Music Learning Sequences

November 3, 2014

Dr Gordon and his fellows have 50+ years of research behind them to inform us on how people learn music. 

 

 

Music Learning Theory informs the sequence of our teaching.

One must move through the stages of music learning in developmental order or they will have holes in their musical understanding, performance and enjoyment. Playing an instrument or singing can be like typing. You simply do certain things to get a certain tone or rhythm, but is this music making?

We have all experienced persons playing musical instruments ( including voice) but without musicality.

The result is not pleasing to the listener or the performer.

Music Learning Sequence helps all students to bring the music out from within. The sequences 

 

 

Benefits for Students

  • 1.Students perform on their  instruments (including voice) more fluently, and in a variety of meters, tonalities, and styles.

  • 2.Students perform with better intonation and rhythmic accuracy.

  • 3.Students listen to music with an understanding of the tonality and meter.

  • 4.Students are able to engage in higher level skills such as creativity, improvisation, and generalization.

  • 5.Students have a large repertoire of songs they can perform with and without notation.

  • 6.Students are able to read notation with better understanding.

  • 7.Students continue as adults to listen with understanding to music of many styles.

 

 

How Do Your Classes  Achieve These Results?

Music learning theory tells us that the process of learning music is much the same as the process of learning language. How did you learn language?

First, you listened to language. From the time of birth, and even before, you were surrounded by the sound of language and conversation. you absorbed these sounds and became acculturated to the language of your culture.

Second, you tried, unsuccessfully at first, to imitate. Keep in mind that even before you were successful at imitating, you were praised for your efforts and encouraged to “babble,” even when the sounds that you were making
did not make sense.

Third, you began to think in the language. Words and phrases began to have meaning for you. You picked up the meaning through your experiences with the language.

Fourth, you began to improvise in the language. In other words, you were able to make up your own phrases and sentences that were organized in a logical manner. You were able to engage in conversation.

Finally, after several years of developing your ability to think, you were taught how to read and write. You learned to read with understanding because of all the experience you had listening, imitating, thinking, and improvising.

How would your language achievement have been affected if any of these steps had been skipped? How would your language achievement have been affected if someone had tried to teach you in a different sequence? For example, what would have happened if someone had tried to teach you to read before you could think, or even before you had engaged in a conversation?

Audiation is the word we use to describe the process of thinking music. To audiate is to hear and comprehend music that is not physically present, just as to think is to hear and give meaning to language, the sound of words not physically present. Musicians audiate when they recall music they have previously heard, when they anticipate and predict what will be heard next while listening to music, when they create and improvise music, and when they read and write music. The comprehension aspect of audiation is complex, just as the process of thinking is complex. This
comprehension aspect includes awareness and understanding of the underlying tonality and meter of the music. Do you think your musical skills would be better if you had been taught in a more effective sequence?

Everyone has the potential to learn to audiate. Some students have more potential to learn to audiate than others. Research indicates that potential or aptitude in music has very little in common with verbal, logical, or mathematical intelligences. Therefore, there are some students who have more potential in music than in any other subject. Research also indicates that the best way to develop this potential is through active participation in music, such as singing, moving, playing, creating, and improvising.

Many great music educators of the past have advocated “rote before note,” that is, aural learning and experiences with music before being taught to read notation. Suzuki, Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly, and Lowell Mason, among others, agree that reading and writing music must be preceded by many opportunities to listen to and perform music. We will  go  a step further by teaching students to comprehend the music they are hearing and performing. Ultimately the students are able to read music notation with better understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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