In Memoriam: Leon Burton

Leon Burton

Dr. Leon H. Burton, professor emeritus of the College of Education (COE), passed away on December 23, 2011 at the age of 81. Following high school, Burton joined the Navy where he played in the navy band at Pearl Harbor. He graduated in music education from the University of Hawai‘i College of Education in 1956 and received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. Returning to Hawaiʻi, he taught music, mathematics, and history in Hawai‘i’s public and private schools before serving as a Hawai‘i Department of Education (HIDOE) curriculum specialist. He helped start the Hawaiʻi Curriculum Center, which became the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) in 1969. Burton served CRDG for over 27 years, creating many widely recognized curricula including the Comprehensive Musicianship Program for grades K–6 that continues to be used in HIDOE schools today. In 1996 Dr. Burton completed Integrated Developmental Experiences for Active Learning (iDEAL), a totally integrated kindergarten program. In addition, he created Ukulele: A Comprehensive Approach (1989) and Class Guitar: A Comprehensive Approach (1981) that include lesson plans, student activities, and teacher supports. Always focused on the learning of young children Dr. Burton authored MusicPlay, ArtsPlay, Pathways, and BugPlay (with M. Hapai). He was well known for the excellent professional development he designed and conducted with teachers throughout Hawai‘i and on the mainland. Burton was active within both the academic and music communities, serving in many education policy organizations and travelling extensively in his role as a music educator. Burton also played with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra for more than six decades. His impact on music and arts education continues locally and worldwide. “Dr. Leon Burton’s outstanding work in developing curriculum for schools is still in use and without compare,” CRDG Director Don Young said.