2014 Music Standards

When reading the standards, note that content new to any given level appears in italic type.

Context and Explanation. The 2014 Music Standards are written in the context of Artistic Processes (with process components), Enduring Understandings, and Essential Questions. Those elements, and words used in the Standards, are defined in these documents:


View the National Standards Comparison chart: 1994 versus 2014


  • Nicholas Germer

    So why are there not standards for beginning band objectives such as instrument care, beginning instrument objectives, music notation reading and understanding? Am I not finding them?

    • David Jamil Godbold

      I would imagine that the standards are meant for assessment, it’s hard to do an assessment on instrument care.

      It would mean Math Standards should have care for math instruments: calculators, protractors… and literacy would have to have book care.

      • okorpheus

        And heave forbid we have anything in education that doesn’t have assessment as the end goal.

      • Ashley Hope Stanley

        But library media includes standards for book care. Guidance includes caring for school/class resources. So why not focus on those practical aspects of being a musician, or at least part of a community that uses the music room and its resources?

    • Nicholas Mercier

      To respond in a manner similar to David – these standards are about the core instructional skills to develop a musical mind. Care and maintaining instruments in the standards would be akin to having instructions on how to sharpen a pencil being part of the writing standards in ELA.

      Regarding music an note reading, those are covered under the general music standards for the appropriate grade levels. Also, those skills are embedded into the standards. If you look at the creating and performing standards it references being able to perform expressive qualities, to be able to select music based on reading ability, to be able to compose rhythmic and melodic fragments. All of these standards require students to have an understanding of musical notation.

      There is a difference between Standards, which are the high level concepts of musicianship, and scope and sequence, which is what rhythms, pitches, and markings to teach first.

  • Lynn Tuttle

    All the skills that you have outlined ARE vital for beginning band. But – they are skills underlying the creation and performance of music (as well as responding to the music) as new band students. The standards focus on these artistic processes – understanding that the skills are necessary in support of those processes.

    NAfME’s Councils of Band, Orchestra, General Music, etc. have been working on building the “supporting documentation” of what the knowledge, skills and dispositions are for each of the new areas of the standards. So – you can look at the knowledge, skills and dispositions page to see how the Band Council is starting to build out skills/knowledge underneath the standards. http://www.nafme.org/my-classroom/standards/knowledge-skills-and-dispositions/ Currently there is information for novice (beginning) band for creating music, which should give you a sense of how the skills support the standards.

    You can also have visit the Arizona standards. In our 2015 revision, we attempted to “marry” the foundational skills in our older standards to the processes in the new 2014 Music Standards. You can find those for performing ensembles (including beginning band) here: http://azartsstandards.com/sites/default/files/2015%20AZ%20Academic%20Standards%20in%20the%20Arts%20-%20Music%2C%20Performing%20Ensembles%20-%20Novice%20to%20Advanced.pdf

    Hope this helps! You can always email me with further questions at lynnt@nafme.org. Thank you!

    • Amanda

      This is a great start, but there’s still only the Novice level posted, not to mention there’s not even a mention of choir. Shouldn’t these have been released with the 2014 (!) Standards. And your post is 6 months old- no progress has been posted since then?

      • Hello, Amanda. From Lynn Tuttle: Thank you for checking back in and seeing what resources are currently available. While it would have been great to create the knowledge/skills/dispositions support materials along with the Standards, that additional work wasn’t possible given time and distance constraints for our all-volunteer standards writing team. We are very grateful to our current volunteer leadership with our Councils who are stepping up and getting work completed in this area! If you would like to suggest a “next area” for a Council to undertake as they create “KSD” materials for the standards, please let me know and I will share it with the appropriate Council chair. To learn more about these volunteer leadership councils, please visit: https://nafme.org/community/societies-and-councils/

  • Brian

    These standards completely ignore the thought process in producing a quality tone, maintaining good intonation, reading rhythms, notes, articulations, expressive terms, all while lining up with 80 other students playing multiple parts to produce a musical performance. Band, Orchestra, and Choir are PERFORMANCE focused classes. Most of our time is spent on skills and interpretation of quality music. Some improvisation and composition is important. However, just as one must learn to hear and speak before reading and writing, it takes years of singing alone and with others, then playing alone and then with others, then reading music, before writing music in a substantial way can take place.

    • Kendra

      “Writing music” or other activities that emphasize the creation of something new does NOT have to take years of preparation. My kindergarten students regularly use vocal improvisation during general music class, for example. My older elementary students improvise using recorders and Orff instruments as well. Create is at the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy; as music educators, teaching in a discipline rich in opportunities for creativity, we should be implementing, planning and providing opportunities in each class time for improvisation and composition. It doesn’t have to be elaborate! But we cannot claim to be a “creative” discipline if we do not allow our students the time, experience and training in actual creating. It is time to move past the skill acquisition only.