Gordon Music Learning Theor

Music Learning Theory is an explanation of how we learn when we learn music. Based on an extensive body of research and practical field testing by Edwin E. Gordon and others, Music Learning Theory focuses on the teaching of audiation, Gordon’s term for hearing music in the mind with understanding. Teaching methods help music teachers establish sequential curricular objectives in accord with their own teaching styles and beliefs. The primary objective is development of students’ tonal and rhythm audiation. Through audiation students are able to draw greater meaning from the music they listen to, perform, improvise, and compose.”

  • Audiation. To hear and comprehend music in the mind, audiation is the foundation of musicianship. Music Learning Theory tells music teachers the best way to develop students’ tonal and rhythm audiation.
  • Music Aptitude. Music learning is enhanced when teachers know students’ potential to achieve in music and teach systematically to individual differences.
  • Methodology. Students build their audiation skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before being introduced to notation and music theory.
  • Learning Sequence Activities. The “parts” part of the Whole/Part/Whole curriculum, learning sequence activities are where students learn to audiate the tonal and rhythm patterns that make up music literature.
  • Classroom Activities. Carefully thought out guidelines help the teacher best coordinate learning sequence activities with classroom activities.
  • Early Childhood. A child’s early experiences with music have a profound impact on future musical development.
  • Specific Applications to Music Instruction. Methods, techniques, and materials for implementing Music Learning Theory principles in various music teaching settings.
  • Types and Stages of Audiation

“Music is unique to humans. Like the other arts, music is as basic as language to human development and existence. Through music a child gains insights into herself, into others, and into life itself. Perhaps most important, she is better able to develop and sustain her imagination. Without music, life would be bleak. Because a day does not pass without a child’s hearing or participating in some music, it is to a child’s advantage to understand music as thoroughly as she can. As a result, as she becomes older she will learn to appreciate, to listen to, and to partake in music that she herself believes to be good. Because of such cultural awareness, her life will have more meaning for her.” (From Gordon, Edwin E. A Music Learning Theory for Newborn and Young Children. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1990, pp. 2-3.)

Untying Gordian Knots: a paper by Professor Gordon.


About Music Learning Theory. (2012, May 25). http://giml.org/mlt/about/
Edwin E. Gordon. (2016, April 21). http://giml.org/gordon/



The Tanglewood Symposium

What is the Project?

The Tanglewood Symposium Project (1967) is a program sponsored by the Music Educators National Conference. The focus was a ten-day symposium held in Lenox, Mass. It was a mass conference of music educators, sociologists, scientists, labor leaders, and representatives to discuss pertinent issues related to the subject. The findings and recommendations would then be presented to the presidents of the State Music Educators Associations.

What are the purposes of the Project?

Long-term, it was meant to assist teachers of every level and manner. It meant to make teachers aware of and able to assimilate/accommodate the ever-changing aspects of society. A statement was prepared for the planning of the Project that covered education in the mainstream of concerns, technology and science advancement, and government changes. As well, the statement mentioned fine arts being relegated to being extra-curricular or an elective when offered. The Project sought to push music into the center of education and not just an ornament of society using its cultural history, humanistic study, and aesthetic education as reinforcement.



Choate, R. A. (1967). Music in American Society: The MENC Tanglewood Symposium Project. Music Educators Journal, 53(7), 38. doi:10.2307/3391019



Research: What induces a consistent internalization of tempo and rhythm?

Research Title: “We teach to make music with our sound, but not with our bodies.”

Toiviainen, P., Luck, G., & Thompson, M. R. (2010). EMBODIED METER: HIERARCHICAL EIGENMODES IN MUSIC-INDUCED MOVEMENT. Music Perception, 28(1), 59-70. Retrieved from https://libcatalog.atu.edu:443/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/751310896?accountid=8364

Petri Toivianinen, Geoff Luck, and Marc R. Thompson’s article, “Embodied Meter: Hierarchical Eigenmodes In Music-induced Movement” (2010), asserts that we may use our bodily movements to help parse the metric structure of music.
  • Study to investigate pulsations on different metrical levels
  • Mediolateral )side to side) arm movements were found to be frequently synchronized with the tactus (beat) level pulse
  • Rotation and lateral flexion of the upper torso were found to exhibit periods od two and four beats, respectively
  • Some evidence to suggest that movement affects beat perception



A referenced study found that 16% of variation in preferred beat rate can be predicted by anthropometric factors, such as weight and length of body segments. The passive movement of the head biases meter perception while passive leg movement has no effect. It seems that faster metric levels are embodied in the extremities, and slower ones in the central parts of the body. Movement in music is an innate ability, but the study admittedly didn’t explore the effects of other genres and meter types. Therefore, I could assume that the intricacies of musical movement is more diverse than what this specific study suggests.

“While music certainly induces movement, there also is some evidence to suggest that movement affects beat perception.” (pg. 60)

“When we listen to a piece of music, we often tap our foot, nod our head, or move our body along with it. In most cultures, music and dance have evolved together (Arom, 1991; Cross, 2003; Wallin, Merker, & Brown, 2000).” (pg. 59)


Eigenmovement – proper or characteristic movement

Mediolateral – relating to, extending along, or being a direction or axis from side to side or from median to lateral

Isochronous (nonisochronous) – A sequence of events is isochronous if the events occur regularly, or at equal time intervals. … Isochronous timing is a characteristic of a repeating event whereas synchronous timing refers to the relationship between two or more events

Anthrometry – the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body

Sensorimotor – (of nerves or their actions) having or involving both sensory and motor functions or pathways


Internalization of the tempo shouldn’t rely on the simple tapping of your foot, but with or in addition to subdividing, flexing, breathing, and grooving.

Observation – Dardanelle HS


On February 9th, I went to observe Mr. Hooten and the Dardanelle Wind Ensemble. Hooten was active and strong-willed in his rehearsal, not fearing to point out any negatives and positives. When a compliment was due, he made sure to make it known, and if a problem occurred, he did the same. For only a 45-minute rehearsal, Hooten used every minute to advance the students within the three pieces of repertoire.

Fall Lesson – Pumpkins!

In accordance to the criteria, I created a lesson revolved around pumpkins! The children’s book I selected is Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat. The lesson is two parts: coloring pumpkins whilst listening to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons: Autumn” and singing/watching the “Five Little Pumpkins” song on YouTube.

Five Little Pumpkins

Five Little pumpkins sitting on a gate (show five fingers)

The First one said, “Oh my … it’s getting late!” (Hands on cheeks, “Home Alone” expression)

The Second one said, “There are witches in the air!” (Look scared)

The Third one said, “We don’t care!” (Hands out, palms up)

The Fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!” (Stomp feet to feign running)

The Fifth one said, “We’re ready for some fun!” (shake pointer finger)

Wooooooo! went the wind… (sway arms back and forth)

And out (clap) went the lights

And the Five little pumpkins (show five fingers) Rolled out of sight! (roll arms)

Listening Lesson

I chose the choral arrangement of “Hymn of Acxiom” by Vienna Teng. I chose this song because of it’s fascinating juxtaposed nature. The piece sounds of a GORGEOUS religious hymn, but the song itself is about the Arkansas-based Acxiom database company and modern consumerism. This piece has swept through the many types of ensembles: marching band, corps, choir, chamber ensembles, acapella, symphonic band.

1.) Students will begin to listen

2.) Students will draw a word that describes what the music makes them think about or how the music makes them feel (decorate the word – can use different fonts, colors, sizes as well)

3.) Student will begin a new word every time the music makes them feel or think different (continuing decorating their current word until the music makes them experience a new feeling).


Vienna Teng