Elementary School Music

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?”

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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Citywide Music Teachers Professional Development

Posted in Prof. Development by P. Conrad on October 7, 2007

The first city-wide music professional development workshop for 2007-2008 was Election Day, November 6. A follow-up event is set for Tuesday, January 29, 2008.
The Election Day event day began with a performance of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” by the Orchestra of St. Luke in its entirety. This piece provided “working repertoire” for the day’s activities: used as a point of entry to the work begun in last year in Blueprint workshops. The Vivaldi piece was the focus for participants in clarifying and deepening their understanding of how repertoire, regardless of its source, can be used to achieve Blueprint-based instructional goals for students at all levels.

Following the performance, teachers and a designated DOE facilitator met with members of the OSL in smaller “break-out” sessions. Each group discussed and identified the salient musical, interpretive, and historical aspects of the Vivaldi piece. Each participant receive a complimentary Dover Press score of the complete work. Finally, paired colleagues and small groups worked to create a written “Wraparound” (curriculum guide) with embedded assessments, based upon “Le Quattro Stagione.”

Principals will need to purchase the workshop on your behalf as a FAMIS item, so it’s important to discuss the date and your plans, in advance of the registration deadline. For the Election Day event, principals had to make their FAMIS purchase no later than Friday October 26.

Registration is completed by going on-line to http://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=WEB226U744UTCW
Contact the Office of Arts and Special Education for more information about the January 29, 2008 date.
E-Mail: artsandspecialprojects@schools.nyc.gov
Website: http://schools.nyc.gov/offices/teachlearn/arts/index2.html
Phone: 212-374-0300