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Edwin E. Gordon September 27, 1927 - December 2, 2015


On the morning of December 4, 2015, the Mich- igan music education community lost a teacher, mentor, and friend. Edwin E. Gordon passed away in Fort Dodge, IA after battling with leu- kemia. His energy, brilliance, wry sense of hu- mor, passion for learning, and delight in chil- dren will be missed by all who knew him.


Life and Achievements


Cynthia Crump Taggart


Edwin Gordon was an internationally recog- nized scholar and teacher who specialized in the psychology of music. He developed Music Learning Theory, which was identified by the Music Educators Journal (Shehan, 1986) as one of the five major approaches to music educa- tion, alongside the approaches of Orff, Kodàly, Dalcroze, and Suzuki. Dr. Gordon wrote more than 50 books, hundreds of research articles, and many published tests of music aptitude and achievement, and his work often was featured in the media, including the New York Times and The Today Show (Edwin Elias Gordon Obitu- ary, 2015). His work serves as the basis for or- ganizations in the U.S. (the Gordon Institute for Music Learning) as well as in eight other coun- tries.


Dr. Gordon grew up in Stamford, CT, where as a boy he worked in his family’s awning busi- ness. When he was 15, he began to study bass, and after graduating from high school, he joined the army and was made a member of the 302nd Band. When he left the service, he attended Eastman School of Music to study bass, but he left Eastman and went on the road as the bass- ist in the Gene Krupa band in 1949 for a year before returning to Eastman to complete his performance degree. After graduating, he went to New York City where he gigged and studied with Philip Sklar, principal bassist in the NBC Symphony Orchestra with Toscanini. Sklar be- came one of the most important persons in Dr. Gordon’s life, both musically and personally (Gordon, 2014). He taught him that hearing where the piece will end is essential, no mat- ter where you are in the music at the moment,


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and that it is the space between the beats rather than the beats themselves that matter (Gordon, 2014). These concepts became important parts of Music Learning Theory.


Because of Sklar,


Gordon attended Ohio University to earn an- other masters degree in education and teaching certification.


Dr. Gordon’s teaching career began upon gradu- ation from Ohio University. He accepted a po- sition teaching high school music in Toledo and playing principal bass of the Toledo Symphony on the side.


As he taught, he was frustrated


by how little he knew about music learning, so he decided to seek additional education and was accepted to the PhD program in Music Educa- tion at the University of Iowa, which is where he spent the next 16 years (Gordon, 2014). It was there that Gordon met Albert Hieronymus who wrote the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and be- came another of his important mentors (Gordon, 2014). It was Hieronymus who taught Gordon about educational measurement and who put him on the road to developing his standardized tests of music aptitude as well as the Iowa Test of Music Literacy. Upon graduation, he was immediately hired there as an assistant profes- sor, and it was at the University of Iowa that he developed the beginnings of Music Learning Theory.


In 1972, Dr. Gordon left Iowa and went to the University of Buffalo to teach. In Buffalo, he more fully developed Music Learning Theory and published the Primary Measures of Mu- sic Audiation. He also met and married Carol Goodridge Beccue, who was his beloved wife until her death in 2014 (Carol Gordon, 2014). Dr. Gordon viewed his years in Buffalo as the height of his research productivity (2014), and this productivity drew the attention of Temple University, which successfully recruited him to its faculty in 1979 (Edwin E. Gordon, 2015).


At Temple University, he established a nation- ally renowned doctoral program that has placed graduates in faculty positions all over the world.


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