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The Core Music Standards are all about Music Literacy. The standards emphasize conceptual understanding in areas that 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.

These are the processes that musicians have followed for generations, even as they connect through music to their selves and their societies. And isn’t competence in Creating, Performing, and Responding what we really want for our students?

Students need to have experience in creating, to be successful musicians and to be successful 21st century citizens.

Students need to perform – as singers, as instrumentalists, and in their lives and careers.

Students need to respond to music, as well as to their culture, their community, and their colleagues.

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 common high-school music classes, such as Ensembles and Music Composition/Theory. The standards are provided in “strands” that represent the principal ways music instruction is delivered in the United States.

Click here for videos, FAQ, and more information on how the standards structure works in practice.


Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions. The Core Music Standards don’t ignore the development of skills, knowledge, and dispositions that music teaches have stressed for generations. Rather, they involve the use of these building blocks as we move toward each student’s music literacy.

Click here for some draft lists of knowledge, skills, and dispositions linked to the standards; use these lists as a guide to planning your own practice. 


Student Assessment. The Core Music Standards were developed with an eye to student assessment. Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) help guide assessment practices; several of these MCAs have been drafted and are in the field for testing.

Click here to review and use these draft MCAs. 

Click here for information on taking part in the field testing.


The Standards. Click here for a listing of the Core Music Standards themselves, along with a useful glossary, explanations of the context of the standards, and essential Opportunity-to-Learn standards. You can also access the standards for all art forms at


Additional Resources, Copyright, and Credits. 

Click here for more information, and ways to get additional help.