[Note: page not yet updated for 2017–18 Nat 5 assessment changes]
Performing Skills means what it says… basically learning to play/sing on two instruments (or one instrument and voice) and using the skills acquired to perform (in front of other people, video camera etc.) on them. So let’s look at the required outcomes for this Unit at the various levels then explain what this means to you…
The learner will:
1 Perform music in a range of music styles by:
(At National 4, from Music: Performing Skills (National 4) Unit Specification)
1.1 Developing musical and technical skills, showing an understanding of the composers’ intentions
1.2 Identifying strengths and areas for improvement in their performing
(At National 5, from Music: Performing Skills (National 5) Unit Specification)
1.1 Developing musical and technical skills, showing clear understanding of the composers’ intentions
1.2 Self-reflecting on the quality and accuracy of their playing and performing, and identifying personal strengths and areas for improvement
(At Higher, from Music: Performing Skills (Higher) Unit Specification)
1.1 Developing a range of musical, interpretive and technical skills, showing clear understanding of the composers’ intentions
1.2 Critically self-reflecting and evaluating the quality and accuracy of their performing and refining their performing skills
(At Advanced Higher, from Advanced Higher Music: Performing Skills Unit Specification)
1.1 Developing a range of advanced musical, interpretive and technical skills, showing clear understanding and sensitivity to the composers’ intentions.
1.2 Critically self-reflecting and evaluating the quality and accuracy of their performing and refining their performing and technical skills.
So the ‘performing’ part’s pretty obvious… you have to perform, and with greater musical accomplishment as well as more technical difficulty as you move up the levels. But you also have to demonstrate that you can evaluate your own performance with similarly increasing awareness and record your thoughts there somehow. Your performances are assessed as pass or fail by the teacher, but your reflections on at least some of them are also required for the unit pass. The SQA makes it quite clear that these should relate to technical and musical features and not your experiences, while also stressing that you’re required to reflect once on each performing study (instrument or voice) and suggesting that it’s good practice to do so for all of your performances.
[More guidance on what you need to say for the different levels to follow here?]
While minimum technical standards remain unchanged from the previous generation of Music courses (so ABRSM Grade 2 or equivalent for Nat 4, Grade 3 for Nat 5, Grade 4 for Higher and Grade 5 for Advanced Higher), you can now perform ‘sections of music’ rather than complete pieces for ongoing classroom assessment. But you’ll need at least two of these on each performing study (instrument or voice) and still have to play/sing the whole pieces for your Performing exam or Nat 4 added value unit, where the old ‘sampling’ method has gone and you’ll now be performing everything you’ve prepared.