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Family and Community Guide for Secondary Music

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for students studying high school music. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

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Where can I learn more?


Music (adopted 2022)

The music standards in the secondary years are differentiated for skill development: Novice, Intermediate, Proficient, and Accomplished. These levels allow for individualized placement to provide rigorous and appropriate musical experiences for students at any grade level, middle school through high school. Participants will experience music through expression (performance and refinement), creation of music, music theory, and response to music (appreciate and understand).

Music Skills Appendix: 

The Music Skills Appendix provides context and support for the varied levels of learning across a secondary (middle school and high school) music learning experience. Access the Music Skills Appendix to learn more. 

Expectations for Students Completing Novice through Accomplished Coursework: 

  • Expression of Music (Perform/Present): Perform accurately and expressively making interpretive and creative choices; incorporating practice and refinement processes to develop independent musicianship.
  • Creation of Music (Create): Explore ways to create original rhythmic and melodic phrases of music through creating (composing), inventing (improvisation), and revising (arranging) existing music using current and traditional technology.
  • Theory of Music (Know/Comprehend): Apply knowledge about the language of music (music notation) by reading, performing, listening, and describing music appropriate to an instrument or voice part; apply understanding of meter (time signature), clef (pitches) for their voice or instrument, expressive elements (loud/quiet, fast/slow, connected notes/separated notes), and chord analysis.
  • Response to Music (Appreciate and Understand): Interpret and describe musical responses and performances from a variety of styles, genres, and diverse cultures using music terminology and criteria; explain the reasoning for personal preferences and how music is used in society and culture across time.

Throughout Novice through Accomplished Coursework, You May Find Students:

  • Singing or playing various instruments (e.g. stringed/orchestral, brass or woodwind/band, percussion, guitar, piano, electronic instruments) while exploring different musical styles; responding to a leader or conductor when applicable.
  • Planning and practicing for improvement of technique and skills.
  • Creating, writing, inventing (improvising), and revising (arranging) rhythmic and melodic phrases.
  • Demonstrating comprehension of the language of music by reading, writing (music notation), listening to, and describing the components (analyzing) music.
  • Analyzing/evaluating their own musical performances based on a set of self-developed criteria incorporating specific music terminology; connecting music to culture, history, and society as well as their own emotions and lived experiences.​