C&I

Curriculum and Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is music a required subject for students in the K-12 public schools of NYS?

Yes, the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Part 100 specify that public school students are to receive music instruction in grades PreK-K (CR 100.3(a)), grades one through six (CR 100.3(b)), and over grades seven and eight (CR 100.4). Additionally, students in grades nine through twelve must have the opportunity to complete units of credit in music to satisfy Regents diploma requirements and to complete Regents sequences in Music or Fine Arts. For more details see the Arts Summary.

2. Does music instruction in the public schools have to be provided by a certified educator?

Yes, students must receive instruction from a certified teacher. Teachers certified in music hold a special subject certificate which is valid in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grades 1-12. A teacher of the common branch subjects may teach music as one of the common branch subjects in the early elementary and upper elementary grades so long as the teaching of music is not the primary subject being taught but rather one of the common branch subjects taught in the course of the daily instructional program. See the NYSED Office of Teaching Initiatives website for details on certification requirements.

3. Are there NYS Standards for Music instruction?

Yes, music is one of the four disciplines included in the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts. The Learning Standards for the Arts were adopted by the Board of Regents in July of 1996 and codified into Commissioner's Regulations Section 100.1(t)(1)(v) in September of 1999.

4. What is included in the document entitled Learning Standards for the Arts?

The Learning Standards for the Arts specify expectations for student achievement in music as well as dance, theatre and visual arts. The standards are outlined in the developmental levels of Elementary (up to and including grade 4), Intermediate (Grades 5-8), and Commencement (Grades 9-12). The Commencement level expectations are further divided into General Education (Grade 9 or completing one unit of credit) and Major Sequence (Grades 9-12 or completing three or five units of credit). In addition to standards, key ideas, and performance indicators the Arts Standards document includes sample tasks and samples of student work.

5. What is the high school graduation requirement in music?

Students first entering grade nine in 2001 and thereafter must successfully complete one unit of credit in the Arts (dance, music, theatre or visual arts) as part of Regents diploma requirements (100.5(b)(7)(iv)(e). State-developed or State-approved high school music courses taught by a certified music teacher may be used to satisfy the diploma requirement, as part of a sequence, and/or for elective credit.

6. Can any music course be used to satisfy the Arts requirement for a Regents diploma?

No, only those courses which have been State developed or State approved may be used to satisfy the Arts diploma requirement in music. State-developed courses in music include Music in Our Lives, Band, Chorus, Orchestra, Music Theory and Comprehensive Foundations of Music. Curricular requirements for these courses may be found in Department publications such as Music in Our Lives and Music in the High School. These documents may be ordered through the Publications Sales Desk (518) 474-3806. See the Arts/Music Publications listing at for pricing and ordering information.

7. Are Music Sequences still an option for high school students?

Yes, public schools must offer students the opportunity to begin an approved sequence in the arts (music, visual arts, theatre, dance) in grade nine (CR 100.2 (h)). High school students who first enter grade 9 in 2001 and thereafter are no longer required to complete sequences as part of Regents diploma requirements. However, all students must be given the opportunity to complete music sequences which may be used to fulfill diploma requirements. Additionally, students pursuing a Regents diploma with advanced designation and who complete a five-unit sequence in the arts (visual arts, music, dance and theatre) are not required to complete the additional two units of a language other than English (CR 100.5 (b)(7)(v)(c)). For further information on approved arts sequences see pages 11-14 and 19-20 of the Arts Summary.

8. What is the status of K-12 music instruction in New York State?

According to information taken from the Basic Educational Data System in NYS, a high number of students, 1,990,311 and a significant number of teachers, 7,623, participated in K-12 music instruction in the 2001-2002 school year. These numbers represent some of the highest levels over the past twenty-five years. For more information on these trends see the Music Education Data summary.

9. What is the purpose of the New York State High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessment in music?

The purpose of the New York State High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessments in music is to determine the extent to which individual students achieve the knowledge and skills specified in the Learning Standards for the Arts at the Commencement General Education Level.

10. When will the New York State High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessment (Music) be mandated?

There is no plan to make the Music (Arts) Assessment a State required examination. The test(s) when finalized are for voluntary use by local school districts.

11. What is on the New York State High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessment (Music)?

A range of music items including multiple choice, constructed response, performance event and performance/portfolio tasks. Sample items, scoring guides and proposed contents (e.g. draft structure, assessment standards percentages, etc.) can be found in the High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessment Test Sample Draft April 2001.

12. When will the New York State High School (Grade 9) Arts Assessment (Music) be available?

The music assessment results as well as those in dance, theatre and visual arts are being statistically analyzed. Pending positive results, the assessments will undergo standard setting and be readied for voluntary implementation.

13. Are there other State Assessment models in music?

Yes, there are State developed model assessments in music but only for Music Theory and Comprehensive Foundations of Music. State developed Guidelines for Preparation of Final Examinations for Music in Our Lives and Studio in Art are also available from the Office of Curriculum and Instruction.

Back to top

Last Updated: April 29, 2011