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PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS
THE ULTIMATE OBJECT OF MUSIC STUDY IN THE
BY P. C. HAYDEN, QUINCY, ILL.
The value of education to the individual must be found in its effect on the soul; in its influence as an element in character-forming. No consideration of ultimate values is adequate unless it weighs the wellbeing of the immortal part of man. As educators we assume that the formation of worthy character is the ultimate object of all education.
Some good men say that the public schools do not recognize this great truth, and are opposed to them on this account; but it is safe to say that most teachers work to build up good characters as well as to develop accurate scholarship.
It is hard to estimate how great is the value, in this character-building, of a true love for nature and God's handiwork in creation. That this love for nature is an important element in noble character has been recognized by the poets and seers of all ages.
“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So is it now I am a man;
Or let me die !
Bound each to each by natural piety.” This love for nature has stirred the hearts of all the world's great ones, and makes all feel the brotherhood of a common origin.
Three years ago, when in attendance at the National Educational Association at Buffalo, it was my pleasure to hear three representative educators make addresses before this Department of Music Education on the subject of “Music in the Public Schools." You will all recognize the names, and you all know the reputations borne by these men of national fame.
The official branch of the school system was represented by Dr. W.T. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education ; the collegiate branch by Dr. G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, Worcester, Mass.; the normal branch by Colonel F. W. Parker, of the Cook County Normal School, Chicago.
These three men appeared at different hours and sessions, and each did not hear the others speak. They were, however, a unit in their estimate of the place of music in school life. They each said that music was the most important study in the school course.
President Hall spoke first. I suspected that, to make his remarks pleasant to the audience of school music teachers to whom he was talking, he had made statements he would hardly care to maintain in a coldblooded argument. When Colonel Parker followed, he took even stronger ground in stating the importance of music in education. I mentally put him in the suspected class with Dr. Hall.
To make the very last talk in our department came the venerable Dr. Harris, and when he took the same extreme view, I was forced to doubt my suspicion. I could not entertain the belief that these three men, representative in a national sense, would all say what they did not believe to be true.
Ever since that time I have been trying to get to a standpoint where I could say the same thing and give reasons for my belief, for I became convinced that these men spoke from a deeper insight into the human soul, and with a more just appreciation of the real values in life, than I could claim.
In Springfield, Ill., at the last meeting of the Illinois Teachers' Association, Superintendent E. A. Gastman, of Decatur, the nestor of the Illinois school superintendents, added the testimony of an active and experienced superintendent, and took the same position, stating, in an address before the music section of the association, that some time ago he had told his school board that music was the most important study in the Decatur schools.
This brief paper leaves me a very short time in which to attempt to tell why these representative schoolmen place so high a value on music in education, and I can say only a part of what I have in mind. I must ask you to let your imaginations carry out to completion the line of reasoning which I have time only to suggest.
I am coming more and more to the belief that these four men of learning, of training, and of practical experience were right, and I think I have in mind a suggestion of a demonstration of the correctness of their convictions, tho I know I shall fall far short of a demonstration in my remarks to you today.
I shall attempt to show that music holds a very important place in the development of the emotional, mental, and moral qualities of mankind. I would add, especially in the development of the higher, nobler attributes in childhood. It is with the child we deal in the schools, and my address today is written with the child in view, and the arguments I advance are especially intended to show the influence of music on the nature of the young.
I believe that, to improve the life of the individual in any broad and general sense, we must teach a just estimate of life-values ; of the superiority of the Creator over the created; that the man is more valuable than what he earns; that the pleasurable activity and enjoyments of the mental, emotional, and æsthetic faculties are more to be desired than the satiety of the appetites, or than the pleasure of personal adornment; and I believe that these things must be taught at the receptive period of life, in childhood and youth. Modern psychology informs us that the foundation for all future achievements is laid at this early period ; that after thirty no entirely new thought germs are planted and brought to fruition. To gain maturity in middle age they must have been planted in childhood.
We certainly agree in believing that the proper training of a child brings into healthful activity his mental, his emotional, and his moral facul. ties. These faculties are not easy to reach thru number work or spelling. Music is the study that appeals most directly and most forcibly to this part of the child's nature. We do not wish to assume an extreme position in placing a very high value on music in the nurture and development of this divine part of man. Each attribute of human nature has its proper function and its proper place in education. We must, then, realize that the only adequate education is a training that reaches the heart and the soul as well as the intellect; a training that will fit one for the enjoyment of life as well as for its maintenance. In the long run this is the most practical education, too; for the happy, contented man or woman does more work successfully, and bears more burdens without breaking, than the poor soul who knows no pleasures but those of the body and of cold intellect.
Music is of the highest value in education, because it supplies in an attractive and effective manner the very elements that are so often wanting in modern life. The average American boy is born with the notion that the most important thing in the world is to make some money; that all his time should be given to preparing himself to work for wages; and that, if he does prepare himself to fill a position that will bring him a livelihood, he is doing all that should be expected of him. In other words,
, he places the skill of his eye or his hand above his own worth, and makes what he can do of more importance than what he is. No philosopher, no college president, no great preacher, no educated man would contend for an instant that it adds more to a man's worth in a community that he could shoe a horse well than that he was kind-hearted, patriotic, and welleducated. I take the position that music educates the child, not to make him bring a higher price in the labor market, but to make him a broader, better man in mind and heart.
It would now be proper to ask how music adds a valuable element to education which is not derived from arithmetic, geography, or spelling: I would answer : Because music is nature's way, is God's way, of appealing to the deeper nature, to the finer feelings. Thru music creation speaks to the individual and calls out a love for the race. The rhythm that controls the movement of music is the same that controls the movement of the spheres, and it touches the youthful heart because it is a part of God's great plan. The things that really move and mold humanity are, after all, the things that touch the common heart and lay hold of the great common feelings of mankind.
Nothing that is the common property of man does this so completely as music. The exact character of its influence and operation can be explained no more than you can exactly explain the influence of a noble picture, of a garden of beautiful flowers, of a park of lofty forest trees, or of a grand outlook whence may be seen the glories of a lovely sunset, or of a broad stretch of river and forest and landscape. We
may say, however, that music appeals to an appreciation and love of the beautiful which exists in every young heart, and which should be assiduously cultivated by those who control child-training.
Far, far too soon the majority of children leave the training of school to take up the long struggle for sustenance, and happy indeed is the one who has in him the greatest capacity for loving and enjoying God's wonderful creation. All the lessons in all the books are not so important as to learn to live happily, drawing pleasure from the free gifts of the uni
Teach a child to love the sun and breeze of the day, the sunset and coming of the night bringing the moon and stars, all the beautiful gifts of God, and you make this world an abode of happiness and his life a benefaction to himself and his fellows.
It is this element of nature, this message from the heart of God, that music puts into the school course, puts into the church service, and puts into the home. You cannot tell what this element is nor describe its working, but we all feel it swaying our emotions, speaking for our heavengiven intuitions, appealing to the best that is in our beings.
When I think of music in this way, as the voice of nature speaking to the child heart and calling out the pure, innocent emotions of the being so lately part of God's own self; for, as Wordsworth says,
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
And cometh from afar.
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home.
- I say, when I think of the vast importance of keeping in the closest possible relations with the invisible realities, and of sustaining the soul's purer and higher life, I can understand the extreme position taken by those four notable men in speaking of music and its value in education and in life.
In a brief glance at history we may see in one nation the effect on national character and achievement of an education founded on music. Just beside this nation we may see another that had no music in its system of education, and actively opposed the pursuit of music by its citizens.
These two nationalities struggled for supremacy in Greece thru centuries. Sparta excelled in producing fighting men, but dreaded with superstitious fear the supposed enervating influences of literature, poetry: art, and music. It even feared the influences of a mother's love, and the state took the future warrior from his mother's arms almost in baby. hood and trained him in brutality even as Rome trained her gladiators.
An instance recorded by Plutarch shows the extent to which the Spartans carried the fear of any æsthetic influences. He writes that “ Timotheus, a Milesian, was a celebrated poet and musician. He added a twelfth string to the harp, for which he was severely punished by the sage Spartans, who concluded that the luxury of sound would enervate the people.”
Athens remains today the great fountain of art, poetry, sculpture, and music, and history tells us that music was part of all the study of poetry, literature, and such sciences as were then known. They sang and chanted all the lessons in these departments. The great Aristotle advocated and perfected this system. I need not describe the results of this education in this presence.
You know the record. Sparta! What is her record ? Her brute force died with the stalwart bodies of her sons, and she left no record in literature, art, poetry, music. Two paragraphs from the encyclopædia sum up the end of Spartan influence : “ The site of the city has not been thoroly investigated, and it is a question whether much remains worth bringing to life.” The second is: “She sank finally, we know not how, under the degrading dominion of a sort of robber chief (Nabis), who fastened his dominion upon her by the support of emancipated slaves and mercenaries of the lowest class. Her best citizens were put to death or banished, and she was debased into a refuge of pirates and robbers.”
It is not the province of this paper to discuss how music should be taught in the schools to secure to the child the greatest good from its study. That is another question well worthy of discussion, for every earnest teacher will spare no pains to make his work of the highest possible value to the school and to each individual therein.
It is rather our purpose to maintain that the development of the