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Responding Musically to a Challenging Topic

This year, during our last MYP 5 unit, which is taught in conjunction with History and German, we explored the concept of music and death. The core of unit was the film "Defiant Requiem", (2012, written and directed by Doug Shultz). Some elements were taken from the quite comprehensive material provided by this website here.

Most material was developed to give the students a maximum of choice, while still having some core principals and concepts in common.


As this was the last unit of MYP5 this academic year, I designed it in a way that it would tie in seamlessly into the new DP curriculum.

During my planning, I came up with this brainstorm, which connects some of the concepts in MYP with DP.




With the film at the core, I designed different strands of this unit, allowing a good balance of diverse aspects of the theme.


The main focal point was responding musically (Criterion D) either as performer, creator or researcher. These three roles are the essential in the IBDP music curriculum.



Here are some of the projects that my students developed:

  • Reduce the first few pages score of Verdi's "Sanctus", work out the prominent parts and perform it as a trio - soprano, flute and piano.

  • Create mash up between "dance monkey" and Verdis Sanctus - live performance piano and voice.

  • Sampling of sections of Mozart's requiem and Verdi's requiem, setting to an EDM beat.

  • Researching the role of censorship in music during the Nazi regime.

  • Writing a piano solo piece, inspired by one of the images drawn in Terezin.

  • Setting a poem, written in Terezin, to music.

The outcome was very diverse, accompanied by detailed planning, research and reflections in the process journal. The student feedback was incredibly positive - they even insisted on working on their project on the very last day of school. This is not something I would have expected.