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The Teacher of To-Day.

BY WILLIAM SMITH GOLDENBURG.

In former years, a knowledge of theory was not generally considered an essential feature of a musical education. The concert-performer, we may say, was our father’s ideal musician. That was yesterday! To-day the world, at least the musical world, is beginning to realize that true musicianship consists of something more. The ability to perform well upon some instrument stamps the “artist.” The sound reasoning of the mature intellect, resulting, as a matter of course, in the establishment of musical truths; and the knowledge of the principles which govern harmony, counterpoint, and the construction of various compositions, that must inevitably follow, proclaim the “musician.” There are artists and artists—amateur and professional! The circle of musicians is limited to the artists who think; to those who reason, investigate old rules, and establish for themselves new ones, all of which go to adorn the great temple of “Musical Art.” The artist merely utilizes the truths which his scientific brother discovered.

That time spent upon the study of theory is not thrown away will be granted by every thoughtful teacher. You would not presume to master the French, German, or Latin tongue without acquiring a knowledge of the grammar of that tongue. Theory is the “grammar of music”! Why strive for musicianship without building your foundation upon the principles which govern music?

Upon the teacher of to-day rests the responsibility for the popularity of the musician of the future. Let the teacher see to it that the pupil is encouraged to search for the scientific reason of things. The idea that music is not a science is false. It is the oldest, the greatest, the most exact of them all! To no other cause can we attribute the high standing of the “art.”

Teacher, we need “theorists.” American theorists! At present there is painful lack in that direction. Teacher, we need “artists.” American artists! At present there is a superabundance of foreign material. Teacher, we need “musicians.” American musicians! Musicians who know the rules laid down by ancient masters, and utilize them in the solution of present- day problems; who fearlessly establish principles not extant in any modern text-book, regardless of the ravings of critics, whose duty it is to criticize, but who too rarely give birth to a critical expression. They may call such a one fool! crank! iconoclast! Your duty remains the same. You must teach your pupil “independence.” Teach him to rely upon his own faculties for the solution of difficult problems is the key-note of the progress which leads to success.

May we expect this work from you? Will you guarantee the excellence of the coming musician?

 

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