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It has been truly said that “the sense of beauty is the source of much that is noblest in character," and this sense should be carefully cultivated. Beauty and utility go hand in hand in nature they should do so in education; we do not want all hard facts and bald deductions. Music one of the easiest and most readily available factors in such an education, for by nature, “such harmony is in immortal souls” that in all but rare instances it is readily made to respond to cultivation.
We increase the practical power of the mind by cultivating the faculty of comparison; for our most useful knowledge is that gained through the faculty which enables us to compare one thought with another. No judgment is ever formed without the use of comparison; even our intuitions are mainly judgments formed from comparisons made so rapidly that we lose sight of that element in the apparently instantaneous decision. In the study of music, this faculty of comparison is cultivated in the reading of notes, in the necessity of attention to rhythm, in the recurrence of certain tones and chords, and in their variations.
This may be accomplished by very little direct teaching; perhaps too little, when the value of the faculty is considered; but the mind makes conscious comparisons and benefits by them, even where attention is not directly called to similarities or differences in the particulars mentioned. It may be that a minimum of positive instruction will secure a maximum of individual and independent observation and comparison.
As a pupil should not have knowledge given him which he may acquire for himself, notes should not be sung for him that he may acquire tones by simple imitation. And yet care should be exercised in this matter, for voice culture should not be neglected. If music be a “concord of sweet sounds," then the sounds from children's throats are not always music. That quality of voice should be preferred to quantity, seems a statement too trite for repetition; but to any long-suffering teacher whose ears have been racked with the noise from half a hundred little throats, all doing their best (or worst) to "sing out loud,” this question of tone-production seems no slight matter. Hence individual effort at tone-production must be wisely guided or the result will be anything but gratifying.
With this limitation, requiring a pupil to sing his notes, not from imitation, but from personal judgment as to tone and pitch, renders him self-reliant in direct ratio to an individual effort that teaches him the value of independent observation and action.
It has been objected that children thus thrown upon their own resources would remain dumb, refusing to sing without leadership and the opportunity to imitate; but why such an objection is any more valid in a music lesson than in a reading-lesson, has not been made apparent. There is much to be gained in a right beginning of such instruction, and more moral force than is often imagined, in a teacher's taking it for granted that pupils will pursue a certain course of conduct. Where a new method is to be introduced, and the teacher manifests apprehension that the method will meet with opposition on the part of pupils, such opposition is sure to appear.
If we agree with Socrates, that “Interrogation is the chief function of education, because its object is to compel thought," then does music offer a good field for just such interrogation; an interrogation that will arrest attention, encourage observation, compel investigation, assure correct deduction and insure remembrance.
It has been said that the trained musician is an example of the power of education to develop talent immeasurably above untrained native capacity; and the value of musical education lies in the fact that it may and usually does go on continuously, not suffering as other studies do from the weakening relaxation of vacation intervals. The study of music seems to lead towards and develop certain qualities of genius which distinguish it from mere talent: giving a direct perception of truth without conscious induction or deduction and bestowing an intuitive sense of harmonious proportion which cultivates the artistic and moral side of human nature. Now, though the fact is often taken for granted, it does not always follow that a so-called good education will develop the moral faculties symmetrically with the intellectual ones; and the fault probably lies in the stress thrown upon the immediately practical to the disadvantage or even the exclusion of the moral and spiritual elements of education. Instruction in music should be promoted as a power in that most important of ends, the development of fine moral character. For it is one of those studies which, by their appeal to the beautiful, foster the growth of man's nobler qualities — qualities to be tenderly cherished and earnestly encouraged. It is no small advance towards symmetrical development of character, to have learned the principles of order, harmony and proportion, gradually rising above material things to a spiritual perception of the laws of beauty and harmony, which underlie all truth; and to have learned them almost by intuition, so that the only direct teaching requisite was a natural advance from simple to more complex musical composition.
That all great poets have recognized the power of music, is valuable testimony to its worth as a factor in character-making. An education that will fit men and women for practical life, if it means anything, means to insure for them such a symmetrical development that under all circumstances they may find resources within themselves to cope with every problem which life may offer them for solution. History teaches us that advance in civilization is marked by a corresponding advance in general musical training; that with increase of artistic appreciation comes not only the desire but the ability to live on a higher plane morally and intellectually; that the concomitants of this higher plane are still higher degrees of culture and refinement, loftier aims, nobler deeds--a plane of pure living and right thinking that will go far towards bringing Tennyson's noble conception of that "nobler Eden " to a possibility of realization, and making it the rightful inheritance of the generations to follow us.
' AS GRADE WORK
MUSIC AS A REGULAR AND REQUIRED BRANCH OF
AARON GOVE, DENVER, ('OLORADO.
It has been demonstrated that the study of the elements of vocal music can be placed in the course for the schools and its accomplishment required in the same way and upon the same basis as is that of arithmetic, grammar and geography. No material difference exists between the execution of the scheme for music and that for arithmetic; the number of pupils who from natural defects should be excused is no greater in one than in the other. The work assigned for each grade, the tests as to the accomplishment of the tasks, the holding of the pupil for the satisfactory performance of his assign
all are in line with requirements in other branches. The conduct of the class differs from others only that, like penmanship, more concert recitation is required. Yet individual recitation is helpful, and must frequently be demanded.
The instruction should be given and the drill conducted by the teacher who is regularly in charge of the room, and with the same regularity and same energy as that of spelling.
The purpose of the pursuit of the study is identical with that of coördinate branches: an expert accountant or an eminent rhetorician is not made by studying the elements of arithmetic or grammar in an elementary school ; neither is an accomplished musician to be graduated from the common school. The young person at the end of his course, wherever he may leave it, is relatively as advanced in music as he is in the rest of the work; and when the eight or twelve years are accomplished, he is able to read and sing as well as he is to write and compute. Not as an accomplishment, but as a part of that training that goes to make the intelligent citizen, is this branch to be required.
A fallacy is abroad among us that many able teachers, skillful and efficient in other directions, are unequal to the grade-work in music. It has been found that where a teacher is absolutely incompetent for this duty, the cases are so rare as not to be noticeable.
A competent supervisor is a necessity; the supervision must not be a lazy one. Lazy supervisors are not of rare appearance in the music line. One director of music can competently superintend two hundred teachers, devoting his entire time to inspection and instruction, frequently assembling them by grades, out of school hours, for special instruction.
The ability of the teacher to sing has little to do with the teaching; indeed, if she can sing, she must not. In singing, as in reading, the pupil, not the teacher, is to do the practicing. It must be remembered that in all teaching, imitation is the last expedient to which the teacher should resort. The ear should enable the instructor to detect glaring inaccuracies; but even the defect of a faulty ear is measurably overcome by the pupils, for in all but the beginning grades, voices are ever in the room that are correct in time and tune, and will cover and bring up the erring ones. The study of the elements of music has no more dependence upon ability to sing than has the study of percentage.
The practice daily required is a task, and not necessarily a pleasure to the class. The recitation must be considered as are all others, and the results must be accounted for in the same way. The misfortune has been, and is, that the music of the schools is regarded as an extra, and not as a regular. It has a place upon the daily program; it is the most conveniently omitted.
Excuses should be granted only for excellent reasons, and then by the authority of the superintendent; it is possible to reduce the excuses to a minimum by cultivating such an opinion in the schools as shall lead the pupil to expect no excuse: unless the same or a like reason would excuse from other branches, one for music must be refused.
Song-singing, while a pleasant feature of the room, is a small part of the legitimate work, and is related to the main study in hand as is a special reading, declamation, or oration, to the study of reading.
As a reason for placing this branch among the obligatory branches to be taught, too much stress has been laid upon the happy influence of music in the school. It is true that the quieting intluence of song is helpful in discipline, and it is also true that geography, well taught, has a happy effect. Change is desirable. Monotony in school life, as in adult life, is harmful.
Fair condemnation can be given to the common song-singing of the common school. Too often, not merely a negative harm is done by the work, but a positive injury follows the execrable execution of the ordinary school song, as it frequently reaches the ear of the hearer. The teacher, principal, and superintendent, each is blamable for the vitiated tastes of children who pretend the study of music; the literature is often abominable, while the rant and roar of the children, who are not taught the difference between noise and song, cause men and women of culture to condemn the methods.
Skill and professional intelligence is a requisite in this as in all other departments. No song should be permitted until it has received the approval of the musical director. “The Tardy Song," "Billy Boy," and "I Want to be an Angel,” would then be assigned to outer darkness, where such effusions belong.
With many of us the printed course of study presents an acceptable course in music; a personal inspection too often demonstrates that the work fails to conform to the text. As long as the average school prospectus continues to overstate the truth and the annual issue of school documents are so replete with imaginative statements evolved from the ambitions of mistaken school men and women, you and I must learn the truth about grade-work in the schools, including music and the kindred study of drawing, by personal inspection and by a comparison of work and notes at conventions such as is this.
Forty years ago, Mr. Baker commenced the teaching of music in the Boston schools. It was the beginning. I remember the effort. We learned little but rote-songs. Progress has been made; and yet so much remains to be done that I incline to the belief that the country will be more efficient in public-school education, if efforts are concentrated upon improving the work and methods of what is already in hand, rather than by dissipating the energy in the various new directions now urging upon the schools by zealous but mistaken reformers.
VALUE OF THE TONIC SOL-FA NOTATIOV.
ROBERT H. BEGGS, DENVER, COLORADO.
To be successful in this age one should know everything of something, and something of everything; his vocation makes the one necessary, his relation to society demands the other. When one's specialty is the teaching of a single subject, his tendency is to insist that this subject is the one thing about which everything should be known. Our supervisors of drawing ask time enough to make artists of all public-school pupils; the special teacher in gymnastics asks for time to develop athletes; the arithmetic teacher would produce both lightning calculators and profound mathematicians; and so on, through the list. But the grammar school cannot make specialists in all things — it should not make specialists in anything. You, whom I have the honor of addressing this afternoon, would have children leave the eighth grade with the eye, ear, and voice of a trained vocalist, and your ambition is a laudable one; but the school authorities say to you, as to all other special teachers, “You cannot have the necessary time.” I am aware that it is claimed by many that this high standard can be attained in the fifty to seventy-five minutes per week allotted you, and am also aware that in public tests you seem to make good this claim as to reading at sight; but I do not forget that concert work is always deceptive. I remember how often I have heard a class of fifty children repeat in unison a table or a sentence that not ten could repeat alone. Neither do I forget that a majority of eighth-grade pupils have taken private lessons in music, spending hours each week, year after year, in painstaking practice in reading. I know full well that it is claimed that these pupils read no better than others; that reading readily by letter is no help in reading by syllable. This point I do not propose to argue.
I shall not point out the fact that in sight-singing, in the true sense of the term, the syllables are not necessarily thought of — merely the tone. I shall simply say that those who are in doubt upon this point can easily settle it for themselves by selecting in some fair way, equal numbers of those