Meet Members of the National Music Standards Writing Team

Browse through the new National Core Music Standards, and you will  note that the Standards are presented in “strands that represent the principal ways music instruction is delivered in the United States.” 

A heady description indeed, but take note: Elementary and high school music teachers, college professors arts supervisors, and others wrote these voluntary Standards, with help from thousands of others who took an interest in the process.

And they wrote them with a nod to how you can use them in your classroom. Day-to-day. Who makes up the Music Standards Writing Team you might ask?

Here are some of the folks that wrote the Music Standards, via lots of conference calls and face to face meetings over the past three years. Other comments from team members will be posted as they come in: 


Richard Wells: “It Was a Pleasure to Co-Chair the Music Writing Team”


Richard Wells


“It has been my pleasure to co-chair the Music Writing Team with Scott Shuler.  We have worked with a very dedicated group of music educators, who have invested countless hours over the past two years in web-based meetings as well as individual writing and editing. 

” A special thank you to our Music Writing Team – Thomas Dean (DE), Armalyn De La O (CA), Barbara J. Good (NV), Carolynn Lindeman (AZ), Dr. Johanna J. Siebert (NY), Dr. Richard Baker Jr. (LA), Dr. Robyn Swanson (KY), Michael Jothen (MD),  Robert Cooper (WA), and Terry Eder (TX). 

In addition to Writing Team meetings, each of these individuals was responsible for working with a specific subcommittee of 8 to 16 teachers that focused on a specific grade band or strand (PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, Ensembles, Guitar/Harmonizing Instruments, Music Composition/Theory, and Music Technology).  Many members of these subcommittees have devoted significant time to the project and are responsible for the high quality of the final product.

“Each of the writing teams were supported by university researchers under the capable leadership of Dr. A. Kelly Parkes (Virginia Tech), and Dr. Frederick Burrack (Kansas State).  All of their contributions to the project are greatly appreciated.  In addition to being an ongoing resource to the subcommittees, this group continues to play a central role in the development of the Model Cornerstone Assessments.

“Finally a special thanks to Michael Blakeslee and Lynn Erickson at NAfME for their tireless efforts and behind-the-scenes work, which so often goes unrecognized.”

Richard Wells is Simsbury Public Schools (retired), and Music Chair for the Connecticut Common Arts Assessment Project.



Johanna Siebert: “The Diversity of the Music Team was Wide-Ranging”


Johanna Siebert

“I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of the Music Standards writing team. Who knew that working with such knowledgeable and reflective educators would result in the highest form of professional development I would ever experience?

“The diversity of the music team was wide-ranging; content experts in all fields of music study were included, as well as teacher educators and current practitioners. As a music supervisor, I especially appreciated the attention our team paid to the numerous public reviews that addressed grade level appropriateness, practicality, and implementation strategies, and can now envision standards-driven instruction being carried out successfully in my own district.

“Each writing team member chaired different strands of the new standards. I thoroughly enjoyed working with music educators whose considerable expertise lies in the area of early childhood music. Our Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 2 Standards team had lively weekly discussions as we compared personal practice throughout the artistic processes.

“It was enlightening to hear of regional and pedagogical differences, and our group was careful to honor these in the standards’ design. Our subcommittee met only online, as members represented different areas of the country and the voluntary nature of the work did not allow for travel expenses. Thankfully the use of technology enabled in-time and frequent meetings, and I feel that we were able to communicate well due to everyone’s flexibility and commitment to our goal.

“Due to the opportunities for public comment, many teachers have already previewed the music standards and begun planning for their implementation. “Chunking” the artistic processes into their components can be a first step in coming to understand the various applications to current classroom settings.

“Involving students in choosing the performance order for a concert can be an initial experience in “selecting,” while sharing student work with each other can yield “evaluating” through self- and peer-assessment in all processes. Our district is excited to start working with the music standards, and our music department is looking forward to many collegial  conversations as this work progresses.”

Johanna Siebert is Director of Fine Arts at Webster Central School District in New York


Robyn Swanson:”How to Unpack or Deconstruct the Standards”


Robyn Swanson

I have been a music educator for 46 years.  My career began teaching K-8 general music and middle school choral music before becoming a university-level professor of music education.  Unique to my university teaching responsibilities, is that I continue to teach music to all students, including those with disabilities, ages 3-21 through various public school and community programs.   

“Over the last three years, it has been a rewarding learning experience to serve as a  a member of the National Core Music Standards writing team.  Personal outcomes for me included the: engagement with writing team colleagues committed to the success and future of music education through frequent virtual and some face to face meetings; interactions with members of the music education research advisory team; and co-facilitator of virtual meetings for 6-8 general music educators who contributed as sub-committee writing team members, fondly referenced as the “Trailblazers.”  As a result of these professional involvements, I value the wisdom and knowledge I gleaned collaboratively crafting the standards and treasure the bonds of friendship that emerged through the process.

 “Since the National Core Music Standards evolved through multiple drafts, I thank the entire NAfME membership who participated in the review of the standards and submitted ideas for revision.  Your contributions aided in viewing the work through different lenses.  “One take-away from the standards experience that will be forever etched in my mind is how to unpack or deconstruct the standards:

  1. Read the performance standard;
  2. Play the video in your head; and
  3.  Visualize how it could be transformed into a teaching-learning opportunity for All students within 21st century music classrooms. 

“My best to all music educators, as united we orchestrate success and advance the future of music education throughout the United States of America.”

Robyn Swanson, is Western Kentucky University Distinguished Professor of Music Education, Bowling Green, Kentucky 


Armalyn De La O: “We Used Technology to Span the Miles


“Over the past two and half years I have had the honor to be a member of the National Collation for Core Arts Standards Music Writing Team in developing the new National Music Standards.  As part of the team, I have worked with some of the finest music educators in our country.

Armalyn De La O

“Throughout the process, members of the Music Writing Team never faltered in their commitment to creating the next generation of national music standards for the future of our profession and the future generations of musicians and music lovers.

“As the face-to-face working sessions were very limited, we utilized technology to span the miles, we learned to eat meals virtually together over our computers, and learned to adjust to the various time zones.

“Though at times the conference calls seemed to pile one on top of the other – Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays – the conversations in articulating and consensus building around each standard and the intensive working conditions fostered new friendships and professional relationships that will last a life time. 

“This unique professional learning experience has given me a broader understanding of the diverse contexts, content and approaches in which students across the nation learn music. My experience in the writing of the new standards has already had an impact on my work with The California Arts Project and California Music Educators Association.

“As California moves forward with the next steps necessary for the hopefully statewide adoption and implementation of these new music standards, I know that I can call upon my learning from this process and any one of the writing team members to support our efforts.

“I want to thank each and every one of the writing team members and also The California Arts Project and California Music Educators Association for their support throughout the entire process.  I look forward to the implementation of our new National Music Standards as music students move forward in the 21st Century! ” 

Armalyn De La O, Regional Director for The California Arts Project, Arts Coordinator, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools



 Photos are Courtesy of Team Members

Roz Fehr,  NAfME Communications Content Developer, June 10, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (