Elementary School Music

How Much Music Should Our Students Have?

Posted in Music Standards, NYC DOE Resources by P. Conrad on May 13, 2007

The ongoing re-organization of New York City’s public school system has had some dramatic moments in the past year. One of these came when it was announced that Project Arts funding would no longer be earmarked for arts education, but would simply be a part of each principal’s budget, to be spent as he or she deemed best for the school. [There’s an interesting update on this policy: See Richard Kessler’s December 2009 blog post on the restoration of dedicated arts funding.]

There was an outcry from people who feared many principals given the choice might divert that money to literacy and math instruction for children who were not meeting standards. Enough that then-Chancellor Joel Klein saw fit to issue a special Chancellor’s Message on the Arts in the February 27, 2007 Principals Weekly re-affirming his commitment to arts education for all children.

Then, on June 23, 2007, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a further measure to ensure that arts education will not be threatened during the undergoing re-organization of schools. The program — called “ArtsCount”— was given a sketchy description in the The New York Times the following day: it is basically a system of accountability for arts education that can be applied to schools and principals as a part of the overall school quality reviews and school “report cards.” The Department of Education’s announcement provides more detail.

Meanwhile, the Office of Arts and Special Projects issued a scary-looking document that sifted existing New York State regulations and the City’s own standards to come up with a formula for what constitutes acceptable levels of arts education, in terms of instructional hours distributed over the course of a school year.

Following is the OASP’s description of the New York State requirements for arts education at the elementary levels in New York City schools. Click here to download the full MS Word document (2 pp.).

NYSED Guidelines Grades 1 – 3
“In grades 1-3, 20% of the weekly time spent in school should be allocated to dance, music, theatre and visual arts” (Summary of Arts Provisions, pg 3)

In New York City, this is the equivalent of approximately 186 hours throughout the entire school year allocated equally between dance, music, theater, and visual arts, with approximately 46.5 hours per year in each discipline.

(186 Instructional Days/Year; 5 instructional hours/day = 930 total instructional hours/year in grades 1 -4. State guidelines recommend 20% of total instructional time to be spent in the arts for grades 1 – 3, which is the equivalent of 186 hours/year.)

NYSED Guidelines Grade 4
“In grade 4, 10% of the weekly time spent in school should be allocated to dance, music, theatre and visual arts” (Summary of Arts Provisions, pg 4)

In New York City, this is the equivalent of approximately 93 hours throughout the entire school year equally allocated between dance, music, theater, and visual arts, with approximately 23 hours per year in each discipline.

(186 Instructional Days/Year; 5 instructional hours/day = 930 total instructional hours/year. State guidelines recommend 10% of total instructional time to be spent in the arts for grade 4, which is the equivalent of 93 hours per year.)

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