National Standards for Music Education

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National Standards for Music

As part of the Goals 2000: Educate America legislation, National Standards for the Arts have been published for the four fine arts - dance, music, theater, and visual arts. These standards specify what students should know and be able to do by graduation from high school in each of the four arts with a specialization in one of them.

Content Standard 1: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

Grades K-4

  • sing independently, on pitch and in rhythm, with appropriate timbre, diction, and posture, and maintain a steady tempo


  • sing expressively, with appropriate dynamics, phrasing, and interpretation


  • sing from memory a varied repertoire of songs representing genres and styles from diverse cultures


  • sing ostinatos, partner songs, and rounds


  • sing in groups, blending vocal timbres, matching dynamic levels, and responding to the cues of a conductor
Grades 5-8
  • sing accurately and with good breath control throughout their singing ranges, alone and in small and large ensembles


  • sing with expression and technical accuracy a repertoire of vocal literature with a level of difficulty of 2, on a scale of 1 to 6, including some songs performed from memory


  • sing music representing diverse genres and cultures, with expression appropriate for the work being performed


  • sing music written in two and three parts
Choral Performance - 5-8
  • sing with expression and technical accuracy a varied repertoire of vocal literature with a level of difficulty of 3, on a scale of 1 to 6, including some songs from memory
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • sing with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of vocal literature with a level of difficulty of 4, on a scale of 1 to 6, including some songs performed from memory


  • sing music written in four parts, with and without accompaniment


  • demonstrate well-developed ensemble skills
Advanced
  • sing with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of vocal literature with a level of difficulty of 5, on a scale of 1 to 6


  • sing music written in more than four parts


  • sing in small ensembles with one student on a part
Content Standard 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

Grades K-4

  • perform on pitch, in rhythm, with appropriate dynamics and timbre, and maintain a steady tempo


  • perform easy rhythmic, melodic, and chordal patterns accurately and independently on rhythmic, melodic and harmonic classroom instruments


  • perform expressively a varied repertoire of music representing diverse genres and styles


  • echo short rhythms and melodic patterns


  • perform in groups, blending instrumental timbres, matching dynamic levels, and responding to the cues of a conductor


  • perform independent instrumental parts while other students sing or play contrasting parts
Grades 5-8
  • perform on at least one instrument accurately and independently, alone and in small and large ensembles, with good posture, playing position, and good breath, bow or stick control


  • perform with expression and technical accuracy on at least one string, wind, percussion, or classroom instrument a repertoire of instrumental literature with a level of difficulty of 2, on a scale of 1 to 6


  • perform music representing diverse genres and cultures, with expression appropriate for the work being performed


  • play by ear simple melodies on a melodic instrument and simple accompaniments on a harmonic instrument


  • perform with expression and technical accuracy a varied repertoire of instrumental literature with a level of difficulty of 3, on a scale of 1 to 6, including some solos performed from memory
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • perform with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of instrumental literature with a level of difficulty of 4, on a scale of 1 to 6


  • perform an appropriate part in an ensemble, demonstrating well-developed ensemble skills


  • perform in small ensembles with one student on a part
Advanced
  • perform with expression and technical accuracy a large and varied repertoire of instrumental literature with a level of difficulty of 5, on a scale of 1 to 6


Content Standard 3: Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments

Grades K-4

  • improvise "answers" in the same style to given rhythmic and melodic phrases


  • improvise simple rhythmic and melodic ostinato accompaniments


  • improvise simple rhythmic variations and simple melodic embellishments on familiar melodies


  • improvise short songs and instrumental pieces, using a variety of sound sources, including traditional sounds, nontraditional sounds available in the classroom, body sounds, and sounds produced by electronic means
Grades 5-8
  • improvise simple harmonic accompaniments


  • improvise melodic embellishments and simple rhythmic and melodic variations on given pentatonic melodies and melodies in major keys


  • improvise short melodies, unaccompanied and over given rhythmic accompaniments, each in a consistent style, meter and tonality
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • improvise stylistically appropriate harmonizing parts


  • improvise rhythmic and melodic variations on given pentatonic melodies and melodies in major and minor keys


  • improvise original melodies over given chord progressions, each in a consistent style, meter, and tonality
Advanced
  • improvise stylistically appropriate harmonizing parts in a variety of styles


  • improvise original melodies in a variety of styles, over given chord progressions, each in a consistent style, meter, and tonality
Content Standard 4: Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines

Grades K-4

  • create and arrange music to accompany readings or dramatizations


  • create and arrange short songs and instrumental pieces within specified guidelines


  • use a variety of sound sources when composing
Grades 5-8
  • compose short pieces within specified guidelines, demonstrating how the elements of music are used to achieve unity and variety, tension and release, and balance


  • arrange simple pieces for voices or instruments other than those for which the pieces were written


  • use a variety of traditional and nontraditional sound sources and electronic media when composing and arranging
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • compose music in several distinct styles, demonstrating creativity in using the elements of music for expressive effect


  • arrange pieces for voices or instruments other than those for which the pieces were written in ways that preserve or enhance the expressive effect of the music


  • compose and arrange music for voices and various acoustic and electronic instruments, demonstrating knowledge of the ranges and traditional usages of the sound sources
Advanced
  • compose music, demonstrating imagination and technical skill in applying the principals of composition
Content Standard 5: Reading and notating music

Grades K-4

  • read whole, half, dotted half, quarter, and eighth notes and rests in 2/4, * and 4/4 meter signatures


  • use a system (that is, syllables, numbers or letters) to read simple pitch notation in the treble clef in major keys


  • identify symbols and traditional terms referring to dynamics, tempo, and articulation and interpret them correctly when performing


  • use standard symbols to notate meter, rhythm, pitch and dynamics in simple patterns presented by the teacher
Grades 5-8
  • read whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth and dotted notes and rests in 2/4, *, 4/4, 6/8, 3/8 and alla breve meter signatures


  • read at sight simple melodies in both the treble and bass clefs


  • identify and define standard notation symbols for pitch, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, articulation, and expression


  • use standard notation to record their musical ideas and the musical ideas of others


  • (for choral/instrumental ensemble/class) sight-read accurately and expressively, music with a level of difficulty of 2, on a scale of 1 to 6
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • demonstrate the ability to read an instrumental or vocal score of up to four staves by describing how the elements of music are used


  • (for choral/instrumental ensemble/class) sight-read accurately and expressively, music with a level of difficulty of 3, on a scale of 1 to 6
Advanced
  • demonstrate the ability to read a full instrumental or vocal score by describing how the elements of music are used and explaining all transpositions and clefs


  • interpret nonstandard notation symbols used by twentieth-century composers


  • (for choral/instrumental ensemble/class) sight-read accurately and expressively, music with a level of difficulty of 4, on a scale of 1 to 6
Content Standard 6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music

Grades K-4

  • identify simple music forms when presented aurally


  • demonstrate perceptual skills by moving, by answering questions about, and by describing aural examples of music of various styles representing diverse cultures


  • use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances


  • identify the sounds of a variety of instruments, including many orchestra and band instruments, and instruments from various cultures, as well as children's voices and male and female adult voices


  • respond through purposeful movement to selected prominent music characteristics or to specific music events while listening to music
Grades 5-8
  • describe specific music events in a given aural example, using appropriate terminology


  • analyze the uses of elements of music in aural examples representing diverse genres and cultures


  • demonstrate knowledge of the basic principals of meter, rhythm, tonality, intervals, chords, and harmonic progressions in their analyses of music
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • analyze aural examples of a varied repertoire of music, representing diverse genres and cultures, by describing the uses of elements of music and expressive devices


  • demonstrate extensive knowledge of the technical vocabulary of music


  • identify and explain compositional devices and techniques used to provide unity and variety and tension and release in a musical work and give examples of other works that make similar uses of these devices and techniques
Advanced
  • demonstrate the ability to perceive and remember music events by describing in detail significant events occurring in a given aural example


  • compare ways in which musical materials are used in a given example relative to ways in which they are used in other works of the same genre or style


  • analyze and describe uses of the elements of music in a given work that make it unique, interesting, and expressive
Content Standard 7: Evaluating music and music performances

Grades K-4

  • devise criteria for evaluating performances and compositions


  • explain, using appropriate music terminology, their personal preferences for specific musical works and styles
Grades 5-8
  • develop criteria for evaluating the quality and effectiveness of music performances and compositions and apply the criteria in their own personal listening and performing


  • evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their own and others' performances, compositions, arrangements, and improvisations by applying specific criteria appropriate for the style of the music and offer constructive suggestions for improvement
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • evolve specific criteria for making informed, critical evaluations of the quality and effectiveness of performances, compositions, arrangements, and improvisations and apply the criteria in their personal participation in music


  • evaluate a performance, composition, arrangement, or improvisation by comparing it to similar or exemplary models
Advanced
  • evaluate a given musical work in terms of its aesthetic qualities and explain the musical means it uses to evoke feelings and emotions
Content Standard 8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts

Grades K-4

  • identify similarities and differences in the meanings of common terms used in the various arts


  • identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with those of music
Grades 5-8
  • compare in two or more arts how the characteristic materials of each art (that is, sound in music, visual stimuli in visual arts, movement in dance, human interrelationships in theater) can be used to transform similar events, scenes, emotions or ideas into works of art


  • describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in school are interrelated with those of music
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • explain how elements, artistic processes (such as imagination or craftsmanship) and organizational principals (such as unity and variety or repetition and contrast) are used in similar and distinctive ways in the various arts and cite examples


  • compare characteristics of two or more arts within a particular historical period or style and cite examples from various cultures


  • explain ways in which the principles and subject matter of various disciplines outside the arts are interrelated with those of music
Advanced
  • compare the uses of characteristic elements, artistic processes, and organizational principles among the arts in different historical periods and different cultures


  • explain how the roles of creators, performers, and others involved in the production and presentation of the arts are similar to and different from one another in the various arts
Content Standard 9: Understanding music in relation to history and culture

Grades K-4

  • identify by genre or style aural examples of music from various historical periods and cultures


  • describe in simple terms how elements of music are used in music examples from various cultures of the world


  • identify various uses of music in their daily experiences and describe characteristics that make certain music suitable for each use


  • identify and describe roles of musicians in various music settings and cultures


  • demonstrate audience behavior appropriate for the context and style of music performed
Grades 5-8
  • describe distinguishing characteristics of representative music genres and styles from a variety of cultures


  • classify by genre and style (and, if applicable, by historical period, composer, and title) a varied body of exemplary (that is, high-quality and characteristic) musical works and explain the characteristics that cause each work to be considered exemplary


  • compare, in several cultures of the world, functions music serves, roles of musicians, and conditions under which music is typically performed
Grades 9-12

Proficient

  • classify by genre or style and by historical period or culture unfamiliar but representative aural examples of music and explain the reasoning behind their classifications


  • identify sources of American music genres, trace the evolution of those genres, and cite well-known musicians associated with them


  • identify various roles that musicians perform, cite representative individuals who have functioned in each role, and describe their activities and achievements
Advanced
  • identify and explain the stylistic features of a given musical work that serve to define its aesthetic tradition and its historical or cultural context


  • identify and describe music genres or styles that show the influence of two or more cultural traditions, identify the cultural source of each influence, and trace the historical conditions that produced the synthesis of influences



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