Elementary School Music

NYC DOE Resources

Posted in NYC DOE Resources, Where-ever by P. Conrad on October 12, 2011

Teaching of music in NYC schools is supported and directed citywide by the The Office of the Arts and Special Projects, in the Department of Education’s headquarters in Tweed Courthouse on Chambers Street. Dr. Barbara Murray is the Director of Music Education.

The Office of the Arts and Special Projects is set up to support and enhance instructional programs in art, music, dance and theater, in grades preK-12. Each school receives a budget line for arts education based on pupil enrollment. How these funds are spent is determined by the school’s principal, in accordance with established guidelines. During the reorganization of the Department of Education, budgeting is a far more transparent process than it was in the past, and a great deal of information about how schools spend money is available publicly, on-line.

The OASP site is an on-line source for several critically-important documents:


the curriculum guide Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts (it’s a PDF file, heavy in color and graphics: not practical for downloading and printing). Note: The Blueprint “strands” on Music Education are also available in a more practical poster format (both are available for purchase; see below).

Getting the Blueprint:
Your school’s principal can order it through FAMIS: E-Catalog, search under the category “Internal Services” with the following item numbers:
TLAR10032- Music Blueprint Book- $7
TLAR10033- Music Blueprint Poster- $3
Include specific contact information on the purchase order for the delivery of materials. The necessary funds should be scheduled in Object Code 0998. For a free download of the Blueprint in a PDF file, click here.

The DOE’s brief Benchmarks for Music Learning can be examined online — a series of general statements that summarize expectations for children’s learning and abilities in grades 2, 5, 8 and 12.

In addition, the OASP page offers much valuable information on ArtsCount. This is the Department of Education’s program to ensure that arts education is not overlooked in the drive toward accountability in city schools (see post below). Components of this program include the Annual Arts in Schools Report, the Learning Environment Surveys, and Annual Compliance Review. Some of this information can be accessed on each school’s DOE-hosted website, if you click on the link to “Statistics” on the left column.

The OASP site offers links to many other valuable resources including grant sources and activities for students, including the Mr. Hollands’ Opus Foundation, and VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.

Learning Support Organizations

Each school is associated with one of the School Support Organizations (SSO). Music teachers should seek to contact the arts coordinator for their school’s SSO, and to be aware of any workshops or other SSO initiatives to promote arts education.

Citywide Professional Development for 2011-2012

Posted in Events, NYC DOE Resources, Prof. Development by P. Conrad on October 11, 2011

Two events are available for music teachers on November 8 (Election Day). One is listed below and the other can be found on the page for Teacher-Directed Staff Development.


As in the past, the 2011-12 school year offers a series of professional development events for music teachers in New York City public schools. There’s a cost for the series that must be paid for by the school at the pleasure of the principal, and participants must register on-at a dedicated website (CVENT). The cost of the series is $100 per elementary school participant for the full workshop series (3 days).

All workshops will be held at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, 35-12 35th Avenue in Queens, on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, and then on Monday, January 30, and Thursday, June 7, 2012, from 8:30 AM — 3:00 PM.

This year’s series will provide “will provide practical, performance based strategies for articulating and demonstrating the ways in which music empowers students to ‘decode’ complex text.”

“These three sessions will focus upon one, specific aspect of the music specialist’s mission: to encourage students’ appreciation and participation in music thus developing their ability to read music-related text. In doing so, the goals and outcomes for our students contained within the Music Blueprint and Common Core standards are supported.”

Participants are expected to attend all three workshop days. The registration deadline for this workshop series is Tuesday, October 31, 2011.

The Fine Print: (more…)

“Blueprint 2.0”

Posted in NYC DOE Resources by P. Conrad on December 20, 2009

In the spring of 2008 the Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects published a revised second edition of its Blueprint for Teaching & Learning in the Arts for music.

There’s a link for teachers to download the document as a .pdf file from the DOE website, but hundreds of  printed copies were distributed to music teachers and principals when it was first published. A quick peek at the new Music Blueprint shows great improvements both in content and design. (Although the font sizes are still small, the new layout makes it much easier to use.)

The Blueprint is meant to guide the teaching of music across 14 years of early childhood and young adulthood, including college prep. It’s based on the idea that music cannot be taught in isolation from the rest of the curriculum, and that along with performance and aesthetic appreciation, teaching and learning of music must emphasize music’s role in our daily lives and communities, including the world of work. Nearly half the bulk of the new edition is comprised of material excerpted from another document that was distributed to music teachers several years ago, Music From the Inside Out: A Resource Guide for Music Teachers. This consists of extensive essays compiled by WNYC’s John Schaefer on music through history and around the world.There’s also a pretty extensive list of resources, including books and recordings as well as on-line materials.


Since the Blueprint is a forward-looking document, this second edition is still an early stage in in its development. And this is made pretty clear early on, on page 9, in the introduction: “The new plan. . . will, as it evolves, provide clear and rigorous forms of assessment based on the best practices offered in the field.” The phrase “as it evolves” suggests that there is more work to be done. There are examples of “Wraparounds” — templates for planning lessons based on a piece of musical repertoire so as to include all five of the Blueprint strand. These pages do refer to assessment. However, evaluating learning outcomes is not dealt with very directly in this document.

The Blueprint is not the place to find a critical look at the fundamental problem faced by anyone who wants to make broad improvements in the teaching and learning of music in New York City’s public schools: scheduling and staffing are entirely up to the principals in each school, and these decisions are based on fluctuating enrollment and class sizes. Many schools cannot guarantee every child will have weekly music instruction throughout each of his or her seven years in elementary school. In some schools, one out of the four kindergarten classes will simply do without music; sometimes the whole fourth grade will have two science classes per week — at the expense of one weekly period for music. In addition, some New York City students change schools several times during their elementary careers.

Under these circumstances, consistent achievement (and assessments) for second and fifth graders throughout a given school, or across the whole city will be wildly impractical and difficult to ensure. Since the Blueprint document isn’t the place to address this problem, readers are left alone with the question: “What will my students learn, and how will I know they are learning it?”

“P” In-Service courses for Music Teachers

Posted in NYC DOE Resources, Prof. Development by P. Conrad on November 14, 2009

“P” courseThe New York City After School Professional Development Program offers a selection of “P” In-Service courses that are designed to equip educators (teachers, secretaries, and other school-based personnel) with the skills and abilities to increase student achievement.  Course offerings are high quality, low-cost alternatives to traditionally offered college courses.  Available across all content areas, courses may be applied toward salary differential requirements and meet the New York State 175-hour Professional Development requirement. (ASPDP classes do not offer academic credits toward fulfillment of licensing requirements.)

Summer “P” course registration will begin on June 2nd after 4 PM.  Mark your calendar for the Fall 2009 registration which begins on August 4th after 4 PM. Fall courses begin meeting on Sept 21st. Visit the ASPDP website to view the catalog of courses. For additional information contact Helaine Schwartz, Director at 718-935-5753 or via e-mail at aspdp@schools.nyc.gov

Past offerings that may be of interest to music teachers included Using the Recorder in the Classroom, Composing with Garage Band, Technology Through Music and Other Arts, and The American Musicals Project – History, & Literature through the Arts.

(Click on the last title to see a description of the course.)

Two DOE-designed tools for reflecting on your music program

Posted in Music Standards, NYC DOE Resources by P. Conrad on November 8, 2009

The first is a 27-page .pdf file of another colorful and beautifully-designed DOE document that teachers and administrators and others can use to reflect on the practice of teaching and learning music in their schools (click the picture to download it). This link is to the Music Reflection Tool for elementary schools, but there are equivalents for upper grades as well.

It’s organized into four areas:

  1. Organizational Practice: School Environment: including the school’s physical resources/space, staff/instructional time, teacher support, arts data use
  2. Instructional Practice: curriculum, teaching and learning
  3. Student Outcomes: student engagement, demonstrated arts skills, knowledge and understanding
  4. Arts & Cultural Service Providers: school’s use of in-school residencies, exhibitions and performances

The Music Reflection Tool is made available for your download and perusal from the Office of Arts & Special Projects webpages, where you can also download the Blueprint for Teaching & Learning in Music, and learn about upcoming professional development events.

Also available at the O.A.S.P. site is a similar document, Viewing, Assessing, and Supporting Effective Arts Instruction that provides checklists and rubrics of what arts instruction should look like (click the picture to download it as a .pdf file).

It includes four pages specifically on music instruction, noting the kinds of things that should be evident to anyone looking at the lesson plan, or observing the students or the teacher. Each page states in bold type that “throughout the study of a piece of music, connections to all five strands of the Blueprint should be made, thus informing students’ understanding and performance of the repertoire.”

Resources for School Leaders

Posted in NYC DOE Resources by P. Conrad on April 18, 2009

Principals and school leaders approach arts education from a wide variety of backgrounds and understandings. Some may have actual professional or amateur experience as musicians, painters, or dancers. They may take an active role in shaping and supervising arts learning in their classrooms, or they may prefer to leave it in the hands of their staff.

In elementary schools, generally speaking, the visual arts are taught by a full-time staff, while music, dance and drama may be taught either by in-school staff or else through a series of visits by a “teaching artist,” who comes through a contracted vendor or partner organization. Decisions about scheduling of classes, purchase of materials, field trips to concert halls, or in-school performances by visiting artists are all made by the school leader.

schoolleadersmanualimageAs part of its effort to support arts education in New York City public schools — including music — the Department of Education recently put together a set of resources to educate school leaders about what kinds of arts education should be happening in their schools.  The Arts Tool Kit for School Leaders includes a several components that can be downloaded from the OASP site, and examined. While these resources are not specifically intended for teachers, they provide a lot of valuable information that can help teachers advocate effectively for the arts within their school communities.

The main documents included are copies of each of the Arts Blueprints and their various accompanying wall-charts.

The Learning Walk-Through for the Arts describes what a supervisor should look for as they evaluate the facilities and activities in place for arts learning at a particular site. For music, this might include the kinds of space available for lessons or activities, as well as equipment, instruments, etc.

The Arts Education Manual for School Leaders is the administrators’ complement to the arts Blueprints. It describes all the programs and resources in place to support effective arts instruction.

Finally, the kit includes DVD of a short film called “Quality Arts Education in New York City” that’s meant to assist school leaders in implementing and enriching arts programs in their schools. You can watch it on YouTube.

The ArtsCount Guide for Principals (not included) summarizes the various accountability measures included in the ArtsCount program. Included are the various categories of expenditures for the arts: arts staff, partnerships, professional performances, field trips, transportation, professional development, equipment and/or repairs, per-session activities, and supplies.

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Assessment of Music Learning

music-assessment-bk-cover1In 2008-09 the NYCDOE Office of the Arts & Special Projects chose assessment as the focus for its year-long series of professional development events for music teachers. Following the most recent meeting in the series, participants received copies of a 42-page booklet published by Hal Leonard, The Ultimate Music Assessment and Evaluation Kit. The book isn’t an academic discussion of issues in assessing music learning, but provides a lot of examples for teachers who want to explore formal tools for assessing and evaluating their students’ work. There are a lot of examples of rubrics and grade cards, and there’s a fairly up-to-date bibliography of articles from MENC publications, and some things by Howard Gardner.

Licensing of Music Teachers

Posted in Certification, NYC DOE Resources, Prof. Development by P. Conrad on March 29, 2009

Every music teacher in a New York City public school should be certified to teach music grades PreK through 12. The NYC Department of Education seeks to have all arts teaching done by licensed arts educators, and requires the New York State Professional Certificate in Music as its license for music teachers.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Requirements for a NYS K-12 Permanent Certification in Music

(from the NYS Department of Education)

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………

1)     Completion of a NYS-registered Program in Music

Requirement Description: “Registered program” means an education program that has been approved in advance by the New York State Education Department as containing the studies required for certification as a New York State educator.

3)    Content Specialty Test in Music (see links below)

Requirement Description: The Content Specialty Test is administered by the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE). Offered in specific subjects, the CST typically consists of multiple-choice questions and a written assignment. The CST in Music also includes taped listening components and a written assignment. The purpose of the test is to assess knowledge and skills in the subject of the certificate sought. (A description of the Content Specialty Test in Music can be downloaded. To register for the CST in Music go to the NYSTCE site.)

4)    Institutional Recommendation:

Requirement Description: A statement from a New York State institution of higher education that has an approved preparation program. Through its statement, the institution recommends a candidate for certification. Contact the certification officer at your institution to ensure the recommendation has been entered. The certification officer should also supply you with a Student Application Information Sheet with information required to complete the online application. (This requirement would not apply to a candidate who has simply accrued the 30 required credits without c0mpleting a degree program in Music.)

5)    Content Core – Music – 30 credits.

Requirement Description: “Content core” refers to coursework that instructs candidates in the specific subject matter of the certificate title sought (e.g., Music). It is the equivalent of a major in that subject area. Course content, rather than the name of the department through which a course is offered, determines the acceptability of a course to fulfill these requirements. Courses in the methods of teaching a subject are not acceptable as study in the content area.

Note: content core courses must be passed with a “C” or above at the undergraduate level or “B-” or above at the graduate level.

United Federation of Teachers certification specialists recommend that several of the required credits should be at the graduate level, although this is not explicitly required by the NY State or NY City Departments of Education.

The music certificate is valid for vocal and instrumental music. Acceptable studies include courses in music theory, performance, music history, instrument repair, and performance of instruments (whether or not one’s major instrument). Courses in methods of teaching children how to sing or how to play an instrument are not accepted toward the content area requirement. Instead, those courses may be applied to the professional education requirement.

In addition to the above requirements, candidates should have completed:

6)     ATS-W
7)     LAST
8)     2 years of paid, full-time classroom teaching experience
9)     U.S. Citizenship or INS Permanent Residence
10)    Fingerprint Clearance

To review and update your status online visit the NYSED system, you’ll need to set up a log-in account at the TEACH System, where you can update all your relevant information. When your requirements are complete you’ll use this system to complete your application on-line.

In addition, every newly-licensed teacher needs to complete 175 hours of professional development every five years. Requirements are available on a document you can download from the NYSED site.

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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Carnegie Hall and Juilliard’s program for music in city public schools

Posted in NYC Arts Partners, NYC DOE Resources by P. Conrad on December 3, 2006

A few years ago, the New York Times reported on The Academy — an ambitious collaboration by Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School of Music  and the Weill Music Institute, intended to cultivate musicians with a wider view of the world, who will populate professional orchestras and help turn them into cultural forces in their cities.

At the same time, it’s meant to support music education at public schools throughout New York City. According the Times, young musicians are selected to receive high-level musical training, performance opportunities at Carnegie Hall and guidance from city school teachers in how to teach music. The “fellows” are each assigned to a different school and work there one and a half days a week, where they teach their instruments, or music in general, and give their own pointers to school music teachers.

In the article, Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director at Carnegie Hall, and Joseph W. Polisi, Juilliard’s president, describe the Academy program largely in terms of its impact on the classically-trained musicians that will participate. The Department of Education is contributing almost $200,000 to the first phase of the operation, which lasts from January through June. “The Department of Education is effectively buying services,” Mr. Polisi said. The total yearly budget is expected to reach $5 million.

Click here Juilliard Carnegie Hall Program to download a copy of the whole article.