Music exam ‘Star Wars’ theme proves a high note

The final morning of Junior Certificate exams was music to the ears of around 11,000 students taking the subject.

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) music spokesperson Siofra Cox said the higher and ordinary level exams were fair. She thought students would have been entertained by the excerpt of music at the beginning, which was the main title from Star Wars, the same as last year.

The listening section of the paper concentrated on the description of musical features from prescribed songs and works, with the first movement of Vivaldi’s Spring the set work.

Ms Cox said the Irish music question was straightforward, while reasonably challenging students to identify specific features of céilí band performance.

Maillart’s ‘Overture to Les Dragons de Villars’ featured as the previously unheard piece in another question. Students would have found this a stimulating test of their finer listening skills in relation to orchestral music, suggested Ms Cox.

“There were no surprises in the composition section of the paper. The skills-based triad, melody, and chord progression questions should have held no problems for the well-prepared student,” she said.

Ms Cox said students taking the ordinary level paper would have found it a straightforward exam and a fair test of their knowledge.

There were 3,600 students entered for technology exams, which was worth 50% of total marks for the majority who choose higher level. For ordinary level candidates, they will receive up to 40% for the written exam, the remainder going for project work earlier this year.

ASTI’s subject spokesperson Damien Cloney said the opening sets of higher level questions followed the usual lines, with longer design questions based on a toy tractor and a salt-and-pepper stand.

The possibility of students writing about using a computer numerical control machine instead of more traditional approaches to a design modification task reflected the modern direction of the subject, he said, but he was concerned at the use of black-and-white images throughout the exam.

In the section on technology in society, Mr Cloney said tech used in schools and transport were among the topics covered.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) technology spokesperson Gavin Berry was pleased with questions on electronics and mechanics. He thought some of the terminology in the final section might have been difficult, but he felt that the paper was well structured.

At ordinary level, Mr Berry said a good range of topics was covered and well-prepared students should have found it to be well within their capabilities. He thought the ordinary level exam had nice contemporary topics, such as drones and carbon fibre.

While the paper’s move away from the traditional in places might not have pleased some students, he felt requiring them to think about practical — and not just theoretical — work they had done was a good direction to be moving in.


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