New Zealand Scholarship Music

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Music assessment specification

Performance standard

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Assessment reports

Examination timetable and submission dates

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Music assessment specification

Scholarship Performance Standard (93305) Music
Method of assessment Portfolio submission
For year 2023

Format of the assessment

Candidates will submit a portfolio of work, including a critical reflective analysis.

The portfolio must contain evidence of the candidate’s work as either a performer, a composer, or a musicologist. A portfolio is an organised collection of evidence that clearly communicates the candidate’s knowledge, understanding, and skills relevant to the Scholarship Music Performance Standard in their chosen discipline.

The performance, composition, or musicology portfolio must include a written critical reflective analysis that meets the following conditions:

  • Length: no longer than 3000 words.
  • Originality: the sources of ideas other than the candidate’s own must be acknowledged.
  • Sources: primary and secondary sources, including references to scores, must be acknowledged using formal referencing conventions.
  • Presentation: appropriate conventions for clear presentation of text should be followed, e.g. headings and subheadings, paragraphs, work titles in italics – for reference, see Trevor Herbert, Music in Words: A Guide to Researching and Writing about Music (London: ABRSM Publishing, 2001).
  • Document format: numbered A4 pages.

The Performance portfolio

This must include:

(a) A video recording of up to 15 minutes of the candidate performing music from one or two of the following options:

  • their performance as a featured soloist of a significant work or programme of works
  • group performance
  • performance on a second instrument.

If available, a copy of the score of the works performed should be supplied with the recording.

The performance must:

  • be a continuous and unedited recording made at a particular performance event
  • be no more than 15 minutes in duration (including pauses between items)
  • take place in front of an audience
  • be recorded by a stationary camera, and the sound recording should be of the highest-possible fidelity.

Note: The maximum duration of the performance is set at 15 minutes, as this is considered to be sufficient time for a candidate to demonstrate their fulfilment of the requirements for Scholarship. A performance that exceeds this time limit by a few seconds will not be penalised, but the marker will not watch the remainder of a performance that significantly exceeds this time.

(b) A critical reflective analysis of the work(s) that may involve, but is not limited to, discussion of:

  • choice of repertoire
  • programming decisions
  • how characteristics of the music were considered in preparing the performance (e.g. rhythmic features, tonality, tempo, dynamics)
  • how stylistic features of the music were considered in preparing the performance (e.g. ornamentation in Baroque music, technological effects in rock, improvisation in jazz, cultural practices)
  • how technical issues were considered in preparing the performance (e.g. bowing, picking, fingering, breathing, stance, diction, language, articulation)
  • how musicianship issues were considered in preparing the performance (e.g. balance and voice-leading).

The Composition portfolio

This must include:

(a) The score and audio recording of a significant work or a selection of shorter works composed by the candidate.

The recording:

  • may comprise any combination of live performance or computer realisation of the work(s) (i.e. inclusion of a live performance is not mandatory)
  • must be no more than 15 minutes in duration
  • may include one arrangement or re-composition (not more than 5 minutes in duration).

(b) A critical reflective analysis of the work(s) that may involve, but is not limited to, discussion of:

  • choice of instrumentation
  • choice of texts
  • how musical ideas were developed and structured
  • issues related to notation
  • how technical demands of realisation of the music in performance music were considered (e.g. bowing, fingering, breathing, language, articulation, conducting a performance)
  • how stylistic features were considered
  • how the work is representative of the developing skills, style, and/or philosophy of the composer.

The Musicology portfolio

This must include:

(a) A comprehensive study, along with an annotated score, of a substantial musical work. This may be in the form of an essay of no longer than 3000 words, or a video seminar (no longer than 15 minutes in duration), and must include:

  • an examination of FIVE musical elements deemed by the candidate to be most significant
  • a critical discussion outlining the musical contribution of each element in relation to the success and/or effectiveness of the work.

(b) A critical reflective analysis of the work, which may involve, but is not limited to, discussion of:

  • the extent to which the musical elements are typical of the period in which the work was written
  • the place of the work in the composer’s output
  • the place of the work in the development of the genre
  • implications of this work on future composers and their compositions
  • a personal reflection on the work.

Further guidelines for teachers


The 3 aspects of the Scholarship Music Performance Standard that are assessed for Scholarship are:

  • the application of knowledge and skills
  • the critical reflective analysis
  • communication.

These all have equal weighting and evidence may be drawn from any part of the portfolio.

Submission instructions and authenticity requirements

Please refer to the Digital External Assessment Submission Instructions for NZ Scholarship Music (PDF, 394KB) for more information.

Schools are required to complete the NZ Scholarship Authenticity Declaration (DOCX, 50KB) for each candidate.

Music resources

Performance standard

2022 assessment schedule (PDF, 63KB)


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