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Music Learning Theory, AGC

The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Music Learning Theory is a 15-credit certificate grounded in theory, research, and practice. The certificate is designed for those interested in advanced study of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and its practical applications. This may include international and national, college and university professionals as well as P-12 personnel.

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Why Music Learning Theory?

Music Learning Theory (MLT) is an explanation of how we learn when we learn music. It is based on an extensive body of research by Edwin E. Gordon as well as practical field-testing by Gordon and others. Music Learning Theory provides the music teacher a comprehensive sequence for teaching musicianship through audiation, Gordon's term for hearing music in the mind with understanding. This certificate is designed to prepare specialists at every level of the theory as well as its practical applications.

Current research and practice will be the basis for planning pre-service, in-service, professional development; and, school music curricula; design, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability will be included. Persons who successfully complete this program will have the necessary knowledge and skill to guide other music educators committed to the use of MLT to develop better musicianship as professionals and become lifelong learners/consumers of music.

Application Requirements

Students are accepted into the program and may start coursework in either the fall or spring semester. The Music Learning Theory program has a preferred* deadline of February 1st for fall admission and November 1st for spring admission. After the preferred deadline has passed, admission is rolling. (Rolling admission only applies to domestic students)

You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as we have a limited number of spaces available. Once spaces are filled, the remaining applicants who are accepted into the program will be placed on a waiting list.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and must submit:

  • An online application
  • A $50 non-refundable application fee, submitted electronically through UB's ePayment system
  • Transcripts of previous academic work, including documentation of previous coursework and/or experience with Music Learning Theory.  Applicants who are currently at UB or have studied at or graduated from UB do not need to request an official UB transcript. GSE's Office of Admissions can download and print the transcript for you.

Former/Maiden Name: The Graduate School of Education must be made aware if applicants have ever changed their name.  If this is the case, be sure to ask the institution sending your transcripts to indicate your current name and any former or maiden names.

*Submitting your application by the preferred deadline ensures application review in a timely manner enabling you to have more time to plan for the beginning of the semester, obtain financial aid in a timely manner and register for courses quickly before they are at capacity and perhaps even get a head start and take classes in the summer. 

Supporting Documentation

All supporting documents must be uploaded and attached to your online application. This includes unofficial copies of your transcripts and any other documents required for review.


Program Requirements

Required Coursework

To earn the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Music Learning Theory, students must complete the following:

Required Courses

  • LAI 568: Historical Development of Music Learning Theory
  • LAI 569B: Research Seminar in Music Learning Theory

Elective Courses

  • LAI 554:Measuring Music Achievement Through the Lens of
    Music Learning Theory
  • LAI 564: Advanced Studies in Music Learning Theory
  • LAI 566: Design & Evaluation of an MLT-based Unified Curriculum
  • LAI ###: The Nature and Source of Music Aptitudes

Course Descriptions

LAI 554: Measuring Music Achievement Through the Lens of
Music Learning Theory

A cornerstone of Music Learning Theory is guiding learning of students to address their individual music differences. This course includes study of mental measurement concepts as they apply to teacher-made tests in music and standardized music aptitude and music achievement test batteries in order for teachers to better meet the needs of their students. Test manuals are examined in detail, in conjunction with the audition of specific batteries most relevant to MLT, to provide for the proper utilization of those materials. A professional plan for assessing music learning for the programs they lead will be developed and will include performance observation, and portfolio assessment; materials useful for in-service workshops on aspects of music assessment within participant's specialties will be created and pilot-tested.

LAI 564: Advanced Studies in Music Learning Theory

Considers various practical and philosophical topics related to vocal/general, choral and instrumental music education. Course content will vary. One of the following, for example, may be the topic for a given semester: Materials for Contemporary Music Education, Teaching to Individual Music Differences, Styles and Genres for Childhood, Audiation - A Sound Experience, Music in Early Childhood. Consult LAI for the topic in the next semester offered.

LAI 566: Design & Evaluation of an MLT-based Unified Curriculum

A study of the selection and sequencing of PreK-12 content derived from traditional and contemporary music and aligned with Learning Standards offered by various national and international organizations. Emphasis is placed on the coordination of purposes, objectives, learning principles, teaching procedures, assessment, and achievement reporting as they relate to instruction in general music, choral music, and instrumental music in the preK, elementary and secondary settings. In addition, relevant materials are critically examined. Topics to include curriculum validation and implementation.

LAI 568: Historical Development of Music Learning Theory

Music Learning Theory (MLT) as we know it today, was defined by Professor Edwin E. Gordon during his tenure at the University at Buffalo in the 1970s.  It can be said that MLT is an eclectic approach to the teaching and learning of music because Gordon has synthesized “best or preferred [practice] from a variety of sources or styles” into an effective sequence for guiding students’ music learning.  In this course, we will trace these “best” elements to their original source(s) through literature reviews and on-line searches in order to use MLT to a higher level of effectiveness in our school music programs.

 LAI 569B: Research Seminar in Music Learning Theory

The tenets of Music Learning Theory and audiation are grounded in analytic observation and empirical research.  In this course, students will summarize and critically examine research that has contributed to the development and validation of MLT, develop beginning level abilities to design research projects, and search for MLT-based research reports relevant to teaching interests.  Emphasis is on building individual capacity for updating professional research knowledge and using research-based techniques to improve teaching and learning music.

LAI ###: The Nature and Source of Music Aptitudes

Over time, music psychologists have varied in their use of terms as they developed tests to measure music constructs that predict a student’s potential to learn music. In this course terms such as talent, ability, musicality, aptitude and genius will be examined in historical context in order to understand Gordon’s impact on the field of music aptitude and why he was able to resolve the long-standing debate regarding the nature/nurture theories of music aptitude. In addition, recent research in neuroscience will be reviewed in order to understand the interplay between music and linguistic aptitudes.

What is the Time Commitment?

Online courses traditionally require a minimum of 9 to 12 hours of dedicated study outside of participation in the virtual classroom, so it is important that you take into consideration other personal and professional commitments as you pursue your coursework.


Learn More

The Music Learning Theory Advanced Graduate Certificate program is located within the Department of Learning and Instruction in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.

University Computing Standards

All students are required to have access to an adequately equipped computer that meets the University computing standards as well as daily access to a reliable broadband  connection (i.e., DSL or cable). Students are also expected to have basic computer competency before beginning their course work.