BY A. L. MANCHESTER.
WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR INSPIRATION?
The value to either pupil or teacher of anything which will supply freshness of thought and method or give a new impulse to the professional life cannot be gainsaid.
A life which, by its very character and environment, is inclined to a monotonous reiteration of its daily experiences is very greatly in need of some source of supply for its ideal nature. It is all too easy to fall into the way of doing things always the same, and from this to complete subjection to routine is but a short step.
A successful teacher, a teacher who draws happiness and complete enjoyment from his teaching, must have within him wells of inspiration continually sending out streams of life-giving drink to satisfy his mental thirst.
Unfortunately, we are not all so placed that we may receive help from purely outside sources. The numerous activities of musical centres may be denied us. We may hear few concerts, we may meet few musicians with whom we can exchange experiences and strike new fire for future enthusiasm. What are such to do? is a really important question. They must move onward or suffer loss, and to move onward there must be something to give the impulse. Companionship is a mighty factor in such conditions, but this is denied them. What, then, shall they do? I answer, they must make their own inspiration. This can be done. One who wishes may receive encouragement, clearer vision, new impulses, advanced ideas, renewed vigor, from many humdrum, every-day events. To do so he must cultivate his mental perception; he must arouse himself to watchfulness, and, above all, he must train himself to receptivity.
Those who read these lines, however, have another source of inspiration almost equal to personal companionship—you can read the thoughts of others who are doing like work as yourself. You may come in contact with their minds, if not their personalities; you may gather words of encouragement and inspiration from their experiences. Your journal will bring to you many items of information concerning musical doings which happened far away from you but which are brought directly to your home. You may learn how others are doing work and overcoming difficulties just like your own.
Musical history, past and current, is reviewed for your benefit. You read of great schools of music; of individuals who, by prodigious effort, have risen above their fellows; and as they rise, each little event of their lives and struggles is discussed in your presence. You learn how they practiced, how they taught, how they met disappointment, how they persevered until final success was reached. And can you not draw from this great good for yourself?
When you read that at certain schools, now famous the world over, pupils, in their early days, were compelled to practice with their pianos back to back and side by side, harmony lessons were written in a room where pandemonium reigned, and contrast such surroundings with your advanced opportunities for study, and when you remember that from the unpromising conditions just named have come some of the most famous names in musical history, can you not go to your work with greater courage and firmer resolves?
Reading and thinking are the most fertile sources of inspiration, and if you would be contented with your lot, read, think, and digest your mental food. If you will be on the alert you will find many things in your daily life which may become the instigation of thought and grow into new theories and higher ideals.
The Etude offers you the “Flotsam and Jetsam” column as a source of inspiration if you will so use it, with the freedom of writing to it on any line in which you think it may help you; and it remains with you to make it valuable to you.
There is an art in stimulating one’s self to new effort. To one who has learned this art, each day is fruitful in interesting experiences As many do not know how to gather this fruit, it is our object to put before you matters which contain valuable suggestions in a way which will cause you to extract lessons for yourself in addition to any comments we may make.
What lessons do you draw from the following clipping? Read it, sit down and seriously think upon it. Is such a feeling extant now? What is its effect upon the one who permits himself to be possessed by it? Preach a little sermon to your pupils upon it, taking this clipping as your text, and you will have done something toward inspiring yourself as well:—
The artistic soul is consumed by an awful canker. The tenor says to himself unceasingly, day and night: “Why do others attempt to sing ‘Faust’ while I am in the world?” The pianist says: “How silly it is for these fellows to go about playing two concertos and a Liszt fantasy in one evening, when I—the only I on earth—play Beethoven’s five concertos, all of Liszt’s Hungarian fantasies, and Chopin’s scherzos in one programme? When it is over they take the audience away in ambulances.” The soprano says: “My compass is from A flat below to G in alt. I sing 142 measures of trills, scales, and staccati without stopping for luncheon. What right have other soprani to live? They would starve to death if they tried that.” The violinist says: “I am myself; no one else can be I am all that Joachim, Ysaye, Cesar Thomson, and Carri are, and considerably more. I play Mendelssohn’s entire concerto in octaves. Why do others live?”