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Editorials

Nothing is more lamentable than to see a good teacher fossilize. Yet this is a danger not commonly appreciated, and never apprehended by its victim. What is the cause? Self-satisfaction ends in ceasing to grow and develop. The same old round of pieces; the same old ways of teaching; the same old ruts growing deeper and deeper.

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A large field for missionary work (or is it greater zeal among present laborers?) there is, not alone in the hamlet of the far West, but at the very centers of musical activity.

Prior to this century music, being youngest of the arts, had received meager attention from men of thought, whereas for years literature, architecture, sculpture, and the art of painting had commanded intelligent consideration. Owing to this apathy the art of music has not been deemed a necessary part of the curriculum in every university and school.

Therefore its professors are not accredited scholars, rather exponents of emotional zeal; its achievements—conquests in science as well as art—are unknown to the average concert-goer, while its masterpieces rarely win fall appreciation outside of professional ranks. It will be, however, but a matter of time when music’s phases, side by side with those of the other arts, are studied as an essential aid to culture.

To teachers, then, who by tactful efforts hasten this time, will redound many advantages. So, if for no more disinterested reason, it would seem wise to emphasize the art’s scholarly claims, those phases of music which appeal to the mind, and from history’s records to prove that this art has contributed a quota toward man’s intellectual advancement well worth the attention of general scholars.

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It is a matter of comment at the present time that musicians seem to make no provision for their families in case of the sudden death of the husband and father. The recent sudden death of Prof. H. C. Banister, in England, is a case in point. His widow was left entirely unprovided for, and yet Prof. Banister had a good clientele. Other examples could be quoted, and no doubt many of our readers know of similar cases.

The question arises as to whether musicians earn so little as to be unable to lay aside for the proverbial “rainy day,” or whether the state of affairs is due to prodigality or, it may be, unbusiness-like care of financial possessions. At any rate we feel justified in pressing upon teachers who have family cares resting upon them the importance of doing all that a prudent, thoughtful, affectionate husband and father should do to protect the tender ones from the hard assaults of poverty and want. The brighter side of this state of affairs is shown in a note in the “Musical Items” column, which speaks well for the thrift of Anton Seidl, who died lately. In addition to careful investments, he availed himself of the benefits of life insurance. The best writers on character all speak of the invaluable benefit to a man’s nature arising from prudence and thrift in the use of the money that he earns from day to day.

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Does war interfere with the work of the music teacher? This is the question that every teacher is asking at this time. It will require a very serious crisis to affect the educational interests of our land. The children must be educated during war time as well as in peace. War does not affect the home duties. Our firesides are in no immediate danger. No devastating hordes of troops will cross our land; our resources will not be cut off; the routine of our daily life will go on very much the same as ever. The writer remembers well the Civil War, which was calculated to disturb almost every interest, and yet the music teachers were all as busy as ever—operas flourished, concerts were patronized. There is not the slightest danger that activity will be curtailed on account of the war with Spain. War spirit has a stimulating effect on everything. The drawing of active workers into the war will increase the demand for teachers. The children and our girls are the main dependence of the music teachers, and war does not actively concern them. The music teacher can contentedly ply his avocation in war-time, feeling assured his services will continue to be in demand even with booming of cannon at the walls of the citadel.

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A grand meeting of the Music Teachers’ National Association is being arranged for June. Under the roof of the grandest hotel in the world the music teachers can enjoy themselves for nearly a week. There is every conceivable advantage in this plan. The teachers are as one grand family; they meet one another not alone at the formal meetings in the hall of the hotel, but in the corridor, at the table, everywhere that one may turn. This gives better opportunities for social culture. If the social success of the meeting be assured, the rest will follow. A notice of the plan of the meeting will be found in another column.

The Association is worthy of the united support of the profession. Its officers are striving unselfishly and manfully to make this a representative meeting.

The purpose of the Association is the elevation of the profession. Every teacher in every State and city should do his part in supporting the organization. We need organization—where the wrongs of the professors are exposed, where measures for protection are established, where methods are discussed, where productions of native composers can have a public hearing. All teachers need the benefit which comes from contact of mind with mind. There is no better cure for provincialism, egotism,

and dry rot than rubbing up against your brethren in art. Many a promising musician has been ruined because false ideas were allowed to flourish and take possession, of him. Of all classes of workers, the musician most of all needs the stimulus of outside influence. He gets this largely at these gatherings, where he makes acquaintances and hears other musicians. We hope that the grip of every teacher in the land will be packed for New York, which has promised to give us a royal welcome.

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Said a business man to a member of the musical profession, anent the present war spirit and the call for volunteers: “I suppose they have no need for musicians at the front.” Just how the expression was meant was by no means clear, yet the inference was that war and its active prosecution are too practical and severe for music and musicians. It may be that he had in mind the rather common view that the art—as well as many of its professors—partakes of the effeminate, and is by no means fitted for the stern practicalities inseparable from a state of warfare. And yet musicians, as well as other devotees of the arts and muses, have proven themselves, in time of need, as courageous and enduring as other men, perhaps even more so if the rack of their more susceptible nervous system is taken into consideration. Things that would ruffle the equanimity of an artist would pass off many another man as water from a duck’s back. The follower of an art must cultivate keen susceptibilities in order to be a true artist. So much the greater is his endurance if he lives down these things and bears all trials as any brave man should.

No. Art does not, of necessity, emasculate its followers; the rather does it cultivate that spirit of fixity of purpose, that reckless, dashing enthusiasm that leads a possessor to heroic deeds that succeed beyond all reason. The artist’s fiery earnestness and self-devotion are part of the stuff of which heroes are made.

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It is not long since “temperament” was the word that fell easiest from the musical critic’s pen. Paderewski’s playing excelled above all others because of his display of temperament; Rosenthal was a disappointment because of his lack of temperament; Miss Spieler was about to create a furor in the artistic world because of her abundant supply of temperament; while Miss Pounder, although her technic seemed exhaustless, was doomed to failure because of her unfortunate deficiency in the matter of temperament.

And so the critics wrote; wrote people up and wrote people down. Temperament was the word to conjure with, the proper word to bring into their reports at some place or other; and the man who could serve it up in the largest variety of combinations was held to excel his fellows. But did any of them stop to define the word in its latest musical application? If so, the present writer does not remember to have seen the definition. It was not like charity, covering a multitude of sins, for rather it covered a multitude of good points, some of them rather elusive of expression or description by the manipulators of words.

Some writers wrote of personal magnetism, others of musical intuition, and still others of delicate sensibilities. But it was so much easier for the most to lump it all together and call it temperament.

But the nub of the matter is this: Are we not too apt to lay at the door of temperament those satisfying results that always arise from understanding the application of means to end, of an appreciation of cause and effect? In other words, do we not frequently fail to see that much artistic good that we ascribe to that indefinable God-given something called temperament really has its origin in months and years of solid brain-work, assisted by that ever-to-be-desired element of good common sense?

Temperament of itself produces nothing. Work, hard work, will produce nearly anything. Work plus temperament gives a sum-total of all that is desirable. And temperament, or at least what is frequently called such, may be but the results of good work and good sense. But still there is much that must be innate,—that can not be acquired by work.

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It is pleasant to see pupils love and revere a teacher, but how much more is it incumbent upon a teacher to make certain that he deserves the confidence and trust of those committed to his charge! A character in a formative state is no light responsibility if within the sphere of our influence.

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Pure melody is no doubt a thing of beauty, and pleasing to all hearers, and perhaps doubly so to pupils, since it involves in its execution much of the sensuous side of our nature, and we are in a mood of greater excitement in such cases than in others. But the teacher needs to touch the intellect of the pupil. Who can help him to do this like Bach? Polyphony partakes of the intellectual, and is necessary in a course of study that is based on broad, systematic training-principles.

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Aim high, we are told. Always have an object in life. Have you ever noticed that if you stick to one ambition closely and persistently something comes to you? Oftener than not, however, it is a modification of the ideal that you had before you, a concrete experience of an abstract ideality, and therefore the better suited to your needs. But how the ideal does brighten our prosaic lives!

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An awakening in social life to the intelligent appreciation of music’s forms of expression and possible mission suggests more breadth in teaching the art.

Many attending the concerts of our symphony societies, to whom individual performance is denied by stress of other duties; ignorant of the form of a symphony, concerto, overture; not aware of the raison d’être appertaining to an orchestra’s grouping; uninformed about the specific tone-color, even construction, or appearance of single instruments like bassoon, oboe, etc., recall with bewilderment their former years of devotion to finger-exercises, and question why the theory of the art, in its above practical beginnings, is not more widely discriminated by those calling themselves teachers of music.

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That we have musicians who can do and are doing good creative work is well known, but there is an almost insurmountable difficulty in getting a good hearing for original works. The following extract from an address by Mr. Walter Damrosch is worthy of attention, as it clearly sets forth this aspect of the case:

“It is you, you, the musical public, that must do your part. It is not enough for you to come to hear the old “Messiah” and the old “Elijah” or the “Creation”; you must come to hear new works and encourage the society to give them. You must come not only to hear Brahms’ “Requiem” and Berlioz’s “Te Deum,” but you must patronize the works of American composers. For how can we ever have a national music fame, or how can musicians learn except by contemplating their own mistakes in their works where produced? Do not forget that the public has its duty also, at least for some little time.”

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