Posted on 03/18/2012 at 08:09 PM by Global Reach


Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance Model


Key Points: Outcomes, Music Selection, Analysis, Strategies, and Assessment


Planning Instruction


Using the Points of the CMP Model

Instructional planning based on the curriculum document is the work of the individual teacher, and CMP is especially effective at this level. There are basically five parts of the CMP model through which teachers plan, prepare and present materials, and assess student work: Outcomes, Music Selection, Analysis, Strategies, and Assessment. The following is a brief explanation of how using the CMP model enhances the process of planning and teaching the standards.


The individual teacher determines the Outcomes of the last two levels of the curriculum mentioned at the beginning: the instructional projects and the daily rehearsals. The outcomes of instructional projects typically focus on several standards selected by the teacher as appropriate for the students’ abilities and understandings; are quite specific; and have a definite time frame. Ideally, the students will be involved in determining these learning targets. Finally, even more immediate in focus and specificity are the outcomes of each rehearsal, which must have clear connections with the project and the standards.


Having determined the project’s outcomes, the teacher proceeds to another point of the model to choose the curricular content – the music – to achieve those outcomes. In a standards-based CMP setting, Music Selection is aligned with those outcomes or targets selected as appropriate for the project and for the students’ abilities. Guiding questions in selecting music might be: Does the composition have good teaching opportunities for the standards and other outcomes selected for this project? What does it teach? Is it appropriate for these students? Does it have musical value? Other points to consider are its historical/cultural context and connections to the other arts and other disciplines.


The next logical step in planning is Analysis of the music. Analysis in the CMP model goes beyond the typical score analysis to include points such as the compositional devices used, how the elements of music are utilized, what makes it a quality piece, what the heart of the piece is, etc. Students can and should participate in the analysis. All these considerations lead naturally into the next point of the model – teaching strategies.


Strategies refer to the ways in which teachers can facilitate learning. Since motivation is a vital element in learning, it is important for teachers to devise instructional techniques that both enhance student motivation and coincide with how students learn best. The extended section that follows is a description of motivational factors and of teaching strategies that utilize them.


The nature of the learning tasks can be a significant source of motivation. Students respond quite differently to tasks that are authentic “real-life” tasks – those that adults confront and that have importance beyond the classroom (e.g., performances for other classes, concerts, etc.) – than to tasks obviously constructed for grading. Further, motivational research has shown that students respond positively to tasks that are challenging but within their abilities and that have relevance to them. Also, creative tasks which provide the student a degree of freedom in their resolution (e.g., performances, compositions, improvisations, etc.) can be a source of personal pride and intrinsic motivation. To maximize motivation, then, teachers should develop tasks that are authentic, challenging, creative, and relevant.

Instructional/assessment strategies that make use of the three following inborn factors universally present in all humans also foster student motivation.

  • an urge to learn
  • a desire to grow up (fast!)
  • a need to have greater control of one’s life

These are survival instincts, born of eons of evolution in a hostile world in which those who matured quickly and had acquired the will and wit to learn about and control their environment or accommodate to it held a survival advantage.


The following are instructional strategies (adapted from the PROPEL** model) that make use of these motivational pathways of learning.

  • Students construct knowledge. Teaching students to memorize and recall facts and definitions of concepts does not constitute understanding. Such direct instruction can be appropriate, however, if students are led to use it as a first step in the process of constructing understanding: analyzing, organizing, manipulating, and applying the facts or the concept’s constituent bits of data.
  • Students should confront open-ended questions and tasks just as professionals do, such as composing, interpreting a piece of music, or critiquing their own performance. These can be both relevant and authentic tasks when done in the context of preparing for performance (a la CMP).
  • Students learn most efficiently through a mix of closely structured activities (e.g., learning skills of performance, improvising with only two tones, etc.) and relatively unstructured ones in which they apply such earlier understandings. Through this approach the teacher can develop projects and tasks that are challenging to the individual or group but are still do-able.
  • Research and teacher practice has shown that humans learn best when they produce, perceive, and reflect, with the reflection providing input for the enhancement of both the process and product. This natural “learning loop” aligns perfectly with the CMP principle of “performance with understanding” and embodies several of the motivational factors described above. A creative activity in which one produces (creates) something – a performance, composition, or improvisation – not only is an important learning experience but also is a strong motivator. When the student’s perception and opinions about the product (reflection) are both sought and respected by the teacher, the student’s self-value is affirmed, and the innate itch to learn is enhanced. And when such self-assessment practices are used in preparing a piece for performance, the task will be both relevant and authentic (i.e., not just for a grade).
  • The various aspects of doing music – performing, creating, and responding (analyzing and evaluating) require in-depth work over time. Therefore, an excellent teaching strategy is the project-based learning described above in which students address authentic tasks that require them to apply their knowledge and skills and analyze and evaluate their work on an ongoing basis. And involving students in determining the project’s learning targets/criteria and the rubrics that describe the levels of proficiency helps lead them to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Also, when students can revise and improve earlier work and see their present achievement in the context of where they were and perhaps where they might go next, it is both a learning experience and a further motivation to assume an active role in their own learning. A portfolio containing all of a student’s work is an effective vehicle for this, as well as authentic evidence and communication of the students’ achievements and progress to home and the larger community.


The final point of the model, Assessment, ideally should be used 1) primarily as a means of support for the students’ efforts to enhance their learning; and 2) as information to enable teachers to facilitate students’ effort more efficiently. When self- and teacher-assessment are used in an ongoing way to improve competence (embedded assessment) instead of an end-of-unit occasion to prove competence, the patterns of both the teacher’s and students’ behavior, cognition, and affect are profoundly different. In such a supportive climate, students tend to take risks beyond the safe response and develop and use higher-order and transferable thinking skills. They are also generally more positive, prefer challenge, focus on improving their competence, and tend to invest the necessary time and effort to accomplish mastery. And when students help determine the criteria of the projects and the proficiency levels, as suggested above, self-assessment abilities (Standards F & G) can develop naturally, with (and this is very important) teachers giving supportive<em> feedback on the students’ self-critiques. This will make unnecessary a fourth question often associated with trips - “Are we there yet?” Good assessment, therefore, will look like good instruction, and, indeed, should be an episode of instruction/learning. Thus embedded in instruction, such assessments will forward the goal of CMP – “Performance with Understanding” – and make unnecessary and irrelevant the “gotcha” form of assessment so beloved of those who are convinced that more tests and harder punishments for failure are all that are needed to improve education.




*CMP, Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance, is a model developed in Wisconsin in 1977 for teaching musical understandings in the performance class. For details contact WMEA, 1005 Quinn Drive, Waunakee, WI 53597, or WMEA.

**Arts PROPEL is an instructional/assessment model developed by Harvard Project Zero that stresses students’ active engagement in their own learning. For details contact Project Zero.

***SCASS-Arts was a consortium of several states that developed performance and selected assessment tasks in the four arts areas. For information contact Council of Chief State School Officers, One Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001-1431 or SCASS.

Adapted from the September 2000 issue of the Wisconsin School Musician and used with permission.

For questions about this information, contact
Rebecca Vail (608) 266-2364

Last updated on 3/7/2011 1:38:20 PM




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