Music Therapy Common Core State Standards | Coast Music Therapy Blog

Music Therapy and Common Core State Standards

The majority of states in the U.S. have now adopted the Common Core State Standards as a basis for students’ knowledge. Because goals for students in special education typically align with general education standards, we’ll share how music therapy and Common Core State Standards relate.

As we work regularly with over 300 students, providing IEP-based music therapy services we continue to adapt to the updated standards used as a basis for many IEP goals. In California, the Common Core State Standards have been adopted, and in San Diego County, we are seeing more integration of these standards within IEP goals. 

As defined by the Common Core State Standards Initiative:

“The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school.”

As a collaborative support for IEP goals, we have found that music therapy can most functionally support Common Core State Standards for grades K-2.  Standards within this age range are less complex and abstract, making techniques such as music mnemonics for rote memorization a relevant means to teach these skills.

While music can be used as a cue, prompt, or technique to teach an IEP-related skill, it does not have to be specifically written into an IEP goal.  In many cases, the music therapist may be added as ‘Persons Responsible” for the goals that music therapy will address.

However, if music will be the primary cue in teaching a particular skill, it can be referenced within an objective or goal.  One way of doing this is by including music within the ‘condition’ of an IEP goal/objective. 

As defined by The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities,

“Conditions specify the circumstances that prompt the child’s performance of an observable behavior. Conditions are dependent on the behavior being measured and involve the application of skills or knowledge.”

  • When presented with 2nd grade level text…
  • Given a mixed 4th grade level math calculation probe….
  • Given a story prompt and 30 minutes to write…

Conditions may also integrate a related service:

  • Given appropriate equipment……..
  • Given assistive technology……..
  • Given a pencil grip……….

Using this format of music as a ‘condition’ within an IEP goal, we’ve included three examples of how music therapy integrates with specific Common Core State Standards.  You’ll find the Common Core Standard in bold and the music condition in italics.

Example 1: English Language Arts (Reading: Literature) Kindergarten

Music Therapy Common Core Goal Example 1 | Coast Music Therapy

Example 2: Mathematics (Number & Operations) Grade 2

Music Therapy Common Core Goal Example 2 | Coast Music Therapy

Example 3: English Language Arts (Speaking & Listening) Grade 1

Music Therapy Common Core Goal Example 3 | Coast Music Therapy


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