Page images
PDF
EPUB

WHAT SHOULD CONSTITUTE A COURSE OF MUSIC FOR

COUNTY INSTITUTES?

[ocr errors][merged small]

Music, in the department of sight singing, is one of the late introductions into the school curriculum, and probably has not received the careful attention and preparation that some of the other studies have. We often hear of unsatisfactory results in music work thruout the whole country, and I believe the fault lies in the fact that teachers do not bring into play the true philosophy of all teaching. To be effectual, music must be presented with the same broad-mindedness necessary to the successful presentation of any branch of study. Music is in the child, but needs awakening. Remember, we are simply to draw out that which lies within ; the fire is there, we simply fan it into a flame.

The county institute offers a fine opportunity to stimulate and excite fresh interest in this important subject. In giving a course of instruction for county institutes there is much to be considered. No prescribed course could fit the needs of every institute. For instance, a course which I would plan for an intellectual center would be entirely different from one planned for an ungraded school on the plains. The conditions and advantages differ widely, and bring forth different requirements One point is absolutely sure and applies to any locality, and that is that the more practical a course can be made, the greater the benefit derived from it. I should arrange to have teachers do actual schoolroom work, when it is possible, and thus have theory and practice go hand in hand. There is a difference between understanding good methods and having a working knowledge of them. We, as teachers, must have working knowledge -- that is power.

Generally, the first thing to be considered is the care of the child's voice. In our schools we are working with weak, growing organs, and we cannot be too careful to protect them in every possible way. The following suggestions I believe to be of very great importance, and are indispensable in securing a good quality of voice. Have children sing very softly, and restrict them in compass. If these two rules are applied in each grade, if pupils sing softly enough, and carry their tones neither too high nor too low, then the voice will only be used in the thin or head register, and the tones of the thick or chest register, which I would avoid using with young children, will not be heard. These two rules must act as one and must be enforced. We shall soon find that we are not only protecting the young, tender voices, but are securing pure tones of beautiful quality, and musical singing will be the result. Let us melt all

voices into one, and always secure quality of tone and not quantity. Never allow one tone to be forced, and remember voice production, whether good or poor, is largely the result of habit. Nature will attend to the development, if we will but protect the voices. Bear in mind that the child voice is physiologically incapable of producing tones that are both powerful and sweet. Keep the voices within the staff, and never dwell on a very high or a very low tone. Approach these seldom, and then just touch them lightly. Be sure no changed or changing voices are strained in any way. Sing often the word “loo,” for “loo" is conducive of a beautiful mellow quality. Insist at all times on the correct position of the mouth : heads up, chin down, and lips extended.

Next let me refer to articulation ; for distinct articulation produces clear intonation. Train the lips to flexibility. Urge the child to feel that the jaw moves on loose hinges. Bring the thought to his mind that he is singing with his lips and not his throat. The use of the syllables is a help in securing correct articulation. The study and practice of phonics, so generally used in reading, are valuable. The occasional “monotoning” of a poem is an excellent exercise. The methods for securing good articulation in reading will be found helpful in singing. Speak consonants in a bright, crisp manner, and vowels will take care of themselves.

I do not advocate a great number of breathing exercises, for children naturally breathe correctly, and if their attention is drawn to the breath, they are apt to exaggerate the effort and form bad habits. I would give teachers only a few general rules, and dispense with the breathing exercises so often given.

Rote singing is an important branch in primary work. I believe rote singing should be used the first three years of school life, or until children have acquired the ability to learn songs by note. Teachers should sing for the children, but not with them. Train them to listen correctly as well as to sing correctly. When giving an example in song, in one's own voice, be sure to give the best tone quality, correct articulation, and artistic expression. Select songs with the greatest care, and bear in mind that we want to cultivate a high musical taste. We can lay the foundation at once by teaching only the best. Be sure and put into the child's soul something of the soul of music. If songs are written too high or too low, change the key in order to keep voices within the staff. Don't allow children to drag ; keep them up to time. Be very careful in the use of the portamento; never allow one careless tone either in the singing voice or the speaking voice.

In sight singing the two units to be considered are tune and time. I should take up these subjects separately and have the institute do the actual schoolroom work. Let me bring before your minds four educational principles which are very valuable in the teaching of all music: first, present the real thing to the child's mind, as an object of thought; second, name it; third, represent it; and fourth, develop it. Teach the scale first by imitation, and remember it cannot be grounded too well ; second, name it; third, represent it; and fourth, develop as a whole, and later the relation of its parts. Stimulate thought ork, and never allow children to anticipate, but surprise them often. Encourage individual effort from the beginning.

In the teaching of time I advocate most emphatically the use of a metronome, or a swinging pendulum, and believe in beginning the teach. ing of time early in the first year. We must secure accurate time before we can get artistic time. First establish the mental image of a two-part measure, name it, then represent it, and later develop it with a metronome. Then proceed in the same way with all the simple forms of a two-part measure. Bring out accent with the words strong and weak, and make children feel the accent. Then give tests in time as in tune. I would have the institute actually do this work.

Next combine tune and time in a simple exercise in this manner: first, establish time with metronome; second, sing syllables; third, combine tune and time ; fourth, vocalize with a word. After taking up all the simple measures of two-four time, and combining tune and time, I would follow the same plan with four-four time, three-four time, etc.

Develop all difficulties either in tune or time by dictation or by a simple illustration on the board, before taking up the given exercise, and remember to lead from the child's former knowledge. Be sure to bring out accent; for what is rhythm but the regular recurrence of accent? Impress children that the tones are from their voices and the notes are simple representations.

Knowledge of chromatic and minor scales, if followed in this simple manner, leading from the known to the unknown, can very easily be developed. Be sure to direct the pupils in right thinking and practice, and their musical faculties will show surprising development. Lead children to become independent thinkers in music. Half our work should be spent in exciting the minds of the pupils to action.

I have dealt principally with the mere mechanics of music, because this groundwork must be firmly established before we can take up the intellectual side. By a thoro, systematic drill in the two units, as I speak of them, our classes can soon approach the higher plane. Sight reading is merely a means to an end, a stepping-stone to the right musical rendering

Do not ever teach sight singing with an instrument, for mental development and independence would thereby suffer. Use a pitch pipe very frequently with each practice, and thus keep voices up to correct pitch. Teach all musical characters incidentally up to the fifth grade. Examine voices carefully for part singing, considering range, quality, and age. Give special care to signs of expression, for singing without expression is like a painting without a shadow. Be sure to plant in the child's soul something of the soul of music. To acquire the unity of song singing, of course the teacher must beat the time. If children have gained the comprehension of absolute, accurate time, they will readily follow the baton.

A few general hints and I will conclude. Have a method and an aim, and see the end at the beginning. Arrange a systematic course of study, and follow it day by day; for, remember, regular work builds up and irregular tears down. Have short, daily lessons, and keep at a principle until it is thoroly understood. Lay your firm foundation in music, as in all else, at the threshold of school life.

It is related of Michael Angelo, the great sculptor, that “while at work he wore fastened on his artist's cap a lighted candle, that no shadow of himself might fall upon his work.” It was a beautiful custom and spoke a more eloquent lesson than he realized. How often our shadows fall upon our work!

DISCUSSION

Mrs. CONSTANCE B. SMITH, Jacksonville, Ill. The subject of county institutes is a very important one. The plan which works successfully in my county is very briefly this: A course in music has been adopted in the country schools thruout the county. The teachers come to me for guidance, and to have their lessons marked out, with definite instructions as to what to teach and the best ways of arriving at desired results. In this way a certain uniformity of work is brought about, and better work is done than if there was no definite aim.

MRS. FRANCES M. CLARK, Ottumwa, la.- I commend what has been said. The fault of poor articulation seems a very grave one. I have used very satisfactorily a device of Frederick Root — taking the alphabet in pantomime to loosen the vocal organs. I have selected some familiar poem, as “ The Psalm of Life,” and had the pupils pantomime the words. Sometimes 1 allow them to select some stanza for themselves, and let me see if they can pantomime the recital of the words so well that I can tell what they are repeating. The country teachers fail mainly in securing thought, and hence expression, from their pupils. To secure this end I have often taught familiar songs, as “The Star-Spangled Banner," or Longfellow's “ The Rainy Day,” taking as preliminary work the analysis of the meaning and thought so fully as to cause the children to see the picture in the song. Get the thought, and the expression will come --- from within.

DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS EDUCATION

SECRETARY'S MINUTES

FIRST SESSION.-WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 1899 The meeting of the department was called to order in the Young Men's Christian Association Building at 3 P. M. by the president, Allan Davis, Washington, D. C.

The program was opened by a piano solo by Miss Myra Shearer, Los Angeles, Cal.

President Davis gave the annual address, taking as his subject “The BusinessCourse Problem."

L. E. Eggertsen, Provo City, Utah, presented a paper on the subject, “Necessity for Moral Training in Commercial Colleges.” „W. H. Sadler, Baltimore, Md., discussed

the paper.

“Is English Neglected in the Commercial Schools ? " was the subject of a paper presented by W. C. Ramsey, Stockton, Cal. The discussion following was participated in by C. E. Howard, San Francisco, Cal.; W. C. Stevenson, Emporia, Kan., and I. v. Crissy, Albany, N. Y.

C. E. Howard, president of the San Francisco Business College, presented a paper

“How I Conduct a Business-Community School." D. W. Springer, Ann Arbor, Mich., and J. H. Francis, Los Angeles, Cal., participated in the discussion.

The department adjourned to meet July 13.

on

SECOND SESSION.—THURSDAY, JULY 13

The second session of the department convened at 3 P. M., and the program was opened with music by the California-Oregon Quartette, composed of members of the depart

ment.

A paper by J. M. Mehan, Des Moines, Ia., on “An Adequate Course of Study for the Business Colleges” was read,, in the absence of the author, by D. W. Springer. The department voted to request the United States Commissioner of Education to publish the paper and give it general circulation. Messrs. Davis, Springer, and Crissy were appointed as a committee to make the request for the department.

The question, “What Foreign Languages, if Any, should be Taught in the Commercial Schools ?” was freely discussed by the department.

W. H. Sadler, Baltimore, Md., conducted a question box to the edification and enjoy. ment of all.

The election of officers for the ensuing year resulted as follows :
President - Carl C. Marshall, Battle Creek, Mich.
Vice-President- M. B. Wicks, Philadelphia, Pa.
Secretary-1.0. Crissy, Albany, N. Y.
Chairman, Executive Committee - W.C. Stevenson, Emporia, Kan.
Adjourned to meet July 14.

THIRD SESSION.- FRIDAY, JULY 14
The session was called to order at 3 P. M. by President Davis.

The orchestra of the business department of the Los Angeles High School rendered most pleasing selections.

« PreviousContinue »