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Learning Sequences in Music: A Contemporary Music Learning Theory 2012 Edition/G2345 Hardcover – August 11, 2011
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About the Author
Gordon's primary interests are research in the psychology of music, music aptitudes, music-learning theory, and audiation. He lives with his wife, Carol, in Columbia, South Carolina.
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However it gets 5-stars from me because it stands conventional music teaching on its head, based on 30 years of research, and, to put it bluntly, in my opinion, Edwin Gordon was right about many things, such as:
Moveable do based on a La-based minor
Du-ta-de-ta rhythm syllables
The central importance of audiation
The need to delay instrumental teaching
The need to delay learning to read music
The sight before sound principle
The need for aptitude testing in music education
I could go on...
Don't buy the books that proport to be a bite-size introduction to Gordon's ideas. Buy this book and roll your sleeves up for a difficult, but extremely enlightening read. If you're serious about teaching music RIGHT you need this book. I wish I had read it years ago.
To get a general idea of Gordon's ideas, search for a series of videos on youtube entitled "Edwin E. Gordon Music Learning Theory Overview"
EE Gordon's book *Learning Sequences in Music* bridged the gap for me. It is basically a summary of his research in the developmental psychology of music - for a popular audience. Where *The Music Lesson* gave me a window to the nature of music, Gordon gave me a roadmap to the skills I wanted to acquire and enhance.
I read both those books in a single summer a few years ago and that time is one of the big milestones in my life. Things are a lot different for me after that summer. From LSM I was able to assess my current level of development, organize more study/practice, and generally proceed with music, when I had previously been stalled for years.
I will say that there is an easier book if you just want the gist of LSM. It is Eric Bluestine's *The Ways Children Learn Music*. Bluestine is a busy elementary music teacher who has studied Music Learning Theory and used it to inform his own pedagogy - he also has a lovely touch at the typewriter. Dr. Gordon was from a time when people read more and could sustain concentration much longer. Additionally, he was not particularly gifted in the art of prose. OTOH LSM isn't meant for entertainment, and by all other criteria this book is well-written. I do admit that studying this book is a project - definitely not a beach read.
Also I should point out that LSM - and most of Music Learning Theory - does not constitute a method. It is a finding in psychological research. It doesn't tell you what to do, but rather informs your choices of methods by telling you exactly what skills constitute musical proficiency, and the natural order in which people acquire those skills.
Gordon's achievement was the scientific proof that people learn music syntactically. In a short Amazon review it's hard to convey how important this is - maybe you have to have suffered through a long, unproductive music education like I did to appreciate it. This discovery is on the order of the proof of a heliocentric model of celestial bodies. Gordon's work convincingly refutes unproductive, wrong-headed dogma that has plagued the academy for a long time and prevented untold generations of people from fully experiencing music.
I was just thinking about this book this morning - that's what brought me here - reflecting on how much it helped me in my life. I thought maybe I would drop Dr. Gordon a note and thank him for his courageous work (he had a very difficult academic career because his discovery upset the status quo). I just read that he died in December.
Music is an integral part of human life, yet currently huge swaths of cultures descended from the Renaissance suffer because of misinformation regarding how people learn music. Gordon's work ensures that the scientific fact of music learning sequence has a fighting chance, which should eventually result in the restoration of this basic human activity to many millions of currently impoverished lives.
I hope that someone will see this review and, if not actually read *Learning Sequences in Music*, at least take the trouble to understand Dr. Gordon's work and what it means to music students of the future, from undergrads learning music theory to the children they will go out and instruct.