National Moderator's Reports

February 2023

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Download PDF: Music National Moderator's Report 2023 (PDF, 165KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internally assessed 91416, 91418, 91425 and 91849 standards in 2022. It also provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year and outlines the Assessor Support available for Music.



91416: Perform two programmes of music as a featured soloist

The solo performance standard requires students to complete two programmes of music. These should consist of two pieces played consecutively per programme, i.e. four pieces in total for the year.

Moderation submissions demonstrate clear assessor knowledge of assessment requirements for the standard, with overall high levels of student attainment. Many soloists are performing at commendable levels in an impressive range of performance situations and across many musical genres.

Most soloists are vocalists and/or pianists, with generally equal but smaller numbers of rock and orchestral instruments represented.

91418: Demonstrate ensemble skills by performing two substantial pieces of music as a member of a group

To achieve the standard, students need to present their two pieces of music in a “single group setting”. This aspect of the standard enables performers to create an uninterrupted musical programme where their ensemble skills can fully contribute to the overall synergy of the group. It also requires stamina and intense focus to complete two substantial pieces of music within a group setting at curriculum Level 8.

It is important that students, itinerant teachers of music, and the classroom teacher discuss early in the academic year which music group will allow individual performers to demonstrate their musical skills optimally. The setting is also important, as there must be time allowance for the two pieces to be played consecutively and for the performer to be clearly heard and seen.

Extracurricular settings like SFRQ finals or Te Matatini are appropriate if the recording of the performer/s is both visually and aurally clear. In any setting, the group will have a maximum of seven members.

91425: Research a music topic

To achieve the standard, students need to process evidence from a range of sources to present their own valid conclusions. A range of sources is typically between 8-10 internet sites, which could include interviews and/or musical recordings.

The research process is clearly laid out in Explanatory Note 3 of the standard, including the need to record sources of evidence. A bibliography, referencing and quote citations must be included with all research submissions.

Surveys have been seen more in recent moderation, together with statistical analysis on topics such as the musical listening habits of teenagers. These can assist students in demonstrating a ‘range’ of sources. However, they should only be used if they add significantly to the research topic.

Moderation submissions securing Merit and/or Excellence criteria demonstrate a clearly defined area of research together with research question(s) which narrow the focus of the investigation. This allows for critical thinking and detailed conclusions. An example of an area of research could be “The effects of listening to music while studying”, and the research questions might include:

  1. What are the positive and negative effects of listening to music when studying?
  2. How does listening to music with or without lyrics make a difference when studying?
  3. What would be an effective music playlist for studying? Why?

Research presentations continue to be largely in written form, the majority of which are essays. Essay lengths are generally between 1500-2000 words, which is appropriate for students to present detailed findings and perceptive conclusions.

91849: Compose three original songs that express imaginative thinking

The song writing standard has attracted more students than 91419 (composition) for the first time in 2022. Students are generally expressing their imaginative thinking in their song writing with skill and character.

All submissions must include lyrics, chord-chart, and a recording for each song. With digital submissions, in particular, it is advisable to check that all these requirements are included for each student.

Assessor Support


NZQA’s learning management system (Pūtake) offers 150+ easy to access courses, materials and products. These are designed to support teachers as assessors to improve their assessment of NCEA standards.

Online, subject-specific, bite-sized learning modules and short courses are now available to complement the traditional face-to-face workshops that NZQA offers. These online courses can be accessed using your Education Sector Logon. Courses available for Music include:

  • 91278 Investigate an aspect of New Zealand Music – recently updated
  • Group Work in the Arts

Online Making Assessor Judgements workshops are also available throughout the year. These workshops are structured to guide teachers to improve their understanding of each grade level by examining several full samples of student work. The following standards are available for enrolment in 2023:

  • Making Assessor Judgements: 91270, 91849, 91425

Feedback from teachers for these workshops indicates that more than 90% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the content in the module was beneficial:

“This would be a really good department exercise to do in a meeting before marking the standard.”

“I found reading and analysing the extracts for evidence against Level 8 in the curriculum very useful.”

The Assessor Practice Tool will be used to provide assessors with support for the new NCEA standards from 2024 onwards. Schools will receive further information about Phase Two of the Assessor Practice Tool in early 2023.

NZQA will continue to offer several non-subject-specific modules and workshops, designed to improve general assessment practice. The following modules and workshops will be available in 2023:

  • Assessment Approaches, an online workshop exploring different methods of assessment
  • Culturally Responsive Assessment
  • Assessment Guidance – Reviewing Your Practice
  • Tāku reo, tāku mahi – My voice, my work, a guide to managing authenticity
  • Why Less is More, a guide to reducing volumes of student evidence

We will also continue to run the Transforming Assessment Praxis programme, an online workshop relevant to all subjects which helps assessors learn about re-contextualising assessment resources and collecting evidence in different ways, in order to better meet the needs of students.

Check the NCEA subject pages on the NZQA website regularly, as more online modules, workshops and courses will be added throughout 2023.

Live and Face-to-face

The Best Practice Workshops (online and face-to-face) offered by Assessment and Moderation continue to be viewed by the sector as significantly contributing to improved assessor practice:

“The workshop helped to review my own knowledge, and great to share ideas."

“It was great having time to challenge my thinking in assessment."

Workshops, webinars or presentation slots can be requested to provide targeted support to local, regional or national audiences. National Moderators are available to present at conferences, local or national hui or via live webinars. These services are available on request and subject to availability.

Contact NZQA

More detailed information, including how to request or register for a workshop or online course, can be found on our Assessor Support pages or by emailing

To give feedback on this report click on this link.

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