Music 7–10 (2024) Syllabus – information for school leaders

The Music 7–10 (2024) Syllabus replaces the content in the Music 7–10 Syllabus (2003). Planning and preparation will commence from 2024 with implementation in 2026.

The NSW Music 7–10 (2024) Syllabus recognises the critical importance of personal and cultural expression in a global context where students can engage, inspire, enrich and transform their lives through their experiences with music. Students engage with the elements of music through performing, listening and composing across a range of repertoire to become thoughtful and creative musicians.

What you need to know

  • The Music 7–10 Syllabus (2024) will be taught in NSW high schools from 2026.
  • The syllabus is a live document and is available via a digital platform on the NESA website. Teacher advice and support materials will continue to be added throughout the implementation process.
  • The NSW Department of Education will be providing support materials to schools to assist and guide the implementation process.
  • The core components of performing, listening and composing have been retained as the syllabus focus areas.

Changes to the syllabus

The Music 7–10 Syllabus (2024):

  • has been streamlined through a reduction in outcomes and content
  • divides content into 3 groups – ‘music in practice’, ‘music in context’ and ‘elements of music’, where the elements of music are embedded into practice and context
  • refers to what used to be known as the ‘learning experiences’ as ‘focus areas’
  • refers to what used to be the ‘concepts of music’ as the ‘elements of music’
  • has replaced the element ‘tone colour’ with ‘performing media and timbre’ and ‘dynamics and expressive techniques’ with ‘dynamics and expression’
  • lists repertoire requirements that engage students with a range of music that reflects significance across a variety of contexts. The repertoire requirements are mandatory in both Stage 4 and Stage 5
  • introduces a ‘depth study’ in Stage 5 where students may choose to specialise in one or more focus areas
  • includes explicit reference to safe practices
  • features explicit content points and advice related to working with Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander content.
Image: The organisation of the outcomes and content for 7–10 music. © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2024

Prior to implementing the Music 7–10 Syllabus (2024), leaders will need to consider:

  • the complexities for staff working across 2 syllabuses to teach music 7–10 and the added complication of a staggered implementation structure (Syllabus differences include structure, language, outcomes and content)
  • implications of multiple syllabus release dates across the subjects within creative arts and implementation structures staggered across multiple cohorts and subjects
  • building teacher understanding about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content when designing and delivering music learning activities and assessment
  • developing school processes and systems for effective task design and valid assessment of reduced outcomes (3 outcomes in Stage 4, 6 outcomes in Stage 5 and 8 outcomes for Stages 4 and 5 Life Skills)
  • supporting teachers’ understanding of the principles of inclusive education, adjustments and access to the music curriculum for all learners
  • building teacher understanding of how subject-specific writing is defined in music, including notating and documenting music and musical literacies when performing, composing, analysing and appreciating music to communicate musical ideas and expression
  • resource and budget implications including
    • providing time for staff to engage with syllabus expectations and build their skills and understanding to effectively teach and plan for syllabus requirements across 7–10 to implement in 2026
    • determining what resources are currently available to address new course requirements
    • resources which enable students to engage in new syllabus content, such as Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), music notation software and musical instruments
    • equipment that enhances learning and supports all students to access the curriculum, such as screen readers, sensory scores and other inclusive learning tools
    • building teacher skills and understanding to effectively teach and plan for syllabus requirements.

The syllabus for Music 7–10 is based on evidence summarised in the bibliography published by NESA. The evidence highlights that:

  • music forms its purpose and shape in particular cultural contexts, and contains universal or contextual concepts and an epistemic structure
  • understanding of sound sources, structures, procedural elements, expression and cultural awareness provide deeper meaning to the activities of performing, composing, listening
  • the study of music should include consideration of the historical, social and cultural elements that have contributed to its creation over time
  • music curriculums should be flexible enough to allow for the inclusion of student-driven content and be culturally responsive to local contexts
  • aesthetics must be considered as music education grows more culturally diverse, technologically complex and transdisciplinary. Music education is viewed not only as a place of learning but as a place of wellbeing, refuge, restoration, humanity, social justice and social connection
  • the classroom is an environment in which students can sense the depth and vitality of Australian Indigenous music
  • technology is integral to music–making, assisting its creation, production, expression, dissemination, promotion and consumption.

Music 7–10 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2024.

Knowledge of the syllabus and professional learning needs

  • To what extent do staff understand the syllabus and the evidence underpinning the new syllabus?
  • How will the new syllabus affect classroom practice? What is in place to support and evaluate this practice?
  • What school practices and systems are in place to support teacher professional learning?
  • How are these evaluated to maximise support for teachers?

Collaborative planning and development

  • Which communities of practice does the school collaborate with to enhance teacher curriculum knowledge and pedagogy?
  • Do staff have the skills and understanding to collaboratively undertake syllabus implementation?
  • What explicit systems are in place to foster collaboration?

Resourcing and support

  • What structures are in place for tailored professional support for all staff to strengthen curriculum implementation? What else might be required for this syllabus?
  • What resources are required to commence syllabus implementation and meet planning, programming, assessing, and reporting requirements?

Ongoing evaluation and refinement

How is the new syllabus being used to lift teaching practice?

Further support

Contact the Creative arts curriculum team:


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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