Elementary School Music

Posted in Choral Music, Events, Prof. Development by P. Conrad on December 13, 2011

The Office of Arts and Special Projects just recently announced “Cross-Choral Training™,” an all-day Saturday workshop for NYC Department of Education choral/vocal teachers.

The clinicians are two master choral conductors: Dianne Berkun (right) of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and Jeannette LoVetri (left), BYC’s Voice Specialist.

BYCA’s Cross-Choral Training™ method is functional voice training applied in a group setting, based on the latest information on voice science and knowledge of the young voice. Through the development of vocal registers and resonance adjustments, singers develop the capacity to perform music of diverse genres and styles authentically, and to respond to musical and expressive demands of the most challenging choral repertoire.

The workshop will be held at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy, 179 Pacific Street, Brooklyn (near the Bergen Street F train) from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday January 28.


“Arts Achieve:” New York City’s arts education assessments

Posted in NYC Arts Partners by P. Conrad on November 11, 2011

This past year, the city’s Department of Education joined with a group of local arts organizations and won a multimillion dollar “Investing in Innovation Fund” (i3) grant from the US Department of Education. The project, called Arts Achieve: Impacting Student Success in the Arts, is spearheaded by the longtime DOE arts-partner Studio in a School, and includes Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute; ArtsConnection; 92nd Street Y/Harkness Dance Center, Dance Education Laboratory;  and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution. An additional partner is Metis Associates, a consulting group that provides research, evaluation, program development and information technology services.

According the Arts Achieve grant application, the project is meant to create “standardized ways of assessing student achievement in visual arts, music, theater, and dance in benchmark years: 5th, 8th, and 12th grades.”  Hopefully, the assessment results will translate into better classroom instruction and higher student achievement. Use of digital technology features broadly in the project and in its eventual wider application, in tools for communication, for assessment feedback, and for accessing arts curriculum.


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…)

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.”

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.