About Dr. Edwin E. Gordon

Edwin E. Gordon


Edwin E. Gordon is widely remembered as a researcher, teacher, author, editor, and lecturer. He and his work have been portrayed nationally on the NBC Today Show, in the New York Times, and in USA Today.

Through extensive research, Professor Gordon has made major contributions in the study of music aptitudes, audiation, music learning theory, tonal and rhythm patterns, and music development in infants and very young children.

He is the author of six highly regarded music aptitude tests, as well as numerous books, articles, and research monographs.

Before becoming committed to research in the psychology of music, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in string bass performance from the Eastman School of Music. He played string bass with the Gene Krupa band before going on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1958.

From 1979 to 1997 Professor Gordon was Carl E. Seashore Professor of Research in Music Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he received the school’s Lindback and Great Teacher Awards. Prior to that he was Professor of Music at the State University of New York at Buffalo and at the University of Iowa.

In recent years Professor Gordon had been exploring music development with infants from one month to eighteen months old and refining those skills in children from eighteen months to age three. That research focused on investigating the levels of Music Learning Theory, stages and types of audiation, developmental and stabilized music aptitudes, and rhythm in movement and music.

Music Learning Theory is explained in detail in Professor Gordon’s Learning Sequences in Music: Skill, Content, and Patterns. The musical development of young children is described in A Music Learning Theory for Newborn and Young Children. He also authored, Introduction to Research and the Psychology of Music and his most recent book, Preparatory Audiation, Audiation, and Music Learning Theory: A Handbook of a Comprehensive Music Learning Sequence, is now available from G.I.A. Publications.

Professor Gordon’s professional materials are now housed in the Edwin E. Gordon Archive at the University of South Carolina/Columbia. The archive houses all of Gordon’s publications, journals, recordings, manuscripts, dissertations he supervised, and video and audio cassette tapes of various workshops and seminars.

Although Professor Gordon is known as a researcher and theoretician and not as a philosopher of music education, his work reflects a deeply held philosophy about the value of music in the lives of all human beings:



“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 A Music Learning Theory for Newborn and Young Children. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1990, pp. 2-3.)