Music Learning Theory

New Facebook Group: Edwin E. Gordon and MLT for Piano Teachers

Just a quick note today to let you know about a brand new Facebook group intended for piano teachers who are interested in learning more about Music Learning Theory (MLT) and explore how they can incorporate it into their teaching. Any teacher interested in MLT is welcome to join! The group is called “Edwin E. Gordon and Music Learning Theory for Piano Teachers.” The group is moderated by a few MLT piano teachers including Marilyn Lowe, the author of the Music Moves For Piano method.

If you’d like to join, visit the group here and then click the “Join Group” button to request to join the group.

Hope to see you inside the group!

Music Learning Theory

What is Audiation, Exactly?

Have you heard of “audiation” before, but perhaps weren’t exactly sure what it meant? Have you wondered: why do we need this new word? Why should audiation matter to us as musicians and music educators?

Audiation isn’t an idea that is going away anytime soon. We are going to continue hearing more about audiation within music education circles. As the term “audiation” is becoming more widely known and increasingly used, it would benefit us to ensure that we have a clear and accurate understanding of the term.

Why did Edwin Gordon coin the term “audiation”? 

The term “audiation” was coined around 1976 by music professor, researcher, theorist, and author Dr. Edwin Gordon (1927-2015). Audiation is the central focus of a collection of theories about how music is learned, known as Music Learning Theory (MLT).

Audiation refers to a mental process that is both a natural and integral part of music making — and has been since the beginning of time — but has gone unnamed (at least, in the English language) until Gordon came along.

There is power to naming something. Giving something a name means acknowledging it. Continue reading “What is Audiation, Exactly?”

Music Learning Theory

YouTube: Music as a Language by Victor Wooten

I recently came across this video by musician Victor Wooten on YouTube and thought to myself: the ideas expressed here fit very well with MLT (Music Learning Theory)!

Below are my favorite points from this video, along with some of my own commentary regarding the agreement with MLT.

1. Music is in many ways like a language. Think about the way you learned to speak as a child. 

MLT practitioners find it very useful to compare the process of language acquisition to music acquisition. It’s not a perfect comparison (as with any analogy), but I have personally found it to be an incredibly useful analogy to keep in mind as a piano teacher.

2. Imagine children being allowed to speak only with those at their same speaking level. It would stunt their progress compared to being allowed to interact with more experienced speakers such as their parents. It’s the same with music: it’s helpful for students to jam along with professionals. 

This is a good reminder to play often alongside our students, whether it’s informal duet-playing during lessons or preparation for a performance. And to have our students play together. And consider other ways we can provide opportunities for students to experience playing alongside professional musicians.

This is related to the reason why I like combining multiple ages/levels among my students at our monthly group classes, “Piano Parties.” Students already have individual lesson time instruction customized to their age and level, so why not combine levels for monthly group classes? They can learn so much from interacting with and watching each other. It’s about creating opportunity for the less experienced students to learn from the more experienced, and more experienced students to model for and mentor the less experienced. Continue reading “YouTube: Music as a Language by Victor Wooten”

Music Learning Theory, Teaching Piano

Piano Teachers as Music Educators

We’ve accomplished so much in the realm piano pedagogy over the decades. So many fine teachers, fine books, and fine pedagogical piano literature.

The music education community can tout similar advancements, and yet we piano teachers tend to know so little of them. We know little of the theories and recent research regarding music learning, and of the approaches music educators use in the school systems. Does anyone else find it odd?

There seems to be a certain degree of separation between the worlds of piano pedagogy and music education. We don’t interact much. We took separate courses while in college. We have separate professional organizations.

Do we piano pedagogues consider ourselves under the same umbrella as music educators?

Continue reading “Piano Teachers as Music Educators”

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Learning Theory

Group Class Ventures with Music Learning Theory (MLT)

Since taking the Piano Certification Course through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) last August, I have been slowly but surely working towards integrating Music Learning Theory (MLT) principles into my teaching approach.

Much of this integration is subtle at this point and yet, it is having a definite impact on my students.

I’ve also had the opportunity to experiment more directly with an MLT-based teaching approach in a couple of new group music classes I’ve been offering over the past few months.

The first opportunity arose when one of my piano parents asked if I might consider doing some kind of group music class with her two piano students as well as three of her other children who take lessons in guitar, flute, and violin. She was interested in her kids receiving additional help with rhythm, theory, and more, to support their private lessons. I told her more about the GIML training I received and how I felt it would be ideal for her kids and that I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment more with this approach. So, now I’m teaching a weekly 30-minute group music class (not geared towards piano playing) with 5 siblings between the ages of 7 and 12. Afterwards, I give the two piano students their private lessons.

The second opportunity arose when a local violin teacher reached out to me asking about lessons for her 4-year-old son. Ultimately, we settled on having a weekly 30-minute group class with her son as well as her two other young children. The five of us are exploring music together using the Music Play early childhood music curriculum as the basis.

So far with both classes, I’ve been loosely following the lesson plan outline that Marilyn Lowe suggests in her Keyboard Games (KG) books (see image below). I’m pulling songs and rhythm chants from her KG books, Music Play, and the ECMC Songs and Chants Without Words, Book One.

Continue reading “Group Class Ventures with Music Learning Theory (MLT)”

Music Learning Theory, Professional Development

Joy and Amy Talk About Music Learning Theory

Greetings!

Back from our Boston trip for GIML training, Amy and I thought it would be fun and constructive to have a conversation to debrief, and at the same time create a video to share, about Music Learning Theory (MLT).

Here’s what is covered in our video:

  • 3:00 Who was Edwin Gordon.
  • 9:45 Who is Marilyn Lowe.
  • 13:25 What is audiation and how is it developed.
  • 22:00 How we each plan to start incorporating elements of MLT into our lessons.
  • 25:45 What resources are available for teachers who want to learn more about MLT.

Books mentioned in the video:

Just for kicks, here’s one more video. Amy and I had a bit of fun in the car on the drive back home from Boston playing the alphabet car game using MLT terms that we learned during the course. :)

Update: Read What Is Audiation, Exactly?

Music Learning Theory, Professional Development

2016 GIML Training (3): Wrap-Up Post

[See previous post: 2015 GIML Training (2): A Great First Week]

On Saturday, I returned from a fruitful and enjoyable two-week stay in Brookline, Massachusetts, receiving Piano Certification training through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning. I am still processing everything I learned, but am excited to begin sharing about the experience with you all.

As I mentioned in the last post, we were in class from 9:00am-4:30pm each day. It was like being back in school!

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Our teachers for this course were Marilyn Lowe, Jennifer Fisher, and intern Janna Olson.

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Marilyn is the author of the Music Moves for Piano method, the only piano method to-date that is based on Edwin Gordon’s work.

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We spent class time listening to lectures, discussing learning theories, and participating in movement and singing activities.

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In the evenings, we studied and read from Dr. Gordon’s tome, “Learning Sequences in Music.” Eating cannoli made the studying even sweeter.

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Each day, we were assigned to compose a melody in a particular mode (major, harmonic minor, dorian, phrygian, etc.). The following day, we shared our melodies with the group.

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Between the two weeks of training, we found time to explore Boston.

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Here we are exploring the Harvard campus in Cambridge.

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And here is a group of us enjoying dinner at a classmate’s home nearby. (Thanks for hosting, Rachel!)

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Here I am with Marilyn, after receiving certification.

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And here I am with my travel buddy, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com.

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By the way, Amy and I used Airbnb.com to find a place to stay during the course. This was our first experience using Airbnb, and I can happily say it was a positive one. We stayed in a third story of an old Victorian home. Our apartment was absolutely perfect for us. I definitely intend to use airbnb for future trips. (Want to check it out? Use this link to receive a $30 travel credit.)

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Here is a group photo of our entire class.

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In upcoming weeks and months, I look forward to incorporating what I learned into my teaching. Stay tuned for more on this.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the blog post that Amy just posted with her own summary of our experience in Boston.

Happy weekend, friends!

Update: Read more about Music Learning Theory (MLT) here

Conferences, improving as a teacher, Music Learning Theory

2016 GIML Training (2): A Great First Week

[See previous post: 2015 GIML Training (1): The Adventure Begins]

I’ve had a great first week in Boston for the Piano Certification Course training sponsored by the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML).

Here is a photo of Amy and I standing in front of Brookline Music School, which is hosting the training.

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Continue reading “2016 GIML Training (2): A Great First Week”

Conferences, Music Learning Theory, Professional Development

2016 GIML Training (1): The Adventure Begins

edwin gordonToday, an adventure begins: I am heading to Boston for two weeks to receive training in the Piano Certification Course sponsored by the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML). The training is being given by Marilyn Lowe, author of the Music Moves For Piano method, and Jennifer Fisher.

This trip is possible thanks to an MTNA Teacher Enrichment Grant. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you might know that I am a huge fan of Edwin Gordon’s work. Having the opportunity to experience this training means a great deal to me.

My adventure buddy is Amy Chaplin (of PianoPantry.com). We are driving well over 10 hours today from our respective homes in Indiana and Ohio.


I definitely plan to blog about our experience, but I am unsure whether I will keep up with blogging during the trip or if I’ll catch up after I return. However, I will definitely be posting some tidbits throughout the two weeks on Instagram or Facebook.

Interesting in learning more about Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT)? Check out this blog post or Tim Topham’s podcast episode with Marilyn Lowe.

[See next post: 2016 GIML Training (2): A Great First Week]