Diploma (Gr 11-12)

There are no Diploma classes being taught this year, below are units from previous years.

Introduction and General Information

During the 2 year course, students will be working mostly at their own pace. There are a few set deadlines however, to help students with organising their time, and managing their learning. The four parts of the course are listed below. Each topic will have a variety of due dates and assignments to be completed during the two year course.

  • Composition
  • History and Analysis
  • Performance
  • Musical Links Investigation

Below is the format for HL students. SL students will be similar, although they will have 1 less period each week. Unfortunately, they will still need to know all of the background information, so will probably end up with a bit more homework.

Week A Class 1 - Composition or Theory

Week A Class 2 - Performance

Week A Class 3 - History and Analysis

Week A Class 4 - History or MLI or Theory depending on need

Week B Class 1 - Composition or Theory

Week B Class 2 - History and Analysis

Week B Class 3 - History or MLI or Theory depending on need


Diploma Rubrics


Students in Higher level or in Standard level (composition) must submit 3 compositions as part of their final portfolio. To assist in this, there will be 6-7 compositions assigned, and then students may choose the best three for submission at the end of the course. A few things to note that will apply to ALL compositions:

  1. All compositions must be a minimum of 3 min in length, no matter which level you are at.
  2. Read the rubrics. This is how you will be marked, if you deviate from the rubric, then you won't be able to receive a good grade, no matter how awesome your composition is.
  3. Re-read the rubrics - keep referring back to it every few weeks, although you will "know" it, it's always good to have a little refresher, especially in the 2 weeks prior to handing something in!
  4. Keep a process journal. Write a paragraph or a few sentences after each composition session. These journals should include ideas that you've had, frustrations that you've felt, problems that you have encountered and solutions that you have tried. Screen shots are always an added benefit to these journals.
  5. Once you have 2-3 of your compositions completed, I encourage you to join the subscription based Vermont Midi Project / Composer online mentoring program . This is a PAID service, which you do NOT have to join. I'm telling you about it only because other students have found it very beneficial to use. I encourage you to check it out and read the requirements carefully.

Composition 1 - Gregorian chant,

Composition 2 - String Quartet, - due Jan 23 with extension until Jan 30

Composition 3 - Baroque Style - cancelled for 2013/14

Composition 4 - 5 instruments or Voices, due April 13

Composition 5 - Any style or instrumentation, due on June 8

Composition 6 - Something you have yet to compose for - if you've done a lot of string orchestra, try barbershop quartet, or rock band. Due Oct of grade 12

Portfolio - the compositions that will be uploaded to IB, along with the journals will be handed in Feb of grade 12

History and Analysis

All students will write the final exam in May of their grade 12 year. Practice exams will be held in June of their grade 11 year and Feb of their grade 12 year. To do well in these exams, students should have a good knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Western Music History (Ancient to Modern)
  2. World Music (genres from each continent and many cultures)
  3. Prescribed works (2) from the IB

Western Music History (Ancient to Modern) completed during grade 11

Students should use a variety of sources to gain their knowledge. The Norton text books (provided), Naxos listening library, Links on the Resources & Favorite Links page, itunes university, the many books that were placed in the library for you. There are many places to get information from. Also make sure to check out the books in the music area bookshelves.

Listening logs, Timelines and Dictionaries

  1. Listening logs should be completed each week, to make sure students understand what they are hearing.
    • Listening logs should be completed using a given template, and should include a variety of music from within each genre
    • 4 orchestral works from each time period (starting from the birth of the orchestra)
    • 4 instrumental (not orchestra) works from each time period
    • Try to choose works that demonstrate the characteristics of the period
    • Dr Smith Listening Log, Me Ma Me Listening Log, Listening Log
  2. Set up a history timeline, and fill in as we go. Looking specifically at each time period:
    • Significant composers,
    • Important instruments,
    • Musical Characteristics (eg ornamentation within Baroque period)
  3. Create a dictionary, either on paper or on your computer. As you come across Musical Terminology, add it to your personal dictionary, You’ll need this during Gr 12.

September/October - Gregorian Chant - Ancient music

  1. Assignment: Find 5 composers who would be classified as Antiquity or Middle Ages. Play the pieces, tell me about the piece and composer.

October /November - Renaissance

December / January - Baroque

February -Classical - due Mar 2

March -Romantic - due April 3

May / June - 20th century - due June 15

Summer - Modern rock / pop - blues, big band, pop, metal, rock etc

World Music (genres from each continent and many cultures) completed during grade 12

September/October - Asia

November - Africa

December/January - First Nations North America, Indigenous Australia / New Zealand

February - Central / South America

Prescribed works (2) from the IB

Each year there are 2 set works that the IB prescribe for students to study and learn about. These works should be learned in depth, including a score analysis. Students should know information about the composer, the state of the world at the time of the composition, original audience reaction to the pieces and any other interesting tidbits.

Set piece 1 - studied in April of Grade 11, December of Grade 12, and March of Grade 12

Set piece 2 - studied in May of Grade 11, January of Grade 12 and April of Grade 12

Listening Analysis

Students will practice their listening skills and essay writing throughout the course of the 2 years. Students can expect to do one practice essay during class time every 2-3 months, in addition to their formalised practice exams.


Students in Higher level as well as students in Standard level (performance) must submit a CD with 20 minutes of recital pieces on it. Students are encouraged to take private lessons throughout the course of the 2 years. Students (with the assistance of their private teacher) should choose a variety of repertoire that shows of a range of musical skills. As with the compositions, students will be required to complete more than the necessary time allotment so that they can choose their best pieces for their portfolios. Any instrument is acceptable to complete the performance component on, so long as that student is able to accomplish a full 20 minute varied program on that instrument. This can be anything from traditional western orchestral instruments, to traditional arabic instruments to modern rock instruments, and everything in between.

November 5 - 5 minutes

March 17 - 10 minutes

May - 5 minutes

November of grade 12 - 10 minutes

January of grade 12 - any remaining minutes needed, and CD created

Musical Links Investigation

Students are required to write an independent investigation that compares 2 distinct musical cultures, but comparing a piece that is representative of each culture. Students will briefly touch on the MLI during the first part of the course in grade 11. Students are then expected to complete the MLI during the summer of grade 11. As this is a major piece of writing, students are strongly encouraged to have others (writing centres, university friends, parents, english teachers etc) read through the drafts.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Read the rubrics
  2. Read the IBO definition of musical culture
  3. Re-read the rubrics as you write your drafts
  4. Get comments from others on how to improve
  5. Make sure you use musical terminology in your writing
  6. Try to have a copy of the sheet music or transcribe the pieces wherever possible

Pre-MLI activities:

  1. Assignment Due Nov of Gr 11: Do a DR SMITH analysis of 2 pieces of different musical cultures (Example: 1 from gregorian chant and 1 from japanese folk) and upload, along with a paragraph or two on the similarities and differences.
  2. Assignment Due December of Gr 11: Make a copy of and complete the MLI beginning activity, Save it in your shared music folder in Google drive
  3. Assignment Due March Gr of 11: Write a statement that includes
    • 2 cultures you wish to compare,
    • 3 ways you can compare them musically
    • 2 possible songs that you can use

Final copy submitted for marking in September of grade 12 year (you may make changes based on comments after this)

Final copy for portfolio submitted in December of grade 12 year (no further changes allowed)