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not have taught theory at all, believing, as I do, that the study of singing should be nine-tenths practice. The examination, then, being wholly theoretical, becomes a mere farce, and is not a true index of the character of the whole work done. The question arises, then, Shall examinations be abolished, or shall they be made practical ?
When I entered upon my present work, I found there a system of semiannual examinations in theory in grades above the primary. These were kept up for two years, principally for holding-up purposes. At that time the applications for excuse from music were many, but the excused pupils were made responsible equally with the others in the examinations. The last two years no examinations have been required in music, and no pupils excused. Those pupils who would be excused from the music-lesson are re. quired to sit in good position, to own and hold a book, and give their best attention, but are not required to sing unless they so choose. The result is, that many so-called un musical pupils fall into line and do fair work. Success in this, however, depends much upon the bearing of the regular teacher, and her skill in handling the class. Thus, rebellion, not being expected, nor countenanced when it exists, seldom occurs, and the resulting attitude of pupils, however unmusical, toward the study of music is very much more satisfactory. I find no examinations, with other conditions thus properly modified, to be better than mere theoretical examinations, and I hope that, as teachers become stronger in use of practical methods, the possibility of successful practical examinations may increase.
The most effectual examination is the vigilant daily watchfulness of the teacher, giving attention to the individual without relaxing her grasp upon the class. This presupposes good discipline and teaching ability, which should be expected of the average teacher.
While teachers generally agree as to the relative importance of practice and theory, yet many do not practice what they preach. As a rule, teachers teach theory abstractly from practice. Some teachers devote a few minutes of each lesson to theory; others give entire lessons in theory periodically; some give certain weeks to theory; and one teacher of my acquaintance carries the abstraction to the extent of giving it during certain months of the year. I do not believe in teaching theory as such at all, but would rather lead the pupils to do the things necessary to make them intelligent readers by the use of such practical methods as will develop the necessary. knowledge of theory unconsciously to the pupils.
The regular teacher is justly held responsible for the maintenance of discipline in her school; and as good discipline is more necessary to success in music than is scholarship, on the part of the teacher, it becomes a matter of vital importance to the special teacher. The special teacher, visiting all schools, as he frequently does, has superior opportunities for discovering the best disciplined schools (which he duly appreciates), and quite naturally becomes so critical of the discipline that he will often unconsciously estimate the success of a forthcoming lesson immediately upon entering a
I do not regard the subject of voice-culture as second in importance to that of the art of reading. But as reading can best be taught in childhood, it naturally comes first. Care and management of the voice, however, should not be neglected, and though of the utmost importance, may be made purely incidental. Concerning voice-care, there is no general direction which may be so easily understood and followed, as that schools sing softly and in the medium range. If all teachers would remember this advice and practice it, no injury to voices would result from singing in the schools; and the tone of the writings of voice specialists, relative to the alleged pernicious effects of public-school singing, would materially change. Special vocal exercises may be necessary for adults who may have lost their natural voices by loud, boisterous and meaningless singing, but they are no more suitable nor necessary for public-school children than are the remedies of the invalid necessary for the prevention of disease in children.
Educators in the line of school-music are fast coming to believe that the very best age for the actual study of music is the earlier years of schoollife. It is true that much more interest can be created in the lower grades than in the higher, and that in the higher grades there is a falling off of interest because of attention to other matters of alleged greater importance, of the change in boys' voices, etc. There are other difficulties in the way of the higher-grade music of the schools where I teach, which I suppose is true of any rapidly-growing city, bringing, as it does, children of all ages and attainment, a very small percentage of which had training in music commensurate with that in other branches upon which they depend for grade. In most manufacturing cities, especially where education is not compulsory, the average school-life is much shorter than in other cities. With these facts in mind, it behooves us then to make the best possible prog. ress with music in the lower grades, where the conditions are naturally the most favorable. I would not monopolize the child's time for the study of music, but would rather economize in the use of the time which justly belongs to it. This may be promoted by strict adherence to educational principles, and by promptness with the lesson.
I have said that I consider argument in favor of music as a school study unnecessary before this assembly; but I cannot forbear quoting a few words of wisdom from Dr. Duryea, who says:
“Music assists in sharpening the powers of discrimination. It checks impulsive mental action, makes it deliberate and rhythmical. It provides for movement in concert with others, and causes the mind to accustom itself to sympathetic action with other minds.
"Music in the home, in social gatherings, in common assemblies of the people, relaxes the strain of life.'releases from its cares and vexations, soothes its pains and sorrows, and harmonizes mind with mind and heart with heart. If vocal music shall become general in this country, it will ease the frictions of life, inspire contentment, promote cheerfulness, and aid in bringing to pass the era of good-feeling and good-will."
ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FOR THE YEAR ENDING JULY 1, 1890.
Alexander, J. E., Sheffield.
Ivey, M. E., Birmingham.
Sanderson, H. W., Eutaw.