A Centennial Declaration of MENC: The National Association for Music Education

(Adopted June 2007) 

We are in agreement that the basic ideals long expressed by the music education profession and other education professionals are still current: It is the right of every child to receive a balanced, comprehensive, sequential music education taught by qualified music teachers. 

A healthy society requires musically fulfilled people. The primary purpose of education is not to create a workforce; it is to improve the quality of life for individuals and for society. Although music education has been valued throughout history for its unique contributions, it is not yet universal in American schools. Serious problems persist, including inequality of access, uneven quality of programs, and insufficient valuing of music as a part of the curriculum. As a result, music is often pushed to the periphery of the school experience. In this centennial year of 2007, we reaffirm our longstanding ideals in a challenging context that calls for directed action in curriculum, assessment, research, teacher education, advocacy, and building alliances. 


Needs Regarding Curriculum

Our curriculum must reflect more than our own desires; it must reflect the needs and desires of the students we serve. We seek contexts and modes of instruction that will provide students with more inclusive experiences of the styles and genres of music and the many musical roles that are practiced in our society and that are represented in the national content standards. We need to develop programs that are flexible and of greater variety than those currently in use in most schools. This will require efforts including identifying and promulgating effective models, rethinking teacher education, expanding inservice development opportunities, and developing new assessment techniques. These initiatives necessitate an expansion of our research interests and a greater application of research results in teacher education programs and in classrooms. We need to develop deeper insight into the role of music in general education, focusing on what is distinctive about music and on its complementary relationship to other subjects. We need electives as broad and diverse as the interests and enthusiasms of our students.


Needs Regarding Assessment

We need assessment techniques and strategies that are suited to the domain of music in all its complexity and diversity. We need to focus our energies on the development of multiple assessment strategies that reflect the dimensions of students’ musical growth and draw upon a broad range of instructional methodologies and techniques. We need assessment criteria that go beyond attendance, effort, and attitude. We need formative assessments of students’ learning—including portfolios and other techniques, and we need program evaluations based on the Opportunity to Learn Standards.


Needs Regarding Advocacy

We need to arrive at ways to transmit a uniform message to decision makers and to the public. We need strong alliances with those who share or understand the value of music study and are willing to join with us in advocating for strong, vibrant music programs. We need to make advocacy efforts that clarify and celebrate the enhanced opportunities to learn that we are striving to make available.


Toward the Future

We will build on our first hundred years of success with a second century of leadership and service. Our musical culture, our students, and our society deserve no less.