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Composition Pedagogy



HKDSE Music Paper 3, Creating, has been one of the core papers in the music examination since 2012. However, in the past, music teacher training in Hong Kong emphasizes the areas of listening and performing only. Therefore, current Hong Kong music teachers have received little training in composing. They do not have confidence in teaching composition for the demanding HKDSE syllabus which requires students to create a composition of 6 to 15 minutes. There are very few teaching and learning resources for musical composition for the senior secondary school level. Teachers find teaching this paper very challenging under this situation.


With the advancement of technology, students have easy access to a tablet or smartphone which enables them to create music. However, music teachers who are trained in an earlier period did not receive training in music technology. They are not able to teach composing with new technology and find it difficult to combine technology and composition in the curriculum. Further, due to the lack of resources in composition pedagogy with mobile computing technology, music teachers have difficulty teaching composition effectively.


On the other hand, the creative process of students is often hindered due to their limited performing skills making it difficult for them to realize their creative idea. Through this all round research project, by applying a theoretic framework, a teaching manual will be produced to provide further resources, teaching guidelines and solution to students. This case study will further validate the pedagogy and make the necessary refinements.

Current Teaching & Learning

1. Teacher's Training

All the participants obtained at least a bachelor degree in music or music education and are able to describe their musical training. One-third of the participant mentioned that the musical training in the 80s-90s was more focus on music appreciation, history, theory, performance and pedagogy. The subject knowledge of music composition, for example, transformative techniques, motivic development, orchestration in inadequate which is not enough for teaching the HKDSE Paper 3: Creating I. On the contrary, the music training after the 90s provided more subject knowledge on music composition and its pedagogy. 

2) The challenges of teaching composition at HKDSE level

All participants addressed the difficulties of teaching composition at HKDSE level. One-third of the participants felt that their students do not have adequate musicianship to realise their creativity from idea to notation. A participant addresses the difficulty of notation especially for Chinese instrument such as Dizi which requires some non-Western symbols. Teachers found it very difficult to guide students throughout the creative process. 

3. Teaching Resources

Nearly all the participants mentioned that resource is one of the main issues which affect the teaching of composition which include very limited lesson time per week. There are inadequate teaching resources of composition at HKDSE level. Most of the composition reference books are too advanced which is not suitable for senior secondary students. Teachers teach composition mainly by past experiences. 

Current Teachng & Learning

Composition Pedagogy




* Visual presentation (i.e. Composition + Performance + Listening)
* GarageBand
* Composition topics
Compositio Pedagogy


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