Unpacking the Music Curriculum at Dulwich College Suzhou

Dulwich Music Festival at the Yinshan Lake Grand Theatre was finished last weekend with a huge success, and it is an excellent testimony of our music education. We are proud of the music journey for our students at DCSZ. Music holds a special place at the core of Dulwich College Suzhou. From the first song in Nursery to an IB recital by a Year 13 student, music remains a constant companion throughout our students' educational journey.

The musical journey at DCSZ begins with DUCKS. Regardless of whether children choose to pursue a future in music, the process of musical learning not only cultivates their musical abilities, such as playing instruments or acquiring music knowledge, but also develops their soft skills, including remaining calm and confident when performing on stage, mastering time management to balance music and academics, and demonstrating perseverance and determination while learning music.


Music Learning Journey at DCSZ


We provide a rich and diverse music experience to cultivate children's appreciation and love for music. Our curriculum focuses on introducing basic music concepts, singing and rhythm exercises, and playing instruments (including percussion instruments, recorders, etc.). Regardless of which grade level at DUCKS, children can discover their passion for music.

Here is our DUCKS music learning guideline:

  • Introduction to Basic Musical Concepts 
  • Singing and Vocal Exploration  
  • Introduction to Instruments 
  • Body Movement and Dance  
  • Cultural Inclusivity 
  • Listening and Responding 
  • Basic Music Notation  
  • Creative Expression 
  • Storytelling through Music 
  • Introduction to Ensembles 
  • Performance Opportunities 

Junior School

We allow every student to learn an instrument – it is a compulsory part of the curriculum. We treat every student equally and regard everyone as a potential untapped gem.

In Junior School, students have two lessons of music each week. One lesson is an instrumental lesson (starting from Year 4) and the other one is a general music lesson.

In Year 3, students primarily focus on drama classes, which provide them with opportunities to develop their performance skills across different subjects and broaden their learning experiences.


Starting from Year 4, students have the opportunity to learn musical instruments. In Year 4 and Year 5, the focus is on string instruments, including the violin, viola, and cello, allowing students to choose their preferred instrument. In Year 6, students will begin learning woodwind or brass instruments, which continues throughout Year 7.


In general music lessons, students explore concepts related to music literacy, music history/appreciation, and music technology. They learn to use their singing voices effectively and play a variety of classroom instruments such as ukulele, xylophone, and percussion instruments.

In Junior School we want students to have many opportunities to explore, experiment, and work creatively in their music lessons. At this stage it is important that students begin to develop confidence as performers, learn to express themselves, and of course, have fun!


Senior School

For students from Year 7 to Year 9, based upon the foundation laid in DUCKS and Junior school, the curriculum primarily focuses on fostering students' music knowledge and skills in various areas such as music literacy, performance, composition, ensemble techniques, and music theory.


At IGCSE music (From Year 10 to Year 11), the curriculum is more focused and in-depth. Students need to have a certain level of instrument skills since there is a solo performance at this stage. The main focus in IGCSE music will be performance, composition and music theory. They have to write two pieces of music as part of the composition component. Students’ music theory and listening skills are also developed and assessed in the form of an exam paper at the end of the course.


For IB music (From Year 12 to Year 13), it is entirely coursework. There are three main focuses: presenting performances and compositions, exploring and researching genres of music and experimenting with music. Students can go in any direction to pursue their interests and passions in music, and the role of teacher is very much a mentor in this process. Not only does the course broaden their knowledge and understanding of music, but it also serves as fantastic preparation for university study generally, thanks to its focus on student autonomy and the development of research skills.

Apart from academic courses,  we also deliver different music CCAs including orchestra, Taiko and so on. In a normal season, we organize a variety of music performances on campus and also external performance opportunities. Hence our students always have chances to shine on stage and showcase their musical talents. We aim to mentor and guide our most talented musicians. We also have an excellent track record of students attaining places at the most prestigious universities such as Royal College of Music, Berklee College of Music and Guildhall.


There is always a stage for your children to shine and be recognized in the world. DCSZ is a place that enables your children to realize their potential and supports them in becoming Live Worldwise individuals.