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The subject of the first paper was, “Music as a Regular and Required Branch of Grade Work,” by Aaron Gove, of Denver, Colorado.
The paper was discussed by N. Coe Stewart, of Cleveland, Ohio, and by others.
In the absence of M. L. Bartlett, of Des Moines, Iowa, who was to speak on the “Union of Tonic Sol-Fa with the Staff Notation,” and of B.C. Gregory, of Trenton, New Jersey, who was to have given a paper on “Value of the Union of the Tonic Sol-Fa with the Staff Notation," Robert H. Beggs of Denver, Colorado, read a paper on the subject of “Notation.”
Discussion followed by H. E. Holt, C. H. Congdon, N. Coe Stewart, N. L. Glover, O. S. Cook, President Griggs, and others.
The President announced the following Committee on Nominations: 0. S. Cook, of Illinois; C. H. Congdon, of Minnesota; and Emma B. Mitchell, of Colorado.
On motion of N. Coe Stewart, a vote of thanks was extended to the assisting artists.
0. S. Cook, on behalf of the Committee on Nominations, made the following report, which was adopted:
Herbert Griggs, Denver, Colorado.
FRANK E. MORSE, Secretary.
HERBERT GRIGGS, DENVER, COLORADO.
Music as a study is becoming more and more an important factor in the course of study in the public schools. Until within a few years, it was considered of little worth as compared with other studies. Truly, as I remember it, it was of little worth — merely a pleasant pastime, good to add a little cheerfulness to the daily routine of school-work, and when there was little else to do. How easily I can recall our first music-master coming into the room with his fiddle-box under his arm. How anxiously I watched his every movement, hoping to see him lay it on my desk and open it. When he would take out his bow, tighten up the hair and resin it, take out the fiddle, pick the strings and tume it, I would think what a wonderful man he was. How tickled I was when he broke a string! That was the joy of it!
But when he pointed his bow at me; told me to “Stand, sir," and asked, “What are those two flats there for, sir?" or "If a whole note has four beats in ++ time, how many beats will a dotted eighth-note have in 3-2 time?” or when he would stand me on the floor for trying to sing bass like the big boys (I was about ten years of age), or rap me on the head with his bow for not singing “louder," which caused me to weep, and which I verily believe was the primary cause of my present baldness: that was the sorrow of it. How he used to stamp his foot, wiggle his head, scrape that fiddle, and count and sing, and sing and count ! How we filled our little lungs with bad air, grew red in the face, and emitted sounds that for loudness and harshness would exceed anything that the size of our bodies would warrant !
Such was the style of teaching music in the public schools years ago.
About a year and a half ago, it was my privilege to visit many schools in different parts of the country, and in many of them vestiges of the same old methods of teaching prevailed. Improved? Yes, to some extent. Were the results obtained better? Yes, in proportion to the improvement in method of teaching. Were the results obtained by the improved methods of teaching as good in proportion as the results obtained in improved methods of teaching in other branches of study? Most emphatically, no. Why? One reason, I think, is in the wrong conception of the object of the study of music. Many principals and teachers seem to lose sight of the fact that the study of music, if properly taught, is eminently educational, intellectually, physically, and morally. Put an exercise on the blackboard, have the pupils sing it at sight; you will find that it requires really more concentration of thought, is healthier for the body, is better means of discipline, than any other exercise in any other branch of study. If the principals and teachers realized this more fully, there would not be that lack of interest on their part which makes it extremely difficult for the instructor of music to carry on his work with any degree of ease or enthusiasm, or to successfully accomplish the desired result.
Another reason is, that, music instructors will not or cannot to any great extent, break away from the old traditions. They seem unwilling to leave the old beaten paths of rote-singing, song-singing, loud singing, useless theoretical show — all leading to the objective point, exhibition-singing; leaving out altogether such points as intelligent singing, the education of the mind, concentration of thought, the intelligent conception of musical ideas, independence in singing at sight, pleasurable emotion in rendering or hearing rendered good, healthy music, discrimination in good or bad music, and its benefit to the health.
A teacher who loves his work, loves children and is enthusiastic in his work, can create in his school a love for the study and an enthusiasm on the part of his pupils that will make his work almost a delightful recreation. Without this love for the study on the part of the children, this musical atmosphere, no real, good results can be obtained. The idea of forcing pupils, or of making children sing, is all wrong. As the teacher feels, so will his class feel; at the end of five minutes the class will be a perfect reflection of the teacher's feelings. If the teacher comes before his class irritable, cross and impatient, he may expect the same from the children. If on the other hand he stands before them patient, cheerful, and in earnest, the pupils will be found ready to work, happy and in good order. If a teacher is not capable of causing the eyes of the little ones to brighten, and a smile of welcome to greet him as they see him enter, or of giving a class of children a twenty-minutes lesson without leaving them better and happier for it, he had better send in his resignanation at once; and the best thing his school board can do is to accept it promptly.
It is also very important that the supervisor of music be able to have the hearty coöperation and good-will of principal and teachers, as it is in their power to further impress upon the pupils the importance and pleasure of the study of music. If possible, let the supervisor speak a word of commendation to the teacher as well as pupils; it will do a world of good. Keep in touch with the principal of the school; gain his sympathy and good-will; let him understand what you are trying to do; and it will be a curious thing if he does not help you all in his power.
Above all, let us receive adverse criticism of our work in a spirit of fairness and equanimity. We are all liable to make mistakes, and when they are pointed out to us by others, or when we see in another's work points of excellence that do not appear in our own, let us admit frankly and freely where we have made the mistake, and try to profit by the improvements of others.
To quote the words of an eminent educator, “If a man lies about me, I have sense enough to know that there must be some truth in it."
Speaking of improvement, is not this a good time to cast a backward glance over the past year's work, and see wherein we may have made mistakes, or see now how much better we could have done this or that if we had it to do over again ? — and as we compare notes, discuss various methods of teaching, or try to find the best means to the best results, resolve cheerfully to adopt in the future any new ideas that may seem good, even if they reflect somewhat on our own previous method of teaching.
I hope that whatever is said or done here in the convention will be as practical as possible, and that every one will feel perfectly free to discuss, suggest, or remark on any of the subjects that may be presented.
I welcome you heartily and sincerely to the annual session of this department of the National Educational Association.
MUSIC AS A FACTOR IN EDUCATIOV.
MARGARET MORRIS, CINCINNATI, OHIO.
Some one somewhere states that “The new education assumes to develop character, to perfect the constitution, to consolidate the health, to elevate the moral and religious sentiments, to fit men and women for practical life, and to develop genius."
Now, music being merely one of the factors in education, it cannot of course assume to do all of these things, although it may and does accomplish some of them. From the earliest times music has been an accompaniment of religious exercises, a necessary and vital part of worship in all ages and all religions. This constant association of music with religion implies its ethical value—its power to turn the mind by means of rhythm and harmony towards the contemplation of what is elevated and impassioned. That it appeals to the emotional rather than to the intellectual side of our nature is no disparagement, for symmetrical mental development requires the fair and proper exercise of both. Is not that worship more fervent, that religious spirit more exalted, which is invoked where the pealing anthem swells the note of praise"? Thackeray was not the only one who felt that to listen to the choir of charity children at St. Paul's was to be lifted as near to heaven as mortals ever attain in life.
Perhaps few people are, at first thought, able to perceive any relation between music and the third clause of the text-to consolidate the health. But health of body largely depends upon health of mind, and mental tone depends less upon environment than upon mental resource. By providing
recreation which is neither exhausting nor depressing in its after effects, music rests a tired body, elevates and cheers a weary mind, thus adding to the vitality instead of subtracting from
This may be insuring the health only indirectly, but we have testimony as to the direct value of vocal music as a health factor. To quote from an article in the Boston Musical Herald:
“The time will soon come when singing will be regarded as one of the great helps to physicians in lung diseases, more especially in their incipient state. every branch of gymnastics is employed in one way or another by doctors, but the simple and natural function of singing has not yet received its full meed of attention. In Italy, some years ago, statistics were taken which proved that the vocal artists were exceptionally long-lived and healthy, under normal circumstances, while of the brass instrumentalists it was discovered that consumption never claimed a victim among them. Those who have a tendency towards consumption should take easy vocal exercises, no matter how thin and weak their voices may seem to be. Vocal practice, in moderation, is the best system of general gymnastics that can be imagined, many muscles being brought into play that would scarcely be suspected of action in connection with so simple a matter as tone-production. Therefore, apart from all art considerations, merely as a matter of health, one can earnestly say to the healthy, ‘Sing. that you may remain so;' and to the weakly, 'Sing, that you may become strong.'"
For other evidence in this line, it may be added that the superintendent of one of the finest gymnasiums in the country requires the men in his daily classes to sing the counting in their class exercises, because he has found that it not only develops the chest, and strengthens the lungs, but that it prevents or cures catarrhal affections in the throat and nasal passages.
Now this consolidation of the health leads naturally to another clause in the text —“to fit men and women for practical life.” Even where music is not made a profession, it may still retain a practical value for reasons above stated. No one will claim that we need to know that only which will secure our daily bread. Such a view is barbarous: it would mean to be narrow, stunted, deprived of the best part of life—the power of enjoying and appreciating the beautiful.
Music opens up a wide field of appreciation to one genuinely proficient in it, or with a cultivated taste for it: To understand music and to love it, means so much more than that alone; it means an ability to appreciate harmony wherever it occurs — in note of bird and babble of stream, or among “the murmuring pines and the hemlocks”; to delight in harmony not only of sound, but of form, and color, and proportion; to feel the subtle harmony in a beautiful poem, a stately building, a delicate flower, or a noble anthem as essentially the same.
It was a curious and instructive discovery that Daltonism - color-blindness - is usually accompanied by a corresponding deafness to certain musical notes, and incapacity to produce them. It would be interesting to know whether both are dependent upon some atrophied condition of the same part of the brain.