• International Music Navigator

TOK and IBDP music

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is, together with the Extended Essay and CAS, at the heart of the diploma course. While it is also taught as a separate course, it also needs to be covered within the music class.


It is always a great pleasure seeing how engaged the students are when they

their opinion on a musical TOK topic.


On page 9 of the new guide (first assessment in 2022), several suggestions for TOK questions are listed. One is this:

When I plan my lesson, I make sure that the TOK link is within the presentation that introduces the new topic.


This question: "To what extent should there be variations in interpretation of a piece of music" can be understood and discussed in a variety of ways:

Here are just a few thoughts: (Thank you to Christoph Genz for the great discussion!)

  • Should a piece sound the same each time you play it? Or not?

  • Variation across time  - listening to some historic performances with different tempi etc. What is the "correct" performance? Is there such a thing?

  • Variation by the performer -  where is the line between interpreting and changing the piece? How much liberty is appreciated, wanted, and accepted in the music society? How far can a performer go in changing certain elements like tempo, dynamics, or phrasing in a piece of music? To what extent does variation in a performance change a piece of music? 

  • How can I still have “my” performance while doing the composer justice?

  • Why bother playing something new if there are so many recordings of the piece already?

  • To what extent should we expect a certain degree of variation when listening to the same piece of music performed by different performers?

  • Is there such a thing as a unique performance? What makes it unique - the performer or does it become unique in the perception of the listener?

  • Will that same unique performance be perceived as unique by other audiences?

  • Fusion and crossover. When is it still “the” piece and when is it something “new”.

I am very much looking forward to discussing this with my students !