Want to Incorporate the New Music Standards in Your Classroom?

The new Music Standards provide educators with a framework for delivering the long-established benefits of music education in both new and traditional ways. They are by design open to a variety of approaches, in a way that is distinct from the potent mix of Common Core State Standards and standardized testing, which has been widely criticized for narrowing student-learning opportunities.

However, music educators wrote the new National 2014 Music Standards for music educators as part of a broad effort with our colleagues in the other arts and they have a student-centered focus that focuses on each educator’s teaching style and unique contributions.

Whether or not you were one of the hundreds of music teachers who reviewed the new National Standards for Music Education over the past two years, you can use the Standards in your classroom. 

The goal of the new Standards is not to impose restrictive rules governing what to do or how to teach, but to provide voluntary, flexible processes and strategies that can be welcomed, implemented, and assessed in every American school district.

Mike Blakeslee, NAfME Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, says that the new 2014 Music Standards:

  • Seek to instill music literacy, emphasizing conceptual understanding, which is a departure from the previous emphasis on knowledge and skills.
  • Reflect the actual processes in which musicians engage. The Standards cultivate a student’s ability to carry out the Three Artistic Processes of Creating, Performing and Responding, along with connecting their musical learning to their lives and their communities. Each process is broken down into steps, or “components,” in a way that is true to music education today. The new standards provide teachers with frameworks that closely match the unique goals of their specialized classes. The standards are presented in a grade-by-grade sequence from pre-K through grade 8, and discrete strands address high-school music classes, such as Ensembles, and Music Composition/Theory, Technology, and the growing field of Harmonizing Instruments.

Mike also notes, “Some teaching methods will not change, If you want teach your students how to play a chord on the guitar, you will do it the same way,” adding, 

“The Standards give a new way to focus on the big ideas of music.

– Mike Blakeslee 

 The following NAfME resources aim to demonstrate how to implement those big ideas.


Standards, Assessment, & Evaluation PreConference

On October 25th and 26th, NAfME will present the “Standards, Assessment, & Evaluation” Preconference at its 2014 National In-Service Conference at the Gaylord Opryland and Resort in Nashville Tennessee.

The Preconference will explore the ways the new standards differ from the 1994 standards, the ways that they serve music education in the era of Common Core State Standards, and the implications of the standards for student assessment and teacher evaluation. Further, the Preconference will help teachers and administrators come to grips with the complexities of linking current curricular focus on Knowledge and Skills to the

Sessions will look at the development of the Standards as well as the practical roll-out of Standards tools and the political context of the tools.


2014 National In-Service Conference

Gaylord, Opryland, Nashville TN – October 26-29, 2014 

Attend the most outstanding professional development event of the year! This conference will provide you with numerous professional development opportunities through workshops and discussion with other music educators from around the country. Many of the sessions will help you expand your teaching techniques, offer new ideas and knowledge to better educate the students at your school, and provide information on how to incorporate the new National Standards for Music Education into the lessons you teach. You may be eligible to earn up to 14 hours of continuing education. Graduate credit is also available!

Standards Session Topics Include:

Applying the National Core Music Standards in Your….”

  • PreK-5 General Music Classroom
  • Harmonizing Instruments Classroom
  • Ensemble Classroom
  • Composition, Technology or Theory Classroom
  • 6-8 General Music Classroom

National Music Standards Writers will be available to answer questions about the new Standards on Tuesday, October 28 during the conference at the National Music Standards Gateway to Success Learning Lounge sponsored by Solutions Music Group. Visit “NAfME Central” between 11 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to interact with the largest number of experts! 


Read more about the structure of the National Music Standards at nafme.org/my-classroom/standards/. Other resources include:

  • “Opportunity to Learn” Standards that can help you understand the structures that need to be in place to support student success in the standards
  •  Lesson plan database (“My Music Class”)
  • Additional support materials/processes for purchase, including: The Solutions Music Group, powered by NAfME, with consultants ready to help school districts calibrate the standards to their situations. [add link]
  • The NAfME Workbooks for teacher evaluation, which draw on the Model Cornerstone Assessments to help inform the student achievement part of the teacher evaluation equation


An overview of the broader National Core Arts Standards, prepared by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, is online at nationalartsstandards.org/


Kristen Rencher, Social Media and Online Community Engagement Coordinator. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)