked to apply their knowledge of these building blocks into creative projects, be it composing their own rhythms, melodies or even a complete musical work, depending on their prior experience and ability.