Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Why TEKS Matters for Music
Are you a teacher of music in the state of Texas? If so, then you know that you are required to meet the demands of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. These rigorous standards give you guidelines for what students are expected to know at the end of each grade level. TEKS can help you plan and organize your instruction and figure out how to sequence your curriculum across different grade levels. It is important to remember that TEKS is not there to tell you how to teach, but rather how to keep your curriculum consistent and continuous over the course of students' education. This lesson will give you some ideas of how you can plan your curriculum to align with TEKS, all the while maintaining your freedom to teach music in a way that makes sense to you and works for your specific student population.
In the elementary grades, the music standards focus on four basic strands:
- Foundations and music literacy
- Creative expression
- Historical and cultural relevance
- Critical evaluation and response
While you can find the specific requirements for each elementary grade level for free online, it is important to think about what these four categories mean for how you can plan your curriculum.
One way to map out your year is to divide it into quadrants. Spend one quarter of the year focusing on each domain of music instruction, regardless of which grade you are working with. For instance, spend the first part of the year focusing on music literacy. You can teach your students about different instruments, music theory, and reading and writing music, at levels appropriate for each age and to students' interest. The second part of the year can focus on creative expression, with more opportunities for students of all ages to sing and experiment with instruments, including expressing their thoughts and feelings through music. The third part of the year can be dedicated to the history of music and learning about music from a variety of different cultures, and in the last part of the year, students can listen to the music produced and written by others and learn about what it means to be a critical listener.
TEKS for music in middle school begins slightly more complicated, in that some schools will have students taking music for all three years of middle school, while other schools will allow students to alternate among music, theater, and other fine arts. You will need to adjust your planning accordingly, since there are some students who you will only teach for one year of their middle school experience.
As in elementary school, the middle school music standards are divided into four domains. Rather than organizing your year by domains, however, at this slightly more sophisticated level you might do better to begin by clearly defining what you want your students to know in accordance with TEKS by the middle and by the end of the year. As you plan each lesson, try working backwards, thinking about all of the building blocks your adolescent students will need to meet the standards you are working with.
In high school, TEKS makes opportunities for some very sophisticated musical work. High school students in Texas might have their music instruction in band, choir, orchestra, jazz ensembles, improvisation groups, or specific instrumental lessons including piano, guitar and harp. High school music instruction will also involve more incorporation of technology and a deeper awareness of diverse musical traditions. When you plan your high school music curriculum, begin by thinking of how you can make sure that knowledge from each of the four domains delineated by TEKS can be incorporated regardless of the specific musical modality that each student is pursuing. Essentially, you want to make sure that all of your students are having an opportunity to listen to music, read and write music, perform music, and study music from different times and places.
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