Show-Me State Lessons: 
National Core Arts Standards for the Independent Music Studio
Rachel D. Hahn, PhD, NCTM – University of Missouri, Columbia
Individual lesson instruction for school aged children has been a pillar of music education for decades. In the United States, so-called “private lessons” are often viewed as a valuable experience by parents, teachers, and students. However, in many communities, independent study is primarily a luxury or supplement to school general music and ensembles. Given this view of music outside the school, it comes as no surprise to independent music teachers that private lessons are sometimes under-prioritized by students and parents. 
When was the last time one of your students chose soccer practice or history homework over piano? If you’re about to vent frustration regarding your latest cancellation, take a breath and keep reading. I want to make it clear that I have nothing against soccer, history, or any other school activity. I also don’t have a problem with students pursuing these activities outside of school hours. Healthy growth and development require consistent practice and sometimes people need to prioritize other activities over music lessons. However, I believe that Missouri teachers can use the Show-Me state motto and a few national music education standards to help demonstrate the validity of our craft to parents, students, and the surrounding community. 
The National Core Arts Standards for Music Education (NCAS) were updated in 2014 and include flexible guidelines pertaining to the skills that should be developed in grades K-12. The existence of these standards has assisted educators in defending their curricular decisions and has also helped those outside of music to see this subject in the same light as math, science, and other core academic areas. Because of the NCAS, music teachers have successfully advocated for additional program support so that music learning is viewed as essential instead of merely supplemental. 
These national standards also provide an opportunity for independent music educators to evaluate their current studio practices and demonstrate the value of private lessons to students and parents. Created as a voluntary federal program written by practicing teachers and researchers, the NCAS guidelines provide a framework that emphasizes process over product. These guidelines were primarily intended for classroom use. However, the NCAS include 11 anchor standards (see below) that may be beneficial for independent teachers because they outline goals and purposes for creating, performing, responding to, and connecting with music. All teachers can benefit from using these anchor standards as a reflective tool to better understand how their actions impact student learning. In addition, the NCAS website offers a plethora of helpful tools for teachers, including lesson plans, assessments, and advocacy information. This article only scratches the surface of possibilities that independent teachers may glean from the NCAS.
When discussing the purposes and goals of private music lessons for children, many teachers focus on the development of technique, reading, and repertoire experience. These three topics are indeed important to ensure a solid foundation for future music learning, but they may not motivate a student or parent to prioritize piano lessons alongside homework or athletic events. Before you have another “show me” moment in your studio, try validating the worth of private lessons with these pre-existing national standards. Implementing the National Core Arts Standards for Music Education provides a framework and further inspiration through which independent studio music teachers might gauge their progress towards meeting the needs of all students. Reflective use of these standards can also assist teachers in facilitating comprehensive musicianship by connecting what is learned in the private lesson with what is learned in school music classes. The NCAS anchor standards do not promote or espouse one method of teaching over another, but rather are broad guidelines for high quality teaching based on the practices and research of experts in the field. Applying and referencing these standards should empower teachers to think beyond the method books, repertoire, and other materials, in order to focus on the steps and skills needed for all students to achieve lifelong music fluency. A lifetime of music proficiency is a powerful Show-Me state answer to validate the essential nature of the private music lesson.
NCAS Anchor Standards

Students will:
1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
3. Refine and complete artistic work. 
Students will:
4. Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. 
6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. 
Students will:
7. Perceive and analyze artistic work.
8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work. 
Students will:
10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
11. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding. 
Rachel D. Hahn, PhD, NCTM recently completed her doctorate in music education at the University of Missouri. An active performer, teacher, and researcher, her interests include community music outreach, piano and general music curricula, and classroom technologies. Beginning in June 2019, she will serve as the Associate Director of Music Education & Worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in St. Charles, Missouri.