Brianne Gidcumb | June 2015

Core Music Anchor Standard 4

Reviewing Core Music Anchor Standard 4

This month, as part of our year-long series unpacking the Core Arts Standards for General Music, we will be looking at Core Music Standard 4. Here, we start our journey into standards for performing, which is a process in itself. Throughout the performance strand of standards, we guide students through selecting, analyzing, interpreting, rehearsing, evaluating, refining, and finally presenting musical works.

Anchor Standard 4:

Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

Artistic Process: Performing (Select)

Enduring Understanding: Performers’ interest in and knowledge of musical works, understanding of their own technical skill, and the context for a performance influence the selection of repertoire.

Essential Question(s): How do performers select repertoire?

Big Ideas

The fourth anchor standard focuses on how musicians select a piece of music for performance and how a performer personally relates to the piece. Students are expected to be able to discuss their preference for and interest in a piece of music. They should be able to demonstrate their knowledge about the context of and technical elements in a musical selection. Students should be able to describe of how the selection of a piece of music is informed and influenced by the performer’s preference and skill, and students are expected to apply that knowledge of their own preference, technical skill, challenges, etc. to their own selection of musical repertoire for performance.

 Then and Now

The National Core Standards for general music recognize that performance is a process. The essential questions and enduring understandings help shape the purpose of these standards and give them relevance. While the 1994 standards included some of the same basic concepts in terms of listening to, analyzing, and describing music (standard 6), these new standards ask students to apply that knowledge and ability to music that they themselves will perform. While many music educators had these practices in place prior to the release of the National Core Arts Standards, these standards can serve as a means to help us organize the process for students and provide a framework for assessment.

Common Core Connections

As with all of our standards for the arts, there are many natural connections we can make to the Common Core standards depending on the content being explored, but as we look at the processes and anchor standards of these various contents, here are a few naturally aligning standards.


Speaking and Listening 1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.  Because of the objective nature of many of the grade-level content standards under Core Music Anchor Standard 4, this is a natural place to look for alignments and even to help guide assessment. Many of the grade-level standards include verbs such as discuss, explain, state, and describe. This entire anchor standard is based on speaking and listening, a great place to integrate music and ELA!

Language 3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning and style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.  We can make connections between music and this ELA standard in the sense in which it was written, in using language to describe, discuss, and explain selection of musical repertoire, or we can interpret “language” in a musical context, applying knowledge of elements of music to understand their function in different contexts, to make effective choices in the selection of repertoire. Your interpretation of this connection might depend on whether you are a music teacher integrating ELA into the music classroom or vice versa, but regardless, the connection exists!


Standard for Mathematical Practice 5: Use appropriate tools strategically. The very heart of Music Anchor Standard 4 is selecting a piece of music for performance based on preference, skill, context, and challenges- basically, choosing a piece of music with the appropriate tools. The process of selecting tools that will lead to a successful outcome and persevering through challenges to solve problems is inherent in these aligning standards.

What practices do you have in place in your music classroom to guide students in the selection of repertoire?

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: