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Music teachers go to summer school at UB

As part of the Early Childhood Music course, teachers engage students from the Early Childhood Research Center in creative play to help improve their familiarity with flow, weight, space and time. Photo: Ariel Namoca


Published August 4, 2014

More than 50 music educators from across the world traveled to UB this summer to learn how to teach the language of music.

Their first students: a curious group of toddlers and preschoolers in UB’s Early Childhood Research Center.

The teachers, who came from schools as close as Rochester and as far as New Zealand, made up the 2014 class of the Summer Music Education Institute in the Graduate School of Education.

Through the program, they improved their musicianship and learned principles of music learning theory, a concept developed at UB in 1976 by former professor Edwin Gordon that explains how people understand music.

In the UB classes, teachers fostered students’ tonal and rhythm skills by leading the children in songs using melodies instead of words. They also included creative movement to help improve the groups’ familiarity with flow, weight, space and time.

“UB is considered the birthplace of music learning theory, and we are proud to continue a rich tradition of providing practical courses to help teachers shape their students’ musical education,” said Elisabeth Etopio, summer coordinator and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction.

The institute, created in 1998, partners with the Gordon Institute of Music Learning to welcome a community of learners to participate in four courses: Elementary General Music, Instrumental Music, Piano and Early Childhood Music.

Courses focused on improving the teachers’ musicianship, developing audiation — the musical form of imagination — and refining performance skill and educational content knowledge for classroom activities.

The Early Childhood Music course, which began July 21 and ran through Aug. 1, placed the instructors in classrooms where they engaged children in song, chants and movement. Teachers also guided the students through the stages of audiation using such techniques such echoing, movement, breathing and improvisation with tones and rhythms.

For more information about the Summer Music Education Institute, visit its website.