Music Education

benedict cathyCathy L. Benedict, Florida International University
CMS Board Member for Music Education

The field of music education continued to build on the strategy put forth in our 2011 message: educating involved stakeholders as to the policy ramifications of Race to the Top. The Music Education Advisory Committee made a concerted effort to draw attention to this through sessions and discussions situated not only within CMS but also with other conference and educative venues as well. Indeed, becoming aware of the power and impact of policy in general has been and continues to be our guiding focus.

While Race to the Top continues to influence curricular decisions for music education, other policies are becoming just as, if not more, immediate for those of us in higher education. For instance, the Common Core Standards have been adopted by most every state in the union and will be in effect throughout the U.S. as of 2015. These standards:

provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. (

While these standards are aimed at the generalist curriculum (language arts, mathematics, science) many of the music education pre-service teachers we are preparing to enter the public school forum will be affected by these particular standards.

Not only will music students need to be aware of the Common Core standards and those ways in which merit pay, for example, may be connected to how well their institutions score on the accompanying test, they will also need to have an understanding of the new iteration of the National Music Standards. The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, which is the guiding force behind the Next Generation National Arts Standards movement, includes NAfME (National Association for Music Education) as the governing body for the music community.

While the Next Generation National Arts Standards movement may seem to be the purview of K-12 educative situations it is worth noting a few of the more salient "consensus" points and goals of the Coalition for Core Arts Standards and those ways this would impact the first 2 years of higher education curricula in not just the area of music education:

Proposed Details of Next Generation National Arts Standards

I. National Arts Standards should extend PreK-14.

1. Extending to 14 (college sophomore) will enable standards writers to work with higher education colleagues to delineate college general education arts expectations that articulate with Pre-12 expectations and might also apply to students in technical/community/junior colleges.
2. Such general education expectations would provide the basis for new AP and other exams/courses in the arts, designed to enable students to master and demonstrate their mastery of college-level work.
3. Based on the work described above, designers of teacher preparation can then treat teacher standards in part as what students who major in an art form should learn beyond the core standards for allcollege-educated students. [italics and underline included] (

These standards are in the final stages of being reviewed and accepted.  Clearly, the implications for higher education are manifold.  Indeed, it may be of interest to know that:

The College Board, in partnership with the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS), has released a new research report that details the alignment between the 2010 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math and the National Core Arts Standards currently being written. (

In the next few years policy will be made and implemented that affect preK-14 curriculum. Documents will be written, entire conferences dedicated to the dissemination of the standards (which will more than likely be followed by how to ‘teach” to the Next Generation Standards sessions), on and on and on. CMS must be poised to recognize and address these policies and add to the conversation with the mindful and scholarly embedded engagements that are the hallmark of the CMS space. With that in mind it is a particular goal of this Board Member and Advisory Committee to continue discussions as to policy and policy-making issues for the good of all music education in Higher Education institutions.