Piano PDLCs

About Piano PDLCs

The Piano Certification Program is based on the application of Music Learning Theory and preparatory audiation to piano instruction. Research using piano students demonstrates that the sequenced guidelines provided by Edwin E. Gordon in his Learning Sequence Activities provides exemplary models for instruction in audiation and performance skills. The goal is for students to learn to audiate as they develop keyboard performing skills so they will become fully literate musicians. 

The Piano Certification Program consists of two parts. Part one is the study of Music Learning Theory to explain the research about how students learn music. Part two is the practical application of Preparatory Audiation and Music Learning Theory to piano instruction. 

During the practical application section, teachers learn how to teach piano using an audiation approach, with special attention given to individual differences. Aspects of piano instruction are sequenced to apply MLT for students of all aptitudes and levels, age 4 through adult. Instruction includes the following: 1) how to effectively teach piano using singing, chanting, body movement, and pattern instruction activities, 2) how to perform and create through improvisation and solo and ensemble mediums as well as how to learn rote solos and play by ear, 3) how to use special instructional techniques for different levels of students and with varieties of student groupings, and 4) how to apply MLT to teach reading and writing music notation with understanding. 


Piano Faculty

Jennifer Fisher

eastern michigan university

Krista Jadro

brookline ma music school

Janna Olson

edmonton alberta, canada

Hannah Mayo

Private Piano Studio, Lafayette LA

Piano, Level 1

Course Description

Participants will study introductory principles of Music Learning Theory and practical applications for young piano students and beginners of any age to develop audiation and pre-reading skills. 

Course Content


  • Preparatory Audiation as it applies to beginning piano
  • complete overview of Music Learning Theory
  • emphasis on Aural/Oral & Verbal Association, as well as bridging to Generalization & Creativity/Improvisation inference learning at those levels
  • initial exposure to Partial Synthesis as time allows

Practical Applications

  • create & present a Keyboard Games lesson
  • provide an appropriate singing and chanting model
  • move with flow, weight, space and time
  • perform flow with pulsations, as well as Macro/microbeat movement
  • coordinate breathing & movement with chanting/singing to facilitate audiation
  • prepare & present elements of a Book 1 lesson
  • demonstrate Song to Sing activity
  • follow steps to teach a piece by rote
  • practice delivery of Learning Sequence Activities: Tonal Units 1-3; Rhythm Units 1-4
  • execute various activities at Aural/Oral, Verbal Association, Creativity/Improvisation (tonal) and Generalization Verbal (rhythm) levels of learning
  • develop ability to teach:
  • Tonic & Dominant functions in Major and Minor
  • Macro/microbeat, division and division/elongation functions in Duple and Triple
  • learn to guide students in brief improvisatory rhythm pattern and tonal pattern projects
  • discuss healthy progression of technical development
  • improvise teacher and/or student duet parts
  • discover parameters for selecting supplemental rote solos & procedures for introducing new repertoire
  • discuss parent education as it relates to brain development, neuroscience research and also the traditional private piano lesson model
  • explore studio organization models in various settings; brainstorm & problem-solve common challenges together

Musicianship Content

  • learn 1-2 songs/chants in each tonality & meter (from Music Moves repertoire)
  • learn the primary chords in each tonality & meter

Required Materials

  • Learning Sequences in Music, 2012 Edition
  • Keyboard Games Teachers Guide
  • Keyboard Games Student Book A
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 1 Teacher’s Guide
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 1 Student Book
  • Pattern CD by Marilyn Lowe (and accompanying pattern book)


Advance preparation is advantageous to successful completion of the PDLC. Before enrolling, participants should be familiar with:

  • songs & chants in a variety of tonalities & meters
  • rhythm & tonal pattern instruction as demonstrated on the Music Moves for Piano Rhythm & Tonal Pattern CD
  • the reading and teaching materials used in the course

Course Outcomes

Level 1 participants will:

  • describe characteristics & similarities/differences between
  • language learning & music learning
  • developmental & stabilized music aptitudes
  • informal guidance & formal instruction
  • preparatory audiation & early stages of developing audiation
  • discrimination & inference learning
  • Aural/Oral & Verbal Association skill learning levels
  • context & content
  • develop personal musicianship & movement skills to model when guiding students toward audiation, including:
  • coordinated breathing, moving & chanting for rhythm skill development
  • coordinated breathing, moving & singing for tonal skill development
  • creating & improvising with rhythm patterns, tonal patterns and duet parts for accompaniment
  • duplicate, design & lead preparatory audiation activities demonstrating
  • accurate singing in a variety of tonalities
  • fluent chanting in a variety of meters
  • increased variety of movements & movement qualities
  • an expressive & compelling model
  • duplicate, design & lead audiation activities demonstrating awareness of the rhythm pattern & tonal pattern content of a song/piece’s context
  • discuss related topics such as:
  • progression of healthy technical development
  • early keyboard skills (geography, transposition, arpeggio, cadence, pentascale, Major scale, tonic & dominant harmonization)
  • rote solo repertoire & instruction
  • appropriate preparation for reading/writing of standard notation during audiation development (rote notation, observing elements of standard notation, early writing activities)
  • parent education
  • studio organization

Piano, Level 2

Course Description

Participants will engage in further study of the principles of Music Learning Theory and practical applications for advancing piano students whose chronological & musical ages are appropriate for formal music reading instruction.  

Course Content


  • complete review of Preparatory Audiation & Music Learning Theory (A/O, VA)
  • emphasis on Bridging, Partial Synthesis, Symbolic Association (Reading & Writing), Composite Synthesis (Reading & Writing), Generalization (A/O, V, S: Reading & Writing), Creativity/Improvisation (A/O, S: Reading & Writing) & Theoretical Understanding (A/O, V, S: Reading & Writing)

Practical Applications

  • execute a Book 2 or 3 lesson plan with a peer group
  • lead a creativity or improvisation activity (rhythmic &/or tonal, voiced &/or on piano)
  • create a 3-4 week plan for teaching a rote piano solo (selected from a given list)
  • practice Learning Sequence Activities: from Tonal Units 4-21 & Rhythm Units 5-19
  • learn to guide students in reading & writing activities of the Reading/Writing books
  • develop ability to teach:
  • Subdominant function in Major & minor tonalities
  • Tonic, Subtonic and Subdominant functions in Dorian and Mixolydian tonalities
  • Macro/microbeat and Division patterns in Unusual Paired meter
  • Macro/microbeat functions in Unusual Unpaired and Usual Combined meters
  • If time & class ability permit: Primary chord functions in remaining tonalities; Expanded chord functions in Major/Minor (II7, VI7, III7, I7 & other chromatic alterations); Rest, Tie, and Upbeat functions in Usual Duple/Triple; Division & Elongation functions in Unusual meters
  • demonstrate a Song to Sing from Book 4 or 5 (Mixolydian or Dorian)
  • discover procedures & parameters for creating folk song arrangements
  • discuss issues related to preparing for the page, investigate the abstractions & complexities of reading music notation concurrent with keyboard playing; navigate communicating these challenging demands to parents
  • explore studio organization models in various settings; brainstorm & problem-solve common challenges together

Musicianship Content

  • review the primary chords of each tonality
  • improvise simple songs/chants in every tonality/meter
  • accurately notate simple songs & chants in each tonality/meter

Required Materials

  • Learning Sequences in Music, 2012 Edition
  • Learning Sequences in Music Study Guide (including supplement for 2012 edition)
  • Pattern CD by Marilyn Lowe
  • Rhythm and Tonal Patterns from the Pattern CD (book)
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 2 Teacher’s Guide
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 2 Student Book
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 3 Teacher’s Guide
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 3 Student Book
  • Keyalities & Tonalities
  • Reading/Writing Books 1 & 2
  • The Well-Tempered Reader (Red)
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 4 Student Book
  • Music Moves for Piano Book 5 Student Book


To apply for a Level 2 PDLC, Level 1 must have been completed in a previous year.  (Levels 1 & 2 cannot be completed during the same year as time is required to put the learning from Level 1 into practice.)  Participation in Level 2 requires official acceptance through the application process outlined by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning below.

Entrance Requirements:

  • A 15-20 minute video of the candidate’s teaching.  (Either 15-20 continuous minutes or a compilation of video clips are acceptable.)  The video is reviewed in light of the quality of the teaching rather than the success of the student(s) on the recording.  Include the following:
  • Two minutes of Tonal Learning Sequence activities at the Verbal Association level in harmonic minor tonality (if possible, include teaching mode & evaluation mode)
  • Two minutes of Rhythm Learning Sequence activities at the Verbal Association level in triple meter (if possible, include teaching mode & evaluation mode)
  • Songs in a least two different tonalities
  • Songs or chants in at least two different meters
  • Demonstration of moving with continuous flow, as well as an example of moving with weight, space &/or time
  • Teaching a ‘Song to Sing’ from Music Moves Book 1
  • Teaching a piano piece (either from Music Moves Book 1 or a rote solo)
  • Guiding a Rhythm Creativity/Improvisation activity (using voice &/or piano)
  • A one-page reflective statement on experiences teaching Learning Sequence Activities (Tonal Units 1-3 & Rhythm Units 1-4) and on development as a practitioner of Music Learning Theory generally.

Course Outcomes

Level 2 participants will:

  • Review
  • language learning & music learning
  • discrimination & inference types of learning
  • Aural/Oral & Verbal Association skill learning levels
  • the concept & important role of bridging to Generalization & Creativity/Improvisation
  • gain familiarity with deeper skill learning levels
  • Partial Synthesis
  • Symbolic Association, Composite Synthesis, Generalization & Creativity/Improvisation at the Reading & Writing sub-levels
  • Theoretical Understanding
  • broaden personal musicianship & movement skills to model with advancing students, including
  • additional beat functions & meters
  • additional tonal functions & tonalities
  • transitioning movement choices from rhythmic to stylistic development
  • demonstrate proficiency in every tonality & meter through
  • improvising
  • composing
  • notating
  • identifying primary chords & characteristic tones
  • prepare a variety of audiation & reading experiences to practice with peers
  • a book 2 or 3 lesson plan
  • creativity/improvisation projects
  • 3-4-week plan for introducing a rote piano solo
  • a Mixolydian or Dorian Song to Sing
  • folk song arrangements
  • Reading/Writing book activities (rhythm patterns; tonal patterns)
  • discuss related topics such as
  • brain development, neuroscience research & chronological age vs. musical age
  • advancing keyboard skills (arpeggios, cadences, minor scale; triads and inversions; arranging) 
  • formal reading/writing instruction for standard music notation
  • music analysis forms
  • parent education, especially as it relates to reading standard music notation
  • studio organization

About Music Moves for Piano

Music Moves for Piano is an audiation-based piano method of 23 books, authored by Marilyn Lowe in cooperation with Edwin E. Gordon.  The entire series encompasses beginning informal piano instruction/classes for preschool children through sequential formal instruction for elementary & high school students.  Materials are also appropriate for piano study with transfer students & adults.  Teachers guides and free downloadable recordings for each book are available at www.musicmovesforpiano.com.  Recordings present a rich folk tune repertoire used throughout the series, duet accompaniments, and rhythm and tonal patterns. On the website are several podcasts discussing audiation-based piano instruction.    

Piano faculty Jenny Fisher, Krista Jadro, Janna Olson and Hannah Mayo have experience teaching audiation-based piano in a variety of settings: group classes, one-on-one lessons and university music curriculum.