It’s that time of year — time to pull out my Trick-or-Treat! rhythm game! During the weeks leading up to Halloween, I like to use my Trick-or-Treat rhythm game at pretty much every student’s lesson. It’s a fun way to make students “earn” their treat, and it’s such a great game for building their rhythm skills. Best of all, they LOVE this game!Continue reading “Getting out my Trick-or-Treat rhythm game!”
In recent conversations with a couple of piano teachers, I was asked there is a review available here on my blog about Music Play, a book I like to draw from for movement and ear/audiation activities with my young daughter and my piano students. Look no further, friends — here’s my full review!Continue reading “Review: “Music Play” Early Childhood Music Curriculum by Edwin E. Gordon et al.”
In my last post, I mentioned I am delivering a presentation for NCKP 2021’s Virtual Conference tomorrow. My presentation shares about a personal research project conducting early childhood music (ECM) activities with my daughter throughout her first year of life. It’s been fun and rewarding to see Aria’s musical development up close, and I am learning so much from the process. I have hundreds of videos I’ve been collecting, logging, and analyzing!
I thought it might be fun to share a video of Aria here on my blog, for my readers as well as for any NCKP conference attendees interested in seeing a more recent video clip. The video below was taken a few days ago, with Aria at 17 months old.
The ECM activities I do with Aria are based on Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I took a two-week summer certification training Early Childhood Music Level 1 offered through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (see GIML.org) back in 2017, and have been putting my training to good use since Aria was born in February of 2020. I took the Piano Level 1 certification the summer prior to that, which I blogged about here.
Here is the video, as well as a short description of what you’ll observe in the video.Continue reading “Early Childhood Music with my 17mo Daughter”
Hello, readers! Summer is gone, and we’re now into the groove of the new school year. My last blog post shared the details of my recent Piano Teacher Retreat, held August 1-3, 2019. The rest of August went like a blur, due to a variety of travel. Here’s a little bit of a catch-up post!
NCKP 2019: July 24-27
Backing up just a step… The week before the retreat, I attended NCKP 2019. It was a phenomenal conference, as always!
I attended so many great sessions. My favorite was a session given by Louis Svard, presenting on “The Musical World of Infants: What It Can Tell Us About How Children Actually Learn Music.” She has a blog called The Musician’s Brain you can check out here.
I had the privilege of presenting two sessions during NCKP, both on Wednesday as part of the Pre-Conference Seminars. First, I gave a session for the Wellness Track called “Lessons for Piano Teachers from the Alexander Technique.” In this session, I share my experience as a student of the Alexander Technique and how taking AT lessons has impacted me as a musician and piano teacher.
Later that afternoon, I also presented one of my favorite talks: “Piano Method Mining: Gems from Past and Present.” In this session, I provide a survey of piano methods from past to present, highlighting the ones consider most notable and still useful today. The room was full, and I received such wonderful feedback afterwards!Continue reading “Summer 2019: NCKP, South Shore Piano Camp, OregonMTA, and More”
This was definitely a highlight of my summer — hosting a third annual Piano Teacher Retreat! This involved three days and fourteen teachers exploring this year’s theme: rhythm and Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our shared three days of discussing, learning, laughing, and musicking. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend this time with this wonderful group of teachers.
The event was held at my home in Bowling Green, Ohio, August 1-3, 2019. Nine of us stayed overnight here in my home, while the other five were hosted at my colleagues’ homes nearby.
These ladies arrived with coordinating black-and-white, and red-white-and-blue! 🙂
We began our first day by breaking out into small groups to research some introductory information about Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory.Continue reading “2019 Piano Teacher Retreat Highlights”
Over the past few of years, I’ve been reading my way through a handful of the dozens of books written by Dr. Edwin E. Gordon (1927-2015), thinker extraordinaire in the realm of music learning theory. Although I found his writing style requires some getting-used-to — due partly to the necessity of learning the terminology he uses — I have found it extremely worthwhile to do so as I strive to incorporate aspects of his Music Learning Theory (MLT) into my practice as a piano teacher.
In this article, I’d like to present a list of the Gordon books I’ve read so far, accompanied by brief descriptions what each book addresses. My hope is that this article will provide useful recommendations for those interested in Gordon’s MLT and wondering which of his book(s) to read first. For this reason, the books are listed in order by how highly I would recommend them to someone new to Gordon’s writings. Each review below includes a link to where the book can be purchased from GIA Publications or Amazon. As I read more of Gordon’s books, I plan to add more descriptions to this list.
Before I begin, I’d like to preface by saying that there is a book about MLT that was not authored by Gordon that I would recommend reading before reading Gordon’s books. That book is Eric Bluestine’s The Ways Children Learn Music (GIA Publications | Amazon). Bluestine’s book offers an excellent, friendly primer of the premises of MLT and the shortcomings of conventional music education. I consider it a must-read for any music teacher. Read my full review of Eric’s book here.
Now, let’s get on to discussing Gordon’s books!
Discovering Music from the Inside Out: An Autobiography – Revised edition, by Edwin E. Gordon
Published in 2006 and revised in 2014, Gordon’s autobiography is a wonderful read. It tells the story of his early life growing up as a boy, his careers as a working musician (including playing bass for the Gene Krupa Band), and his work as a professor and researcher. The book sheds light on the circumstances that prompted Gordon to examine the way music is conventionally taught, the nature of music aptitude, and how we learn music.
This book was fun to read, and I consider it a great starting point for anyone even mildly interested in Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Bottom line: If you are interested in music education and you enjoy autobiographies, I would recommend this book to you.
I first encountered music learning theory as an undergraduate student in September of 2008, when Hope College (Holland, Michigan) hosted Dr. Edwin E. Gordon (1927-2015) for a five-day visit. I was fascinated by everything Gordon had to say and have carried his influence with me as I went on to complete a Masters degree and start an independent piano studio in following years. In the summers of 2016 and 2017 respectively, I completed the Piano certification and Early Childhood Music certification offered by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (see GIML.org). The implications of Gordon’s work regarding how we can best teach music resonates with me, and so I continue to familiarize myself with his research and writings.
Music learning theory is a relatively new subject area within academia gaining increasing recognition and respect in recent decades. While music education and early childhood music communities currently are largely familiar with the concept, piano teachers as a whole are mostly unfamiliar with music learning theory.
To those new to music learning theory, its name might suggest that it is systematic way to teach music theory. In fact, music learning theory has little to do with music theory; nor is it a curriculum.
To those who happen to hold a strong association between the term “music learning theory” and Edwin E. Gordon, the term might seem synonymous with Gordon’s work. The subject area, however, is larger than one individual’s work — no matter how great his or her contributions. Gordon’s own Music Learning Theory (MLT) exists within the larger subject area known as music learning theory.
I’d like to make some clarifications about the subject of music learning theory. In this short article, I will define the subject of music learning theory and discuss possible benefits for piano teachers who choose to familiarize themselves with music learning theory.
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 literacy involves more than being able to read and write music notation.”
“All learning begins with the ear, not the eye, and learning music, of course, is no exception.”
— Edwin Gordon
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”
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?