The position statements at the links below represent some of the best thinking of state and national leaders as they respond to important issues related to music education. When discussions in a school or community approach these issues, educators and community members are encouraged to refer to these position statements so better inform the discussion. It can often be helpful to draw upon information from sources outside of the local area.
Expand All | Close AllMusic Teacher Licensure
Music Teacher Licensure
WMEA adopted to following position statement in response to the Executive Summary of Preliminary Licensing Recommendations from the Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges (PDF). (Adopted February 2017)
It is the position of Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA) that all children
deserve equal access to a credible and comprehensive well-rounded education that
includes the study of music taught by a certified music teacher. Moreover, it is also the
position of WMEA that certification for music teachers in Wisconsin continue to be
issued by level (Elementary and Secondary) and by area of expertise (Instrumental
Music, Choral Music and General Music).
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Statement on Inclusion
Wisconsin Music Educators Association dedicates itself to representing the shared interests and needs of Wisconsin music educators and fostering their growth in a global society. This is our mission and it applies to ALL people, regardless of race, ethnicity, demographic or socioeconomic status. WMEA, in affiliation with NAfME, recognizes that there is continuous room for growth in the areas of inclusion, diversity and equity and it is our ongoing commitment and priority to promote these important aspects in the music profession so that we can grow together while providing the best music education possible for ALL students.
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Music Education for All Wisconsin Students
Adopted June 2020
It is the position of Wisconsin Music Educators Association that all children deserve equal access to a credible and well-rounded education that includes high-quality study of music and the arts, taught by certified music and arts teachers. Grounded in standards that highlight the artistic processes Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting, the study of music develops knowledge, skills, and dispositions that provide lifelong benefits to students as individuals and members of a global society, as follows:
- Intentional engagement with music leads to a richer and more meaningful life, as it helps students appreciate beauty, express emotion, develop creativity, value themselves and those around them, and connect with the global community.
- The study of music supports crucial brain development and leads to educational outcomes considered essential for college, career, and citizenship readiness, including: heightened social and emotional awareness, elevated engagement and achievement, and enhanced critical thinking.
- The ability to express oneself through music and the arts builds self-efficacy, nurtures and reflects different cultures, and breaks down traditional barriers, emphasizing commonalities and reinforcing that which makes us uniquely human.
Music and the arts are essential components of a well-rounded education for all children in Wisconsin. As such, support for music education is critical, for the well-being of our students and the welfare of our society.
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Joint Statement of Principles for Arts Education
The Value and Quality of Arts Education
A Statement of Principles
We, the undersigned representatives of professional education associations, share a deep concern about the nature, role, importance, and future of arts education in the schools where our members teach, administer, supervise, and make and implement education policy.
We are unanimous in our agreement that all Americans who share our concern about the quality of education in general, and of arts education in particular (dance, visual arts, music, theatre), should understand the value of arts education for every child, and we encourage those who will work with us to enhance and support arts education in our nation’s schools. To that end, we invite all Americans, both within the professional education community and outside it, to join us in support of the following principles.
First, every student in the nation should have an education in the arts.
This means that all PreK-12 students must have a comprehensive, balanced, sequential, in-school program of instruction in the arts, taught by qualified teachers, designed to provide students of all ages with skills and knowledge in the arts in accordance with high national, state, and local standards.
Second, to ensure a basic education in the arts for all students, the arts should be recognized as serious, core academic subjects.
The arts should not be treated as extracurricular activities, but as integral core disciplines. In practice, this means that effective arts education requires sequential curricula, regular time-on-task, qualified teachers, and a fair share of educational resources. Similarly, arts instruction should be carried out with the same academic rigor and high expectations as instruction in other core subjects.
Third, as education policy makers make decisions, they should incorporate the multiple lessons of recent research concerning the value and impact of arts education.
The arts have a unique ability to communicate the ideas and emotions of the human spirit. Connecting us to our history, our traditions, and our heritage, the arts have a beauty and power unique in our culture. At the same time, a growing body of research indicates that education in the arts provides significant cognitive benefits and bolsters academic achievement, beginning at an early age and continuing through school. (See appendix for supporting examples.)
Fourth, qualified arts teachers and sequential curriculum must be recognized as the basis and core for substantive arts education for all students.
Teachers who are qualified as arts educators by virtue of academic study and artistic practice provide the very best arts education possible. In-school arts programs are designed to reach and teach all students, not merely the interested, the talented, or those with a particular socioeconomic background. These teachers and curricula should be supported by local school budgets and tax dollars, nurtured by higher education, and derive direct professional development benefits from outstanding teachers and trainers in the organizations we represent. Several national education associations identify the arts as essential learning in which students must demonstrate achievement. (Breaking Ranks, MASSP, 1996, Principal magazine, NAESP, March, 1998.)
Fifth, arts education programs should be grounded in rigorous instruction, provide meaningful assessment of academic progress and performance, and take their place within a structure of direct accountability to school officials, parents, and the community.
In-school programs that are fully integrated into state and local curricula afford the best potential for achieving these ends.
Sixth, community resources that provide exposure to the arts, enrichment, and entertainment through the arts offer valuable support and enhancement to an in-school arts education.
As a matter of policy or practice, however, these kinds of activities cannot substitute for a comprehensive, balanced, sequential arts education taught by qualified teachers, as shaped by clear standards and focused by the content of the arts disciplines.
Seventh, and finally, we offer our unified support to those programs, policies, and practitioners that reflect these principles.
On behalf of the students we teach, the schools we administer and work in, and the communities we serve, we ask all Americans who care deeply about making the whole spectrum of cultural and cognitive development available to their children to join us in protecting and advancing opportunities for all children to receive an education in the arts.
American Association of School Administrators
With 15,000 members, the American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is a professional organization for superintendents, central office administrators, and other system-wide leaders.
American Federation of Teachers
The American Federation of Teachers, which has more than 2,100 locals nationwide and a 1998 membership of 980,000, was founded in 1916 to represent the economic, social, and professional interests of classroom teachers.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is an international, nonprofit, nonpartisan education association committed to the mission of forging covenants in teaching and learning for the success of all learners. ASCD was founded in 1943 and is one of the largest professional education associations in the world, with membership approaching 200,000.
Council for Basic Education Editors note: This council was dissolved in 2004 due to lack of funding.
The mission of the Council for Basic Education is to strengthen teaching and learning of the basic subjects – English, history, government, geography, mathematics, the sciences, foreign languages, and the arts. CBE, with a readership base of 3,000, advocates high academic standards and the promotion of a strong liberal arts education for all children in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools.
Council of Chief State School Officers
The Council of Chief State School Officers represents public officials who lead the departments responsible for elementary and secondary education in the states. CCSSO advocates legislative positions of the members and assists state agencies with their leadership capacity.
National Association of Elementary School Principals
Dedicated to educational excellence and high professional standards among K-8 educators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals serves 28,000 elementary and middle school principals in the United States and abroad.
National Association of Secondary School Principals
The National Association of Secondary School Principals is the nation’s largest organization of school administrators, representing 43,000 middle, junior, and senior high school principals and assistant principals. NASSP also administers the National Association of Student Activity Advisors, which represents 57,000 members, as well as the 22,000 chapters of the National Honor Society.
National Education Association
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 2.4 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support personnel, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.
The National PTA, representing 6.5 million members, is the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the United States. An organization of parents, educators, students, and other citizens active in their schools and communities, the PTA is a leader in reminding our nation of its obligations to children. Membership in the National PTA is open to anyone who is concerned with the health, education, and welfare of children and youth.
National School Board Association
The National School Board Association represents the nation’s 95,000 school board members through a federation of state associations and the school boards of the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NSBA’s mission is to foster excellence and equity in public education through school board leadership.
Supporting examples for Principle No.3
There is a demonstrated, direct correlation between improved SAT scores and time spent studying the arts. In 1997, The College Board reported that students with four years of study in the arts outscored students with no arts instruction by a combined total of 101 points on the verbal and mathematics portions of the SAT.
Statistically significant links are now being reported between music instruction and tested intelligence in preschool children. In one widely cited study (Neurological Research, Feb. 1997), after six months, students who had received keyboard instruction performed 34% higher on tests measuring temporal-spatial ability than did students without instruction. The findings indicated that music instruction enhances the same higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.
As numerous school-based programs have repeatedly reported around the country, study of the arts helps students think and integrate learning across traditional disciplinary lines. In the arts, they learn how to work cooperatively, pose and solve problems, and forge the vital link between individual (or group) effort and quality of result. These skills and attitudes, not incidentally, are vital for success in the 21st century workplace. Sequential arts education also contributes to building technological competencies. It imparts academic discipline and teaches such higher level thinking skills as analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating both personal experience and objective data. Finally, research findings indicate that arts education enhances students’ respect for the cultures, belief systems, and values of their fellow learners.
Consortium of National Arts Education Associations
c/o MENC: The National Association for Music Education
1806 Robert Fulton Drive
Reston, Virginia 20191 (703) 860-4000
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Religious Music in the School
It is the position of the Wisconsin Music Educators Association that the study of religious music is a vital and appropriate part of the total music experience in both performing and listening. The omission of sacred music from the repertoire or study of music would present an incorrect and incomplete concept of the comprehensive nature of the art form.
The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in the public schools; it prohibits the advancement or inhibition of religion by the state. A second clause in the First Amendment prohibits infringement of religious beliefs. Nor are the public schools required to delete from the curriculum all materials that may offend any religious sensitivity.
The following questions are relevant to the constitutional standards of religious neutrality necessary in the public schools.
- What is the purpose of the activity?
- Is the purpose secular in nature; for instance, studying music of a particular composer’s style or historical period?
- What is the primary effect of the activity?
- Is it the celebration of religion?
- Does the activity either enhance or inhibit religion?
- Does it invite confusion of thought or family objections?
- Does the activity involve an excessive entanglement with a religion or religious group, or between the schools and a religious organization?
Guidelines for Music Educators
Music educators should exercise good judgment in selecting sacred music for study and programming for public performances. During the planning phase of instruction or programming, the following questions should be considered by each teacher in determining if a program is acceptable.
- Is the music selected on the basis of its musical and educational value rather than its religious context?
- Are the traditions of different people shared and respected?
- Is the excessive use of sacred music, religious symbols or scenery, and performance in devotional settings avoided?
- Is the role of sacred music a neutral one, neither promoting nor inhibiting religious views?
- Are all local and school policies regarding religious holidays observed?
- Is there understanding of the various religious beliefs and sensitivities represented by the school-children and parents?
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Middle Grade Music
Adopted June 28, 1989
Middle grade educational practices have been in the throes of tumultuous change in the 1980’s. Movement away from the high school model and toward a student centered, exploratory curriculum has created what many have termed the Middle School Philosophy.” The resulting shift of educational priorities within this model has affected music education dramatically in many of our schools.
Recognizing this fact, the WISCONSIN SCHOOL MUSIC ASSOCIATION, after an extensive study of current state wide practices, acknowledges the following as their belief regarding what should be the status of music offerings in our Wisconsin middle schools and junior high schools.
- That general music experiences should be an integral part of every child’s middle grade experience on ALL grade levels. Schools which are not offering this option should closely examine schedules of schools that do.
- That performance opportunities in band, orchestra and chorus should be available as elective options to all middle grade students and that small group or individual lessons should be an integral part of each performance curriculum.
- That students enrolled in instrumental or choral music should have opportunity for both large group and small group instruction during the school day.
- That music curricula should be concept based and sequential and should include opportunities for creating and describing music, as well as performing music.
- That middle grade students should be allowed to experience performance in both vocal and instrumental groups.
- That performance music classes should meet regularly throughout the school year and not be subject to interruption from alternate exploratory options.
If education in the 21st century is to be the key ingredient in our survival as a free nation of creative thinkers and doers, it must indeed mean more than reading, writing and mathematics. Quality education means total education – which includes thinking, feeling, moving, singing, playing, dancing and creating. These also are basics.
Music is a fundamental mode of learning and expression. Students who are to possess the understanding and meanings which make music possible must be supplied with programs of instruction that allow this to develop.
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Secondary General Music
A Position Statement Adopted by the
Wisconsin School Music Association (June, 1990)
Wisconsin Music Educators Association (December, 1991)
(Revised, December, 1993)
A complete music program in the middle, junior or senior high school, intended to offer all students opportunity for music study, must include three basic types of music offerings: Choral Music, Instrumental Music, and General Music. As a category, general music can be unique in its primary purposes of refining the aural perception and musical curiosity of all students. As a part of a complete music program, general music offerings should be available without prerequisites for participation at all grade levels. Secondary level general music offerings should be designed to apply, extend and enrich the foundation of musical understandings, skills and attitudes provided by elementary general music experiences.
General music may be viewed as courses where the principal means of experiencing music are through a) listening, b) hands-on performing and creating, and c) relating to other art forms and history. Examples of offerings which may fit into the general music category include related arts, music appreciation, survey courses, electronic music, computer assisted instruction, the study of folk instruments, music in society, music technology, keyboard or guitar instruction, and ancient instruments.
Instruction may focus on some of the following:
- Making music alone and with others.
- Improvising and creating music.
- Using the vocabulary and notation of music.
- Responding to music aesthetically, intellectually, and emotionally.
- Becoming acquainted with a variety of music styles.
- Understanding the role music has and does play in our lives.
- Making aesthetic judgements based on critical listening and analysis rather than on stereotypes and/or prejudices.
- Developing a commitment to music learning.
- Supporting music in the community and encouraging others to do so.
- Continuing musical learning independently.
- Experiencing multicultural music
- Integrating music with other subject areas.
The expansion of general music offerings in the secondary school should be carried out without diminishing existing music offerings which focus upon music performance. The three types of music offerings (choral music, instrumental music, and general music) can be complementary if the inauguration of non-performance courses is approached carefully and imaginatively.
A new general music offering may require adjustments in staffing in order to provide instruction. Administrators and teachers need to be aware that there is a secondary general music certification which applies to teachers certified after 1982 in Wisconsin. Some teachers may need to upgrade their existing certification or request provisional certification in order to comply with state requirements. All music teachers have skills and knowledge which can be applied to the implementation of a middle or high school general music offering of some kind. It is recommended that the person responsible for teaching a new general music offering be identified soon enough to allow for involvement in the planning of the course design and content.
The offering of quality music courses is of little value if students cannot schedule them. Instructional time and scheduling for general music courses should be appropriate to the type of experience being offered and consistent with existing policies of the school. Depending on these factors, a general music offering may be daily, every other day, quarterly, semester long, or year long. In addition, some courses are more appropriately taught by more than one staff member. In order to meet state requirements, more than one high school general music offering will need to be designed. For instance, four different courses could be designed and one of them offered each year. This would allow students to elect a different offering each year. Or, another option would be to offer different levels of the same course so that students may progress through each level if they wish to do so. Independent study for small numbers of students is also possible. One way or another, interested students can be accommodated.
General music courses should be designed to meet the course credit criteria which are applied to other academic courses in the school. For those courses which meet these criteria, grade point and graduation credit comparable with other academic subjects should be given.
Listening based or related arts general music courses need to be provided with a high quality stereo system (record, tape or CD) as well as a budget for recorded music and other related materials. For hands-on performance or creative experiences, the school may need to purchase or lease instruments such as electronic keyboards, guitars, rhythm instruments, recorders, computer software, etc. Needed equipment can include a combination of school owned and privately owned(or leased) equipment.
For thousands of Wisconsin citizens, junior or senior high school may be their last opportunity for the study of music with a qualified music teacher. This makes it essential that all three types of basic music offerings: choral music, instrumental music, and general music be available to all students. Wisconsin school administrators and music teachers can work together to provide meaningful music learning opportunities for all students. The Wisconsin School Music Association will work to be a part of the effort to see that the third component of the basic music program, general music, becomes a part of the secondary school curriculum.
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