October Book of the Month: “IB Music Revision Guide”



We are happy to announce Roger Paul‘s first publication as our Book of the Month for October! The “IB Music Revision Guide – Everything you need to prepare for the Music Listening Examination” has been specifically designed for pupils of the IB Music Course and features a variety of learning techniques and helpful practice questions for both Standard and Higher Level. We talked to Roger Paul about writing his first book, from the challenges of the IB music revision course to his interest in progressive metal rock bands…


Q: Could you tell us a little bit about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme music course? Is it one of the most challenging courses of its type?

Roger Paul: The IB music course is a very demanding but rewarding course to teach and study. It contains coursework elements such as performing, creating and a musical links investigation (a comparison of two pieces from different cultures chosen by the student), and an examination which tests the students’ knowledge of the Prescribed Works and Musical Styles.

Q: What type of music do you cover for the music course?

RP: It is very diverse; on the one hand there is the breadth of studying music from many times, places and cultures. This can mean looking at Baroque music, hip-hop, African drumming, the list goes on! On the other hand there is the depth provided by studying the prescribed works (currently Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Xian’s Yellow River Piano Concerto, for 2015-16 they are Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Gershwin’s An American in Paris).

Q: How did you use your time teaching music at St Paul’s Girl’s School to help you write the book?

RP: The Key Stage 3 teaching programme at St Paul’s Girls’ School has proved to be very useful in that it contains practical modules on a variety of styles ranging from Indonesian Gamelan to reggae to opera, so we get to experience the music first hand. For the A level students, it has also been good to try out some of the listening and analysis techniques that cross over between A level and the IB diploma.

Q: What do you think makes your IB Music Revision Guide stand out?

RP: I think the analyses of the Prescribed Works are a stand out feature; there isn’t a lot out there that caters specifically for the IB music programme. Each movement of the music is broken down into elements such as structure, melody, harmony and so on, along with detailed examples and bar numbers so that the reader can locate them in their copy of the score.

Q: What was your most recent musical purchase?

RP: I don’t think many will have heard of them, but I recently bought two albums by the London-based progressive-metal band Haken, Aquarius and The Mountain. I have a very broad taste in music!

Q: What has been the most challenging musical composition you have ever played?

RP: Back in my university days I played drums and percussion on an electronic piece called Urgent Messages. Most of the music was a graphic score timed in minutes and seconds!

Q: Who are your favourite composers?

RP: Too many to choose from! It really depends on what I’m teaching or performing at the time. It can be anyone from Bach to Stravinsky to Hans Zimmer.

Q: Musical icons?Elvis

RP: Not really, but I think John Lennon once said ‘before Elvis there was nothing’…

Q: Which young musicians are exciting you right now?

RP: The musicians I get to work with at St Paul’s; some of the girls join us already at Grade 6-8 level, and they keep on developing. That’s pretty exciting to see.

Roger Paul IB Music Photo

Q: How do you calm your nerves before a performance?

RP: Usually by making sure I’m as prepared as I can be; then I go out and enjoy it!

Q: What are you most proud of achieving in your academic music teaching career?

RP: Enabling my students to achieve their potential. Getting published for the first time has to be up there as well!

You can find out more about the book here