The New National 2014 Music Standards – Here's What NAfME Wants You to Know





The New 2014 Music Standards were released on June 4.  The Standards were part of a larger project, encompassing standards for all of the arts, and the results of the National Core Arts Standards can be found in a searchable format.   

All of these standards are the product of a two-year process that has directly involved more than 100 music teachers, district-wide music administrators and college researchers, as well as professional teaching artists in the writing process.

The standards have gone through three rounds of public review, which garnered valuable comments and suggestions from 6,000 educators.  The inclusive development of these standards sets them apart from those of other disciplines.  They are clearly not only for the profession but also by the profession.

 Unlike the NCCAS site, the NAfME site the music standards are presented in the format that music teachers will find most compelling, familiar, and useful.


  What’s the difference between the 1994 and 2014 standards? 

  • The new standards focus on conceptual understanding.  This is somewhat different from the 1994 standards, which consisted primarily of knowledge and skills.  The new standards provide a framework for developing student independence and musical literacy. 
  • The new standards achieve this through by cultivating students’ ability to carry out the Three Artistic Processes of Creating, Performing and Responding, which are articulated in specific process components (steps) with related Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions.  In the past, few teachers taught just one 1994 Content Standard during a lesson.  There was no clear structure that helped teachers put the standards together. The Three Artistic Processes model will aid instruction by closely matching the actual processes in which musicians engage
  • The 2014 standards are presented through a grade-by-grade sequence of standards from PK through 8, and through discrete strands at the secondary level that include classes commonly found in schools – Ensembles, Guitar/Harmonizing Instruments, Music Composition/Theory, and Music Technology.  This greater specificity will help teachers to write grade-by-grade objectives.  Separate strands at the high school level will provide teachers with standards that more closely match the unique goals of their specialized classes.
  • Model Cornerstone Assessments will also be associated with the standards.  These tasks, currently in draft form, will eventually provide teachers with research-based assessments that can be modified for classroom, district or statewide use.   As a result of piloting – in which music teachers will participate – they will also generate student work that can be used to clarify the standards themselves.


How are standards different from curriculum

These voluntary standards allow a great deal of flexibility for states, districts and teachers to develop unique curriculum.  Teachers in the field requested that suggested knowledge and skills be crafted as a supplement to the standards. NAfME will soon announce plans to engage teachers across the country in the development of these and other additional resources, which will eventually be posted on the NAfME site.  However, even with these optional resources, there will be plenty of room for development and refinement at the state, district and classroom level.


Roz Fehr,  NAfME Communications Content Developer, June 5, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (