Brianne Gidcumb | October 2015

Core Music Anchor Standard 9

Core Music Standard 9

This month, as part of our year-long series unpacking the Core Arts Standards for General Music, we will look at Core Music Anchor Standard 9. We’ve journeyed through the “responding” strand of standards, first focusing on the process of selecting and analyzing musical works and performances. Then, interpreting artistic intent. Today, we look at establishing and applying criteria when evaluating musical work.

Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

Artistic Process: Responding (Evaluate)

Enduring Understanding: The personal evaluation of musical work(s) and performance(s) is informed by analysis, interpretation, and established criteria.

Essential Question(s): How do we judge the quality of musical work(s) and performance(s)?

Big Ideas

This standard is unique because it doesn’t change a great deal as students progress throughout their years of general music education. Of course, the depth of student evaluation will increase as they gain knowledge and higher order thinking skills throughout their years of development. However, in summary, every grade level is expected to be able to talk about and apply personal and expressive preferences in music for specific purposes. They should apply established criteria to a musical work, citing from elements of music. 

Then and Now

The 1994 standards include “evaluating music and music performances” (Content Standard 7). This is present once again in the new Core Music Anchor Standard 9. The practice of developing criteria for the evaluation of music has always been present in the “best-practice” music classroom. The fact that the 1994 standard is present once again, in updated form, in the new Core Arts Standards should reaffirm our commitment to making the evaluation of musical performances a priority in the general music classroom.

Common Core Music Anchor Connections

In both the Common Core Music Anchor and the National Core Arts Standards, we are increasing the rigor of the content and the level of thinking in our students by putting great emphasis on the process of analyzing texts (both literary and artistic texts), and asking students to provide support for the observations and connections they make as well as the opinions they form. Students synthesize those observations to determine the purpose of a piece of text (expressive intent).


Anchor Standards for Reading: As with most of our anchor standards for music, if we treat a piece of music as “text,” we can apply every one of the Anchor Standards for Reading to the process of evaluating musical selection. Anchor Standard 7 is a particularly nice alignment: “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.” Just as students evaluate a piece of written text, they should be able to evaluate non-print texts, including musical works. (See my Teachers Pay Teachers store for a $1.00 downloadable “ELA Standards at a Glance” graphic!)

Practices and Processes

In looking at the Standards for Mathematical Practice, there are a number of connections in how students might walk through the process of establishing and applying criteria to a work. They might “reason abstractly and quantitatively” (Standard for Mathematical Practice 2). They may “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” (Practice 3). They may “look for a make use of structure,” (Practice 7) or “look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning” (Practice 8).

In the Next Generation Science Standards, Science and Engineering Practice 8 emphasizes the importance of “obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.” As music educators, we can draw connections between the processes of artists and musicians and the processes of mathematicians and scientists by highlighting these similar practices- it only takes a little intentional planning and an awareness of other content areas! (See my Science Standards and Math Standards “At-a-Glance” resources!)

What practices do you have in place to encourage students to evaluate artistic work?

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: