Category Archives: Featured Projects

Morrison Elementary School (Norwalk, CA)

Download School Project Reports: 2008 (Core Narrative; Music Teacher’s Report; Classroom Teacher’s Report)

Download School Research Report: 2010 revision, 2009 [25 MB print-ready PDF]

View School Project Digital Portfolio: 2006

Project Background:

High needs, low-achieving school in Norwalk, CA invests in Music Plus Music Integration practices and becomes a High Performing Title I school.  From 2005-2006, school sets out to make explicit connections between music learning and literacy skill development.  Students work with a teaching artist and a classroom teacher to score a piece of literature from the core curriculum and reflect on their Five Processes in music learning.  In 2007, the school begins to explore how music learning can enhance social-emotional development, which in turn can lead to improved student learning in all content areas. Joined the Consortium in 2005.

Partnership Organizations:

Music Center of Los Angeles County (MCLA)
New England Conservatory (NEC)
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)

Key elements:

Music Learning and Language Learning: Students engage in Music PLUS Music Integration program that features diverse instrumental performance programs, including strings, steel drums, dulcimers combined with singing, improvisation, composition, and reflective writing, and that focuses on math and language literacy concepts and processes shared with fundamental skills in music reading, composition and performance. Students who engage in Music Center residencies in music perform significantly higher in music literacy skill assessments, and those students who score highest in the Music Literacy Skill Test also demonstrate significantly higher association with academic achievement in math and language.  These findings provide evidence that music literacy skill development is an important indicator of cognitive development that may reinforce or catalyze success in academic performance; these finding also suggest how musical cognitive development can be used as an intervention with academically low-achieving students.

Norwalk/Morrison Steel Pan Band: Music teacher’s efforts to create an evolving multi-age steel pan band achieves a high level of music proficiency, demonstrates the value of sustained partnership, and enhances social-emotional values among students through the group ethic and mentorship.

Using Dulcimer Instruction for Music Integration: Classroom teacher uses her own interest in the dulcimer to fuel students’ natural curiosity for learning.  Features examples of integration with music and language arts (story orchestra), social studies, and math.  Sessions and on-line forums with professional musicians create music growth as well as more opportunities for literacy.

Related Links:

Ramsey International Fine Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN)

Download School Project Reports: 2007 (JMIE), 2009
View School Project Digital Portfolios:
2006, 2007, 2009 (2nd Grade; 4th Grade; Arts Learning Leadership; M+MI)

Project Background:

K-8 school with a long history of arts learning in a large urban school district embraces Music Plus Music Integration research practices as a strategic priority for school professional development and enhanced student leaning in music and in all disciplines. Joined the Consortium in 2005. 

Partnership Organizations:


Arts for Academic Achievement (AAA)
Learning Through Music Consulting Group (LTMCG), 2005-2009
New England Conservatory (NEC)
University of Minnesota School of Music (UMN)
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)


Key Elements:

4th Grade Opera Project: A year-long integrated project in which students create and perform an original opera based on the life of a chosen Nobel Peace Prize laureate from their social studies curriculum.  All 105 4th graders are involved in all aspects of the opera:  developing the story; composing the music; writing the libretto; choreographing the movement; designing and creating the sets, props and costumes; advertising and performing the opera; and critiquing the opera.  Students develop an authentic sense of ownership regarding both the process and the product.  The 4th grade teachers collaborate with the Fine Arts coordinator/choreographer, the general music teacher, the strings teachers, the Spanish Fine Arts Teacher, special education teachers, the visual art teacher, teaching artists, Learning Through Music consultants, and a group of music education interns from the University of Minnesota.  This opera-centered project results in improved student knowledge about:  music in general (and opera, in particular); language and music literacy skills (including composition); and the relationship of each to academic performance.

Reading to the Beat: An MIE language arts intervention for students who haven’t mastered high frequency sight words   Students participate in a drum circle to change the social dynamic and then perform words with rhythm sticks to embody word recognition.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice Project: Investigation of content and form of poetry through their connection to music, math, and language arts.

Pachelbel’s Music Matrix and Coordinate Systems: Exploration of fundamental concepts such as order, sequence, and pattern shared between reading representations of musical patterns in Pachelbel’s Canon and analyzing coordinate systems in 4th grade math.

Music Circle: The music circle project, team-taught by the classroom teacher and a music teaching artist, addresses the need for increased time on task through an understanding of musical concepts and uses these to develop a social/emotional vocabulary relevant to the context of the classroom and peer interactions.  Students learn to use the language of the musical concepts to identify and explain social situations, behavior, and classroom expectations. Teachers can then use this new vocabulary with their students to address behavioral expectations and classroom climate. At the end of the year, students perform for parents, teachers, and their peers a skit that shows the meaning of the word. Students participating in music circle are making strong gains in the externalizing and socializing behaviors.

Pre-post Assessments show correlation between music reading and academic achievement, with increasing strength over time.

Related Links:

Green Oaks Academy (East Palo Alto, CA)

Download School Project Report: 2009

Project Background:

School with at-risk population and English language Learning needs and no music program begins (1) to establish music as a core academic subject and as a springboard to other academic subjects; (2) to form collaborative partnerships with classroom teachers, administrators, and artists; (3) to design and implement engaging, integrated music curricula that support student achievement and learning in all academic areas; (4) to document student learning to provide evidence of learning across academic subject areas; and (5) to maintain the Instrumental Music Program in Grades 4-5. Joined the Consortium in 2008.

Partnership Organizations:

Music in Schools Today (MuST)
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)
New England Conservatory (NEC)

Key Elements:

Music and Language Literacy:  “Storytelling Through Song”: In an eight-week unit, students learn to read, identify, create, perform, analyze and write down various rhythms as they explore the theme of a Storytelling Unit.  Students create their 8-beat rhythm patterns, or soundscapes, to be performed in Readers Theater along with the text A Story A Story by Mary Ellen Pense.  Classroom teachers use the rhythm patterns students learned each week to practice their fluency and high frequency words.  Results demonstrate how learning rhythm patterns increases students’ fluency in both music and reading.

Professional Development: As a by-product, the project becomes a case study of how to introduce MIENC principles and models to someone who is not familiar with the process and to create a curriculum as a part of scale-out.

El Dorado Elementary School (San Francisco, CA)

Download School Project Reports: 2008, 2009

View School Project Digital Portfolios: 2007, 2008 (2nd grade; 3rd grade),  2009

Project Background:

Underserved and economically disadvantaged school community with little district supported arts instruction and no comprehensive arts education strategy forms partnership with MILE program, MuST, and the MIENC LLSN Network and creates a viable music integration program. Joined the Consortium in 2005.

Partnership Organizations:

Music in Schools Today (MuST)
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)
New England Conservatory (NEC)

Key Elements:

Pilot Program:  Music integrated with Life Science curriculum:  Students study tempo and dynamics and animal life cycles; pre- and post tests and artifacts show modest gains in achievement.

Partnership dynamics and professional development: Site investigates how to create music-integrated curriculum and build basic research capacity; summer Institute helps teaching artists and classroom teachers to understand the importance of thinking collaboratively and beginning with questions, developing a line of inquiry, assessment strategies, etc.

Mentoring, Professional Development Exchange with Thornhill: Schools host site visits and share successes and challenges.

Year 2 in-school scale-out: K-5 sequential music program; research program expands to 2nd and 3rd grade.

Integration Focus Shifts to Music and Relation to Language Arts: Students create a musical theater piece based on a folk tale.  Researchers examine (1) how students can better understand syllabication and the meaning of words through music and how students can better understand rhythm through language and (2) how music can help students identify elements of a story (i.e. characters, setting, problem/solution, main idea) and how language arts can help students understand musical form and make compositional choices (about tempo, dynamics, and instrumentation when composing/improvising a “narrative” piece of music).

Music and the Science of Physics: The Science of Music Project investigates the explicit connections between music and the physical sciences.  Students who are led through a series of seven musical experiments tied into the Science FOSS curriculum show enhanced ability to (1) perform, create, and listen to music with an understanding of how these processes related to energy and matter and (2) identify, compose, and perform music that supports the curriculum objectives of the California State Science Standards. 

Success in community building and social-emotional development, as well as professional development.

Related Links:

Thornhill Elementary School (Oakland, CA)

Download School Project Reports:  2008, 2009 (multiple; see below)

View School Project Digital Portfolios: 2007, 2008, 2009

Project Background:

Isolated school with limited music-teaching capacity forms partnerships (with MILE and MIENC LLSN Network) that leads to ever-deeper and richer music-integrated curriculum implementation, professional development, community building, social-emotional learning, and assessment practices. Early products are visible community-wide, and school faculty becomes energized. School commits to pre- and post assessment rubrics, forms useful professional development exchange with local school, and becomes a scale-out hub in the area. Joined the Consortium in 2005.

Partnership Organizations:

Music in Schools Today (MuST)
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)
New England Conservatory (NEC)

Key Elements:

Musical Theater: An important visible beginning for music-integration at the school—continues the following year and extends to other grades. Student-created musical theatre pieces on the Gold Rush and Global Warming demonstrate enhanced learning in music and language literacy and an increased understanding of the historical and scientific topics researched

School Sing-A-Long: An important visible attempt to build community and social-emotional development through music

Music Circle: A K-2 curriculum that teaches character values and social-emotional vocabulary through music produces some telling evidence of student learning documented through the students’ journals and the teachers’ observations.

The Jazz and Democracy Project: Effective use of music to teach grade 4-5 social studies curriculum with which students were having difficulty. Students become more engaged and enthusiastic about their learning, develop a firm understanding of jazz, performance, improvisation, and increase their capacity to work in groups through enhanced communication and compromise.

Student and Teacher Transformation: Investment in Music Plus Music Integration professional development increases interaction, morale, and sense of purpose and reveals hidden skills among the faculty and students.

Professional Development Exchange with El Dorado Elementary: Schools host site visits and share successes and challenges.

School Project Reports for ’08-’09