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A Polymathic Teacher


A very ambitious young woman once registered with me for lessons in piano and harmony. She was studying almost everything else under the sun at the same time, including the higher mathematics, Latin, French, German, elocution, and voice. Of course, by attempting too much she did nothing. Every teacher she had was trying to persuade her to drop something, but she kept right on in the most cheerfully stubborn way and regularly appeared for her lessons at the appointed time, without a vestige of improvement in her work and not an available idea in her tightly packed little head. Her mind seemed to be a perfect blank, and she never could recall anything that had been said at the previous lesson. One peculiarity was that, though she had studied piano for some years, she had never been able to learn the scales, while with me she did manage to fix the succession of tones of “C” scale in her mind, and could play it successfully sometimes. But there she stopped. She seemed to reason that since a certain succession of tones formed the scale in one octave a different succession must be used for the next octave; and so I have known her to put G-sharp, B-flat, F-natural, and E-flat all into the scale of “G” and assert that it sounded right. The harmony lessons ended with the fourth one, as by that time she was so befogged that she could hardly tell a line from a space, and I did not want to be responsible for too much of the brain fever which I felt sure must follow if she persisted in her mad career. During vacation time this summer one of her other numerous teachers sent me a local paper containing this child’s professional card. She advertised to teach some fourteen different branches, and among them was harmony!


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You are reading A Polymathic Teacher from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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