GIML History 

A page dedicated to the history of the Gordon Institute for Music Learning

The GIML Historian Committee


The GIML Historian Committee, compromised of Gordon Davignon, Diane Lange and Denise Guillbaut, embarked on a mission in 2020  to gather historical artifacts and collect data and documents and to determine an accurate and factual historical timeline for the organization. This page serves to bring the GIML historical story to life.

GIML Historian Committee

Gordon Davignon

Diane Lange

Denise Guillbaut

Sugarloaf Seminars

...the primary force in bringing music learning theory to music educators


The Sugar Loaf seminars were held for ten summers between 1980-1989.  The purpose was the “primary force in bringing music learning theory to music educators and to the students and institutions they serve by providing a credible and respectable discipline to the profession of music education.”

First Sugarloaf Seminar, 1980


Sugarloaf Sessions and Attendees

Below you will find relevant documents to the Sugarloaf Sessions. Click on the names to download. 

GIML Leadership

The Gordon Institute for Music Learning was first conceived of by Dr. Edwin Gordon and a handful of his closest colleagues.  Discussions about establishing an organization dedicated to disseminate Gordon’s growing base of research information on MLT began while Gordon was at Temple University during the 1985-86 school year.

GIML Leadership Documents

Below you will find relevant documents to the GIML Leadership. Click on the names to download. 

GIML Conferences

The first symposium was in 1991 in conjunction with the 1st National Music Clinic in Philadelphia.  The second followed in 1992 and the third one was scheduled for 1993, but there is no record that this symposium ever occurred.

The first international conference started in 2007 in Dayton, Ohio.  Conferences have continued biennially ever since.

First Conference Logo

GIML Conference Documents

Below you will find relevant documents to the GIML Conference. Click on the names to download. 

GIML Chapters

There are seven GIML chapters.  The first GIML chapter, Michigan, was formed in 1995.  The most recent chapter is California.

GIML Historian Honorees

The Historian Committee chose five nominees to be honored at the 9th International Conference on Music Learning Theory.  They were chosen because of their significant contributions to the organization.

Alec Harris


Alec Harris was on the Working Board from 1987-1990 and Production Editor from 1990-1999.  He has always been a supporter of GIML.

Click Here to Read the Full Bio

Alec Harris is President of GIA Publications, Inc., a leading publisher of liturgical music, hymnals, recordings, and music education resources with more than 10,000 titles in print and a full-time staff of 80 employees. 

Alec joined GIA in 1987 after receiving a BA with honors in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and working for two years as a newspaper reporter and editor in the Washington, DC area. Alec is the fourth generation in his family in the music business. His great-grandfather opened and managed the Carl Fischer retail music store in downtown Chicago in the 1890s. His father, Ed (now retired) acquired GIA in 1966.

Since joining GIA, Alec has devoted his attention to bringing technological innovation to music publishing, establishing One License LLC, and building a visionary editorial team. His company acquired Walton Music in 2013, WLP Publications and Meredith Music in 2020.

Alec serves on the board of the Church Music Publishers Association Action Fund and completed a four-year term as industry representative to the American Choral Directors Association. He also works to find creative solutions to the scourge of gun violence in Chicago and is co-Treasurer of the North American Board of the Union for Reform Judaism. Alec lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife and two children.

Ed Harris


Ed Harris is the founder of GIA and worked very closely with Ed Gordon in publishing his early materials. GIA Publications has been an active supporter since 1987.

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Edward Harris has devoted his entire life to the music industry. In fact, he is the third generation in his family to do so. 

Ed’s grandfather, Samuel Harris, opened and managed the Carl Fischer retail music store in Chicago in the 1890s. Samuel had two sons, Irving and Sidney, who followed him into the business in the 1920s. Irving and Sidney managed the store together after their father passed away in 1946. And together, they taught Ed the music publishing business.

Ed worked at Carl Fischer as a youngster and came to work at the store full time after graduating college and serving in the U.S. Navy for two years, in 1957. However, Ed always had a yearning to own his own business, and his family had no ownership of Carl Fischer.

In 1966, with savings and some help from his family, Ed was able to purchase the struggling music distribution company Henry Teller, Inc. Ed’s younger brother Michael joined the business, and the name of the company was changed to Harris-Teller, Inc. 

The two brothers began the painstaking work of building the company into one of the premier musical merchandise and printed music distributors in the U.S., known by music dealers throughout the country for its great service, deep inventory, and knowledgeable staff.

Only about six months later, Ed purchased another struggling music company, the Gregorian Institute of America. A publisher of music primarily for the Catholic Church in the U.S., the Gregorian Institute of America was floundering in part due to the reforms of Vatican II.

Ed purchased the company on his own, and quickly broadened its mission, changing the name to GIA Publications, Inc. Today, GIA continues its service to Catholic and other liturgical denominations, with thousands of choral octavos in print. GIA also publishes hymnals and has some 300 sacred recordings of all styles in production. GIA’s Choral Subscription Service remains one of the most popular in the U.S.

In addition, Ed has taken on a very personal mission of identifying and publishing pioneering music education resources. Over the years, GIA has published five beginning band methods, the Teaching Music through Performance in Band series, two general music series, and two early childhood music programs, a slew of textbooks, and other highly regarded resources. GIA today continues to serve band directors, general music teachers, choir directors, early childhood music specialists, and college professors with a wide range of innovative publications.

Ed has never been one to seek the spotlight, but his vision has been a guiding force at both companies for more than 35 years. Both businesses remain in the family, with Michael’s son Jon Harris joining the staff of Harris-Teller, and Alec Harris coming on board at GIA. All of us look forward to many more years of service to our industry.

Ellen Deacon


Ellen Deacon was the Founding Director of GIML and served as Executive Secretary until 1989.

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Ellen Deacon has lived an eclectic life shaped more by her love of music, language and people in general, than any sense of a "career."  At 78, she is still discovering "who she wants to be when she grows up."  Her experiences over the years include a BA in English and an MA in French from the University of Texas.  She is a native Texan, transplanted to Philadelphia in 1969, and staying ever since when it became clear that roots were well established.  At one point thinking she might want to teach music, she completed a Bachelors of Music Ed. at Temple, and through those connections a few years later found herself asked to set up a nonprofit institute for Edwin Gordon's groundbreaking work.  That work of several years was a joy and a challenge, full of learning.  In 2000 Ellen acquired two modest apartment properties which she manages, and  in one of which she now lives and has the joy of seeing her two daughters join her in living there.  She is a convinced Quaker and a life-long committed believer in the power of nonviolent direct action training and organizing, as well as actively working to end racism.  

Mitch Haverly


Mitchell Haverly was a founding member of GIML and Editor of the newsletter.  He was also President of GIML from 1990-1996 and on the Working Board from 1996-2004.

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Mitchell Haverly is a 1963 graduate of Berne-Knox Central School in Berne, NY.  He received both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Music Education from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York.  He also holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. 

Mr. Haverly taught music in the public schools of New York State for over 34 years.  He retired as Director of Music in the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District in July of 2002.  He has appeared as a guest conductor at County Music Festivals in Schoharie, Greene, Rennselaer, Madison, Chenango, Fulton and Otsego Counties.  He is listed in the 1998 and 2000 editions of “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers”.

In January of 2005, he was appointed Artistic Director/Conductor of the Depot Lane Singers, a 75 member community chorus based in Schoharie County, serving in that position until the spring of 2018.

Mr. Haverly is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Gordon Institute for Music Learning and was a founding member of that institution.  He served as Associate Choir Director at the First United Methodist Church in Schenectady, NY from the mid-1980s until March 2020.

Mr. Haverly currently lives in West Berne, New York with his wife Barbara.  They are the proud parents of two boys, Andrew and David.

Robert Haper


Robert Harper was a founding member of GIML and contributed to curriculum development.  He was a Vice Chair of the Board of Directors from 1987-1990, Chair of the Board of Directors from 1990-1999, and on the GIML Working Board from 1999-2001.

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Robert Harper is a retired elementary / general music teacher and choral director from the William Floyd School District on Long Island, NY. He also served as the rehearsal accompanist and pit orchestra piano player for 14 High School musicals.

Mr. Harper was first introduced to the work of Dr. Edwin Gordon in 1986 and spent the rest of his teaching career applying Dr. Gordon’s work to the elementary classroom. He was part of a team of writers for the New York State Elementary General Music Curriculum in addition to the lead writer for a seven-year project to create a K-6 music curriculum for the William Floyd School District based on Dr. Gordon’s work.

Mr. Harper has lectured extensively in the New York Metropolitan area and beyond on Music Learning Theory and its practical application. He was one of the founding members of the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) and was a writer for several chapters in the book “Readings in Music Learning Theory”.  

In 1997, Mr. Harper received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the music programs in Japan. He visited programs from pre-school to the university level in Tokyo, Morioka, and Hanamaki.

This year, Mr. Harper was honored by his school district on its “Fine Arts Wall of Distinction” for his work bringing Music Learning Theory to the William Floyd School District.

Mr. Harper retired from public education after 34 years in 2011. He and his wife Catherine spend their time restoring two 19th century homes on Long Island and Shelter Island, NY.