Common Core State Standards Affect Music Education

Common Core State Standards are the new buzz in education. The CCSS call for a paradigm shift in education at an instructional level. Based largely on a constructivist approach, these new standards require students to not only learn new information, but to create new knowledge by connecting their learning experiences. This application shows students’ higher learning skills, and educational strategies will likely shift to achieve the new standards.

The Anchor Standards will impact general education in every content and focus on students learning big ideas, experimenting to extend their knowledge, making meaning from new information, and connecting ideas between content areas. The standards require critical thinking in reading, writing, speaking and listening for all ages and levels.

One major shift for music teachers in the new Common Core State Standards will be the responsibility to provide literacy support to their students. Under the new standards, music is viewed as a language, and the Common Core Anchor Standards apply to all “technical subjects,” where music is housed.

For example, the Anchor Standards call for students to “interpret words and phrases as they are used in text.” Assuming music is a language, notation is seen as words that can be interpreted for both instrumental and choral students. The musical purpose of phrases or sections of music can be deconstructed under this Standard as well, and performance choices made based on individual or contextual analysis.

Music teachers will encourage written analysis in their classes, extending student learning to include internet-based research, and musical projects that show higher level thinking skills in addition to performance and technical skills.

An exciting development in the Curriculum Maps guides teachers to intentionally incorporate the Arts into English Language Arts, Math, and the Social Sciences. All students will have increased exposure to music history and genre study as the standards promote globally aware students who make multi-layered connections in their learning.

The Common Core State Standards, although a major paradigm shift for teachers, are a positive development for music teachers. Any time students are asked to make sense of their world, and incorporate music and the arts in their daily learning, student learning increases.

For additional resources and a toolbox of strategies, consider:

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