Grade Your Child's School Music Program

This article describes the criteria of a good music program at various school levels.

Brought to you by MENC: The National Association for Music Education.

You want your child to be exposed to the best music program possible, but how can you tell if her school is making the grade? These simple checklists take the guesswork out of evaluating a school music program.

School-District Checklist

1. Does every student in the school have access to music if they want it?

2. Is there a written curriculum based on local, state, or national standards?

3. Are the facilities adequate for the needs of the music program?

4. Is the program fully funded or must the teacher and students engage in fundraising to meet basic needs?

5. Is there obvious administrative support for the growth of the music program?

6. Are there public performance opportunities for parents and others to enjoy?

7. Do students study a variety of music styles?

8. Are the music courses taught by qualified teachers?

9. Is there parent, student, and community support for the music programs?

Elementary-School Checklist

  • Do all children receive about 90 minutes of instruction per week?

  • Do the students engage in activities such as singing, listening, and playing instruments?

  • Do the students have a chance to create music?

  • Do students learn basic music notation?

  • Are there performing groups for children to join if they wish?
  • Middle-School Checklist

  • Does the school offer opportunities to learn band instruments, orchestra (string) instruments, or choral music? Is general music class a part of the school schedule?

  • In schools not using block scheduling, are there at leat eight periods in the day for instruction so that students have sufficient time to pursue an interest in music?

  • Do students study a variety of music?

  • Is music required of all students through grade eight?

  • Are there adequate facilities, equipment, and performance opportunities for students in performing groups such as band, orchestra, and chorus?
  • High-School Checklist

  • Is the school schedule rich enough and structured so that every student can take music during their high school career?

  • Are bands, orchestras, and choral groups offered during the day for credit?

  • Are courses such as music theory, music appreciation, general music, and guitar/keyboard classes offered during the day for credit?

  • Does the school have equipment and facilities good enough to support high-quality music instruction?

  • Does competition and traveling to special events, and fundraising, take up a reasonable amount of time in the course of a year?
  • Source: "Opportunity to Learn Standards," Published by MENC.

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