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New music curriculum piloted in three US school districts

Almost 30 new curriculum units developed by the American National Association for Music Education (NAfME) are being tested in California, Kansas and Maryland in partnership with the Library of Congress

NAfME was one of 21 US organisations given three years of funding by the Library of Congress in 2016 to develop new teaching programmes using the library’s vast digitised archive of music audio, video and notation. Many of these digital resources subsequently proved so valuable during the distanced learning of lockdown that it gave the project new impetus and the Library has given a further two years of funding to extend the project.

The focus throughout has been on helping music teachers learn how to incorporate primary sources from the archive into the classroom across a variety of musical subjects and lesson structures.

In year one, two teams of teachers concentrated on general music and chorus, creating multiple lesson plans complying with the 2014 National Music Standards. The Responding Artistic Process chosen for the units utilises Library of Congress collections, the National Jukebox and other archival recordings.

Years two and three targeted responding as part of the performing and creating processes. The additional two years are still in process with the teams investigating the application of responding understandings to songwriting in middle school general music and for harmonising instruments. Once completed, NAfME will have provided curricular units across all National Music Standards strands.

The three school districts selected by NAfME, Bakersfield City School District, California, Wichita Public Schools, Kansas and Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland will be trying out new approaches to teaching general music, band, orchestra, chorus and high school music composition and theory.

Bakersfield, the latest district to join the project, will pilot an instructions unit for junior high and middle school choir for the 2021/2022 school year.

Many of the NAfME units are already available for download, free of charge, here.