Department of Education

The instrumental music curriculum

Years 3-10

The instrumental music curriculum at primary and lower secondary levels is linked with the WA Curriculum. The Instrumental Music School Services has used this document and the extensive experience of instrumental teachers in WA and abroad in preparing common teaching support material for its teachers that provides an appropriate support structure for instrumental and ensemble music.

Development of knowledge, skills and techniques in instrumental music is generally sequential. The order in which individual techniques are taught is often dictated by the fact that the later techniques build on the earlier ones. However, instrumental music teachers have the discretion to alter these sequences in order to meet the needs of students, particularly after discussion with the classroom music teacher.

Instrumental music teachers take part in consensus activities that aim to ensure consistency of judgement about student progress across the entire system, and report to parents through the student journal, parent interviews, performances, and formally in writing twice a year (see Monitoring, assessing and reporting student progress).

Years 11-12

At upper secondary level, all instrumental music tuition is based on meeting the requirements of courses accredited by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) and students must be enrolled in one of these to receive instrumental lessons.

(See the relevant SCSA documents for more information.)

Teaching Strategies

Like their classroom counterparts, instrumental music teachers are free to decide upon preferred strategies for teaching, responding to the educational needs of their students. Teachers and students are encouraged to use their own familiar resources and employ any new materials that assist with the integration of the classroom music and the instrumental music programs.


Integration is highly desirable and teachers of classroom and instrumental music are encouraged to consult and plan together as closely as possible. Opportunities for communication and consultation need to be actively supported by the school, especially given the short time that instrumental music teachers often have to spend in each school.

Ensemble Participation

In primary school, full participation in an ensemble is an activity additional to the limited ensemble experience of duets, trios, etc which is provided within the group during instrumental class time. As soon as the students are judged able to keep up with the demands of a mixed ensemble such as a string ensemble or a band, without causing undue stress, their instrumental music teacher will arrange for them to participate in such an ensemble.

  • Strings: This will usually be at their base school or at a neighbouring school.
  • Woodwind, brass, percussion and guitar: The ensemble will generally be based at the area high school, although there are a number of primary schools which have their own band scheme negotiated through IMSS.

Primary students across all schools also have access to a number of specially organised workshops which are run by IMSS staff each year. The Instrumental Music School Services is happy to support and cooperate where possible with any school or district-based initiatives to extend the opportunities for primary ensemble experience.

The Instrumental Music Curriculum

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