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He also established his Sugarloaf Seminars, which were sum- mer workshops in which he taught the theories and practical applications of Music Learning Theory.


was receiving international recognition for his work and was traveling extensively to lecture. At Temple University, he received the Lindbach Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1987 and the Great Teacher Award in 1989 (Gordon, 2014). He also was inducted into the MENC Hall of Fame in 1996. The focus of his work at Temple University became early childhood music learning, and it was there that he devel- oped his theories of preparatory audiation. For many years he taught children ages birth through three every Tuesday morning at the Temple University Center City Music Prep Early Childhood Music Program. He retired from Temple University in 1997.


Edwin Gordon’s “retirement” was rich and active. During his retirement, he joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina, where he continued to engage in research. He also spent two years in a part-time faculty position at Michigan State University. In addition to traveling around the world presenting lectures and teaching, he spent every summer teaching professional development workshops for the Gordon Institute for Music Learning, including those at Michigan State University every summer from 1997 to 2011. During this time, he also developed another passion that had begun in Philadelphia: wood carving and mixed me- dia art. In fact, the Department of Art at Columbia College presented an entire show of his work.


Following the death of his wife in 2014, Dr. Gordon moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa to be nearer his three daughters Jaime, Pam, and Carrie. The National Association for Music Edu- cation made him a 2015 Lowell Mason Fellow, one of music education’s highest honors, in November, just prior to his death the following month (National Association for Music Education, 2015). He was 88.


Fundamental Beliefs about Music Learning


An article about Edwin E. Gordon would not be complete without sharing some of the fundamental precepts underly- ing the theories that he developed. Following are some ideas that might be considered the most central to his work.


1. Music is learned like a language is learned. Although this is a simple statement, it has powerful implications for music teaching. First, it pinpoints when music learning be- gins. Language learning begins at birth or even before, as the sense of hearing is fully functional near the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy (Mayo Clinic, 2016). In ute- ro, a child can hear speech and music, and once a child can hear, the learning of speech and music begins. With that in mind, developmentally appropriate music education should


begin as early as possible. By this time, he


Another way in which music and language learning are similar is that the richer the learning environment, the better the learning. Developmental psychologists have found that children who are surrounded by rich language vocabularies develop larger vocabularies and read and write sooner than children with less rich environments (Moerk, 2000). Like- wise, children with immersion in rich musical environments from the beginning of their lives will develop more musical skills and typically will develop those skills more quickly (Valerio, et al, 1998). Therefore, in Music Learning Theory, from the very beginning children hear and engage with a rich musical vocabulary including a wide range of musics and many different tonalities and meters.


As with language, music should be experienced aurally and orally before it is experienced visually. Only once children have heard language and are speaking with fluency should they be formally taught to read and write. With language, children only learn to read the word “cat” after they have heard the word spoken, know what a cat is, and are able to use the word in their own speech. In Music Learning The- ory, children read music by recognizing in notation musical patterns that they have already heard, performed, and given musical meaning.


2. Audiation is central to music learning (Gordon, 2012). Gordon (2012) states, “Sound itself is not music. Sound be- comes music through audiation, when, as with language, we translate sounds in our mind and give them meaning” (p. 3). The placing of music into a syntactical structure is what differentiates performance driven by audiation from imita- tion. “When audiating, the meaning one gives music is de- termined by placing and interpreting what one is audiating in a musical context, which allows one to give the music intrinsic meaning and even allows the musician to predict what might come next in the music” (Taggart, 2016, p. 186).


The two most important contexts in music are tonality and meter. Because audiation of tonality is important to music learning, from the beginning of instruction children experi- ence the entire diatonic pitch set rather than beginning with pentatonic.


Pentatonic tonal systems are missing the half


steps, which point strongly to the tonic. Without these, chil- dren will have difficulty hearing “home.” Rhythmically, children need to experience not only beat but multiple levels of beat, and the way the levels of beat are superimposed upon one another determines meter. Much more about audiation and how to develop it can be found in Learning Sequences in Music: Skill, Content, and Patterns, which is Gordon’s definitive text (Gordon, 2012).


3. Whereas words are the basic building blocks of language, tonal and rhythm patterns are the basic building blocks


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