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Thacher Music Blog

Audiation

A cornerstone of musicianship is the work of audiation. This word was coined by music education pioneer, Edwin Gordon. It is the ability to hear a range of sounds and musical ideas in your mind. There is much going on these days in the field of education to do with mental coordination of the senses and its effect on learning. Indeed from the beginning of Montessori education,  the principle of tapping into the child’s innate drives to organize, train and harness the senses, and channel these drives for learning has been essential in every way.

When this coordination is done in music, several interesting and powerful things occur. One is that senses which are used for self location are fully engaged and cultivated. (The latest neurological science has shown that there are several sensory systems active in the brain besides the old standard five. These each have their own location i the brain, and their own ability to be cultivated through imagination and through activities.)

At the end of the video below we see rhythm vocalist Lori Cotler doing Call and Response with the entire Thacher School. Call and Response work is something we do often at Thacher to strengthen, differentiate and coordinate all the sensory aspects of musicianship. Here we see the entire sensory cycle of music in a nutshell. An idea is taken in, not only through the hearing sense, but the weight of the sound is felt proprioceptively in the body, and the movement of the sound is experienced in the vestibular system. (It is these other two sensory systems, the proprioceptive, and vestibular, along with the auditory system which largely determine how aware we our of ourselves on a sensory level). After the musical idea is taken in, it is organized nearly instantaneously into a coordinated response, and then the response is returned.

This sensory cycle is so ingrained in our functioning that nearly all music that exists makes use of this cycle in composition. Whether or not we have cultivated it largely determines our ability to hear the meaning of musical ideas or to express them. In compositions, Initial themes or verses embed themselves in our mind as secondary variations and verses bring new information, and meaning is felt and derived from the contrast and comparisons which arise from this inner back and forth.

 

Here it is made simple, explicit, and fun. (Lori gets going about 2:21 into the video, and the call and response begins at about 2:50):

 

 

 

 

 

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