Brianne Gidcumb | March 2015

Core Music Anchor Standard 2

This month, as part of our year-long series unpacking the Core Arts Standards for General Music, we will be looking at Core Music Anchor Standard 2.

Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Artistic Process: Creating (Plan and make)

Enduring Understanding: Musicians’ creative choices are influenced by their expertise, context, and expressive intent.

Essential Question(s): How do musicians make creative decisions?

Big Ideas

This second standard is focused on the choices a student makes to express musical ideas. Common verbs throughout grade-level content standards for Standard 2 are demonstrate, choose, select, organize, combine, and sequence. Rather than throwing together musical ideas, students must demonstrate reasons for their musical ideas, and express their intent. Additionally, the grade-level content standards ask that students use standard or iconic notation or recording technology to express their rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, or structural musical ideas.

Then and Now

While the first Core Music Anchor Standard was closely aligned to the 1994 National Arts Standards for Music, this second standard is slightly more rigorous in that it asks students to justify their choices in the creation of their musical ideas. Although standards for composing and arranging music were present in the 1994 standards, the practice of demonstrating reasoning was not explicitly outlined, and although this practice may have been present in various general music classrooms, it is now an expectation.

While this is not an unreasonable expectation, it is one that requires time, which is something all teachers, and especially arts teachers, know is at a premium. However, when we ask our students to articulate their choices and express their intent in the generation of their musical ideas, we allow them to take ownership of their ideas and their learning, and we elevate them from being one who simply arranges musical ideas to one who generates and composes musical ideas.

Have students write “composer statements” or reflections based on composition experiences, or simply allow them to have a “turn-and-talk” opportunity whenever generating their own ideas. Taking this small amount of extra time gives children opportunity to employ critical-thinking skills, to unlock their creativity, and to communicate with and through music.

Common Core Connections

With a little creativity, we can make many natural connections to Common Core Music Anchor Standards using this theme of “demonstrating reasoning” and “expressing intent.” Here are a few:


Writing 2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effect selection, organization, and analysis of content.

The process of generating a musical idea through composition is aligned with the process of writing a text in that a student must make intentional, effective choices in intent, organization, and content. Making this connection explicit will engage a student’s critical-thinking skills as they generate ideas in any content area.

Reading 4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Similarly, in addition to making explicit connections between to generating text and musical ideas, students should understand the connection to the process of analyzing an author’s craft and structure. Through these aligned processes, a student composer gains insight into what it means to make intentional choices, express intent, and demonstrate reasoning, whether the text is written, visual, musical, or other.


Standard for Mathematical Practice 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

Just as mathematically proficient students reason with quantities and their relationships to situations, musically proficient students must reason with the elements of music to express their ideas, related to a situation, purpose, or intent, and express those ideas with standard or iconic notation. Musically proficient students can manipulate the elements of music to achieve a desired purpose.

Standard for Mathematical Practice 6: Attend to precision.

Finally, just as mathematically proficient students can communicate precisely to others, use clear definitions, state the meaning of chosen symbols, and are careful about the conventions they employ, musically proficient students must do likewise. In order to achieve a desired purpose, as defined by their own reasoning, they must use carefully selected musical elements and communicate these elements precisely through notation.

How have you implemented Core Music Anchor Standard 2 in your arts classroom?

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: