Music updates

The revised Diploma Programme (DP) music course began first teaching in August 2020 with first assessment in May 2022.

The course is thoroughly updated to better prepare students for a world with increasing access to global musical cultures and rapidly changing music industries. The course strengthens students’ competencies to strategize, plan, execute and justify their creative choices to become effective life-long learners and resume a place of responsibility in the contemporary world.

Summary of changes

The revised DP music course addresses contemporary developments in music professions, industries and technologies. The course's approach to creating and performing clarifies and strengthens student creativity through practical, informed and purposeful explorations of diverse musical material, practices and contexts.

These integrated approaches develop and refine critical and creative thinking, holistic mindsets as well as flexible design-and project-based skills, all of which are highly sought after by universities and employers. The DP music curriculum prepares young musicians for the future by being:

  • inclusive of students with wide-ranging personal and cultural music backgrounds
  • holistic by stretching student learning beyond conventions and cultures, while challenging young people to expand their musical comfort zones and to think and act creatively
  • integrated in its design, demonstrating for students that all musical learning is connected and valuable to their practical work
  • robust in its incorporation of practical music-making into all learning tasks, including the mastery of theoretical understanding and the exploration of contextual information
  • relevant to the 21st century learner by emphasizing student agency and personal musical identity as a starting point as well as offering pathways that are meaningful for their musical future
  • aligned to IB’s philosophy of developing internationally-minded learners who, through personal and collaborative inquiry and action, make meaningful connections between classroom experiences and personal contexts.

Course details

The course framework includes Areas of Inquiry, Contexts, Roles and Processes that inform the selection of musical content and ensure practical engagement with a broad range of diverse materials and experiences.

This framework helps students to explore personal, local and global contexts as well as to personalize unique approaches to different musical forms, genres, techniques and concepts.

Throughout this revised course, students embody important and authentic roles including researcher, creator and performer. In these roles, students participate in authentic musical processes including exploring, experimenting and presenting.

The course empowers teachers and students to connect technical training and creative competencies in order to develop well-rounded modern musicians. The course achieves this through scaffolded and guided approaches to:

  • deep listening skills
  • performance proficiency
  • compositional craft
  • the ability to discuss music critically
  • the ability to justify creative choices, and
  • the capacity for entrepreneurship in the musical world.

Assessment details

The course framework is purposefully aligned to assessment components and tasks each with a specific focus as outlined:

  • Exploring music in context in which students undertake inquiry into a diverse range of musical content and materials to demonstrate understanding through written as well as practical evidence
  • Experimenting with music in which students to engage with music on a deeper level as they work on practical material in creating and presenting which is rooted in ongoing research
  • Presenting music in which students develop and refine work in the three musical roles of researcher, creator and performer
  • The contemporary music maker (HL only) in which students extend learning in the other components as they engage in an independent and collaborative project rooted in real-life music practices.


The revised DP music course is an innovative course designed with a flexible framework to support the teaching and learning of music in the diverse and multifaceted IB music classrooms around the globe.

The course embraces learners from all backgrounds and experiences as it aims to widen their knowledge and skills and stretch them to achieve new levels of musical and technical accomplishments.

This new flexibility is not only about choice in the learning, teaching and assessment – it is also about forging deep, life-long connections between students’ passions and interests and the wider world of music and music-making.

More information

To find out more about these curriculum changes, download our Music subject brief (PDF, 624 KB) and read the community blog post.