GORDON:  Music Learning Theory

 In his own words . . .

Audiation expressed through improvisation (musical conversation) best precedes being taught to read the notation of music, because improvisation appropriately becomes the readiness for learning to read music notation just as language conversation becomes the readiness for learning to read the printed symbols that represent a language.

My best recommendation to music teachers of the next century is to improvise, improvise, improvise! Get rid of notation. Learn from music learning theory to teach children to make music without the aid of notation or music theory. Follow religiously the process the way we learn language.

Skills cannot be learned unless they are taught in conjunction with tonal content or rhythm content, and tonal content and rhythm content cannot be learned unless they are taught in conjunction with a skill.



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, Gordonís 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 (from the GIML website).

bulletAudiation:  the ability to hear music internally when the physical sound is not present.
bulletMusic Aptitude
bulletTonal solfege (moveable do and la-based minor)
bulletTonalities:  tonic, dominant and sub-dominant emphasized in major, harmonic minor, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian
bulletRhythm:  system based on beat function. 

Gordon considered that learning music should follow the same process as learning a language.  The process would be listening, speaking, thinking, reading, and writing.



The Gordon Institute for Music Learning

Early Childhood Music Abuse:  Misdeeds and Neglect

Talent Deconstructed


Gordon, E. (1984). Learning Sequences in Music: Skill, Content, and Patterns. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications.

Gordon, E. (1971). The Psychology of Music Teaching. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.


Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson