The Summer Bucket List for IB Music Teachers

Congratulations, you made it through a year of IB Music! Summer is finally here as you cruise through your summer bucket list. What’s next? After putting your feet up in your favorite chair, you may want to reflect; even reflect about reflecting. Reflect on your reflections from the year. Reflect on your students, your attitude, your preparation, the success of your teaching and what went well; what could have been better.   Your reflections may lead you to consider big picture planning such as revising your materials. We know that accomplishing some amount of summer work balanced with leisure makes the school year flow better.  How do you “get the most bang for your buck?”


Spending time rethinking which genres you will use and how you will teach them is central to the success of the course. What pieces will you focus on from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic and Contemporary eras? World music? Rock, jazz and blues? The amount of material to cover for the IB Music course is intimidating to even the most successful high school student.   Make a decision on which eras you will cover in-depth and which you will touch upon.   Rather than skimming through much music on a surface level, choose representative pieces from the genres that really speak to the students. Your selection of pieces is critical to getting your students involved in the course. When all of the analyzing and context research is finished, it is the MUSIC that speaks to the students. Search for great pieces that allow students to hear great music making but also provide venues for the analysis aspect of the course as well as the context.

Summer time planning can include preparing student analysis sheets for your above chosen representative pieces. As the course progresses, scaffold the analysis skills required. Perhaps the beginning of the year includes a detailed checklist of characteristics of the elements of music. For example, melody guidewords could include range, shape, movement or harmony could be consonant or dissonant, major or minor, etc. These guides are necessary as they learn the vocabulary and begin to listen, identify and describe the elements heard in the music. As the students’ listening skills develop, the instructor gradually removes the guidewords, leaving only the names of the elements. This requires students to learn the vocabulary required for each musical element and incorporate these characteristics into an analysis. Towards the end of the year, remove all the guidewords, even the words harmony and melody in our example, as students are stretched to complete a comprehensive analysis. As you plan your curriculum, incorporate the scaffolding the analysis.

Finally, don’t forget to order the new prescribed works scores. The scores for the next THREE years are Brandenburg Concerto #2 by Johann Sebastian Bach and Dances of Galanta by Zoltan Kodaly.   Scores for the Bach are available online at the IMSLP Petrucci Library. Put these works in your listening library and if possible, begin marking scores.

What’s on your summer bucket list? Whatever it is, use it to be good to yourself and remember to listen to great music. It may end up as one of your chosen pieces for IB music this year.