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Wisconsin Standards for Music


Introducing the Wisconsin Standards for Music 

We are pleased to introduce this new set of music standards. The Wisconsin Standards for Music has been adopted by the Wisconsin State Superintendent for school districts to consider in their work with music education programs. 

Standards Documents

Music Standards
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Wisconsin Standards for Music provides a foundational framework that identifies what students should know and be able to do in music. Here is a full set which includes the standard strands - General Music and Performance Music. Wisconsin Standards for Music - Full Set. Desktop Poster 11"X17"
I CAN Image
I CAN...
I CAN Statements - Download these copies onto your desktop. The I CAN statements are aligned to the Wisconsin Standards for Music and allow for edits within the document to create classroom, student friendly posters. There are slight variations between the grade bands for formatting to show multiple versions. Feel free to adjust the format to support your classroom. 
General Music K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Performance Music K-2, 3-5, 6-8. 9-12


General Music

The General Music strand provides a conceptual base for your use in the general music classroom for grades K-12. Use this strand for those formal non-performance classes which may include, but are not limited to: "General Music," theory, music composition and improvisation, history, harmonizing instruments, and music technology.

Performance Music

The Performance Music strand provides conceptual based indicators with objectives for onstage student music experiences. Consider using this strand for music courses which may include, but are not limited to: bands, choirs, orchestras, ethnic ensembles, jazz groups, solo work, and other ensembles using instruments and/or vocal groups through performance.

Educator Learning Modules

Participate in these modules to investigate additional ways to implement the standards in your arts classroom. Here are the links to each module for Music, along with newsletter issues which provide more resources for your use.

                CREATE                 PERFORM                            RESPOND                            CONNECT


Learn more about the Wisconsin Standards for Music.
Music Education in Wisconsin
DPI Logo

The goal of Wisconsin music education is to introduce the analytical elements and aesthetic expressive qualities of music to all students. The standards aim to build students’ skills and knowledge through experiential musical activities using the artistic processes of creating, performing, responding, and connecting. These artistic processes and activities aim to provide a foundational set of skills and knowledge for students to make them college and career ready. Wisconsin’s vision for K-12th grade music influences the newly adopted standards and aims to:

  • Introduce the fundamental concepts and aesthetic aspects of music to all students, beginning in the elementary school levels;

  • Present music at the secondary level that expands exploration through more performance opportunities and engagement of the art form;

  • Offer additional secondary-level music experiences that will allow interested students to study music in depth and prepare them for entry into a career or college;

  • Offer opportunities for students to demonstrate their musical knowledge and skills through the artistic processes of: Create, Perform, Respond, and Connect; and

  • Increase the knowledge of music for all students through investigating various aspects of music across time and cultures.

Components of the Standards

Wisconsin Standards for Music - Full ; General Music Strand K-12; Performance Music Strand K-12

Here are some things to look for in these standards:

  1. The Wisconsin Standards for Music focus on the artistic processes of Create, Perform, Respond, and Connect. These are inspired by the National Core Arts Standards (2014). 

  2. The Wisconsin Standards for Music are organized by grade bands: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This allows for some flexibility in instruction and greater differentiation for the support of students over time. All levels identify proficient for the older grade level in that band. 

  3. There are four music standards identified for grades kindergarten through 12. These conceptual ideas take into consideration the current Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Music (1997) and the National Core Arts Standards (2014), as well as other state examples reviewed by the writing team.

  4. Performance indicators allow for flexibility for educators and school communities to identify more specific elements through their own curricular development. 

Music Strands - The two strands differentiated within the standards are defined as General Music and Performance Music.

Standard Components
Standards Structure






Standards Structure

Standard: Broad statement that tells what students are expected to know or be able to do.

Artistic Process: Breaks down the broad statement into manageable learning pieces.

Performance Indicator by grade band: Measurable degree to which a standard has been developed or met.       

Grade Bands - K - 2nd (Elementary), 3rd - 5th (Intermediate), 6th - 8th (Middle School), and 9th - 12th (High School)

Note: As Wisconsin continues to update our existing Wisconsin Academic Standards, additional crosswalk documents and resources will be created.
Welcome to the Toolbox. There are multiple resources populated within the folder topics listed below. Check back to this site often to see what new ideas have been added. If you have a resource you would like to share with the field, please either contact Chris Gleason, Art and Creativity Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, or become a curator for the WISELearn Educator Portal .
Wisconsin Standards for Music Review and Revision Process

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a transparent and comprehensive process for reviewing and revising academic standards. The process involves the wide gathering of ideas from multiple persons including music teachers, administrators, parents, business professionals, music industry and service organizations, and leaders from across the state. The process is outlined within the standards review/revision process  link.

The Music Writing Team started their review in April 2017 and worked throughout the spring and summer of 2017. The team reviewed survey feedback, the current Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Music Education (1997), and other music standards examples including the National Core Arts Standards for Music (2014). Another part of the process included the public release of a draft with an accompanying survey to gather feedback from the public, key stakeholders, and educators, and a set of public hearings. This feedback further informed the writing committee in their work. The following links provide more information about this process.

The final draft of the Wisconsin Standards for Music was presented to the SSSRC on September 18, 2017. The SSSRC approved the draft submitted by the Music Writing Committee and State Superintendent Evers approved the Wisconsin Standards for Music in November 2017.

2017 State Superintendent’s Music Standards Writing Committee

This work is made possible through the efforts of a dedicated team of educators, administrators, higher education staff, and music industry professionals. The Wisconsin Standards for Music was shaped by this team’s expertise and generous nature, with the goal of creating a tool that could be used by fellow educators, parents, community members, and the learners in their care, to build skills and knowledge in music. Members of the writing committee donated numerous hours and shared their expertise in the development of the music standards document. These members include:

2017 State Superintendent's Music Standards Writing Committee


  • Marie Northup, Maine Elementary School, Wausau School District
  • Michael Van Pelt, Riverside University High School, Milwaukee Public Schools


  • Kevin Erickson, Kettle Moraine High School, Kettle Moraine School District
  • Nancy Fairchild, Platteville High School, Platteville Public Schools, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • Jody Gawron, Red Creek Elementary School and Forrest Street Early Learning Center, School District of Black River Falls
  • Shawn Gudmunsen, St. Croix Falls High School, St. Croix Falls School District
  • Brandi Hawley, Robinson Elementary School, School District of Beloit
  • Leslie Hill, Walker Middle School, Sturgeon Bay Schools
  • Cathy Houchin, Webster Elementary School, Watertown Unified School District
  • Christine Hulmer, Ashland High School, School District of Ashland
  • Michelle Kaebisch, Oregon High School, Oregon School District
  • Craig Pynenberg, Hillcrest Primary School, Shawano School District
  • Brad Stoughton, Fall Creek High School, Fall Creek School District

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) facilitator:

  • Julie Palkowski, WI DPI Fine Arts and Creativity Education Consultant
Standards Writing Team Resources

The primary resources used in developing the Wisconsin Standards for Music were the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Music (1997) and the National Core Arts Standards in Music (2014). These resources, along with several other state standards sets, have been the inspiration for the newly adopted state voluntary standards.

Also considered for comparison:

Wisconsin Implementation Plans

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI DPI) will be updating the resources on this page to support districts in learning about and implementing the music standards. WI DPI supports a three-year implementation for districts to ensure appropriate time to fully implement the music standards into the curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Implementation Plan

District Teams - As Wisconsin school districts begin to implement the Wisconsin Standards for Music, they are encouraged to consider the overall needs of the students in their care. It is essential that the school community discusses the delivery of the standards through a thoughtful alignment of instruction, learning, and assessment. Other factors to support this work will include planned professional learning to build educator and learner capacity of the key music concepts. The use of collaborative leadership teams provides a solid start in ensuring proper planning and budgeting to support high-quality learning experiences that focus on access for all students. The principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and equitable learning opportunities for all students are a central focus of the team. In addition, districts are encouraged to leverage the Wisconsin Standards for Music to implement instructional support systems that align with the local Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


For questions about this information, contact Christopher Gleason (608) 264.9554