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Observe “Music In Our Schools Month” By Evaluating Best Practices in Music Education



March is the official month of Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM), sponsored by the National Association for Music Education and focusing on the need for and benefits of quality music education programs.

Is your district seeking to develop enhanced music education instruction and curricula for your students?  Hanover Research’s team researched best practices in music education, as well as standards and practices specific to instrumental and vocal instruction. Below are our key findings:

  • Music education, as a component of fine arts education, is considered to be a part of the core curriculum by several state departments of education. Accordingly, considerable guidance on curricular development and standards associated with music education programs is often provided at the state level.
  • Music instruction in elementary school typically involves a holistic approach, incorporating both instrumental and vocal instruction; by contrast, music education courses in middle and high school generally feature either vocal or instrumental instruction. At the junior high and secondary levels, vocal and instrumental instruction are seldom taught in the same course.
  • Research indicates that, as a component of the core curriculum, music education should include set standards and objectives for instruction and assessment. In addition to training in musical performance, the literature suggests that students should learn to read music; gain exposure to a variety of musical genres and traditions, couched in cultural and historical context; compose music; discuss and analyze music; and develop a vocabulary for evaluating music and performance.
  • Researchers largely agree that the aim of music education should not be exclusively focused on preparing for a concert, contest, festival, or similar event. Instead, vocal and instrumental instruction should aim to foster a deeper understanding of the subject, rather than providing the minimum instruction necessary to merely replicate an artistic work.
  • Teachers are encouraged to use music to make connections with other aspects of the school curriculum, especially with regard to reading, writing and mathematics. While interdisciplinary connections can deepen students’ understanding, however, scholars caution that educators should be careful to maintain a balance; music education should not be treated primarily as a teaching tool for other subjects.
  • In terms of the preparation necessary for effective instruction, music teachers should be trained in their subject, provided with appropriate facilities and equipment, and accorded the same preparation and instructional time as teachers of other subjects.
  • While instrumental and vocal instruction differ in terms of the musical instrument in which students are trained, state departments of education generally cite comparable overarching standards and objectives across the two areas of study. Instruction tends to be differentiated at the micro – rather than the macro – level.


The above findings were pulled from Hanover Research’s October 2012 report Best Practices in Vocal and Instrumental Instruction. To obtain a free copy of the report that provides a more comprehensive evaluation of best practices and profiles of K-12 music education policies designed by several state education departments, fill out the form below. 

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