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Editorials

“He has had a long experience as a teacher, but isn’t he getting a little old?” This is the remark one sometimes hears concerning a teacher whose name is well known in the community. The same thing happens to the preacher, who is often “turned down” because he is getting old. Yet there are men who do better and better work the longer they work. What is it to be “getting old”? And what to be advancing in years without falling into this kind of unproductive “yellow leaf”? It is a question that has a great deal in it.

When a teacher is getting crabbed and morose, he is “getting a little old.” When he has lost his sympathy with child-life, he is “getting a little old.” When he ignores all the improvements of the last twenty years and sticks to his old ways, he is probably “getting a little old.” When he is sick and misses half his lessons, he is getting ineffective, if not “old.”

It is a saying that “a man is as old as he feels and a woman as old as she looks.” There is no authoritative expression upon the last point, but the first part of the saying is true. Teaching is a business of give and take. The teacher adapts himself to the child, the child to the teacher. When there is flexibility enough for this mutual adaptation to take place, the teacher has not yet gotten “old.” But when the teacher is regarded as a bore and avoided as soon as the lesson is over, the chances are that he is getting old.

As to the use of novelties, it is natural for an experienced teacher to prefer his customary tools, in the way of pieces and studies. Yet if he looks about him he hears now and then some pupil who plays better than any of his; then is the time to find out whether he is really getting old. If not, he ascertains by what means this pupil accomplished things for which he has often worked, but generally failed. In short, if his brain and his heart are dead, he has gotten old. How old are we? This is the question.

Many a king who has gained the name of being a great monarch has been, in reality, a ruler in name only: his policy has been dictated by some obscure minister of state whose name history often fails to mention. Many a great business corporation has caught the high tide of prosperity through the counsels of a subordinate wholly unknown to the general public. Similar instances may be found in humbler spheres—in the arts, in science, in the professions. Substance and show are not always one and the same.

The successful singer fresh from finishing studies in Paris; the popular pianist sounding the praises of his latest master, probably some crabbed professor in Germany—the foundations of their success have often been laid in their own land by some modest instructor whose name seldom passes their lips. The foreigner lays the coping-stone and is henceforth credited with the erection of the whole edifice. A mistaken idea of the prestige attached to foreign study and distinguished names accentuates this disposition on the part of students. When we hear of the success achieved by the pupil of some great master let us bear in mind that honor is not always given where honor is due. Some practically unknown teacher may be more directly concerned in that success than the one who appropriates the glory.

Thus is it that to him who hath shall be given and to him who hath not shall be taken away. Fortunately outward recognition is not the only return for effectual effort. Its true reward consists more in being than in having; in a consciousness of duty performed rather than in the applause of the unthinking public.

 

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The many gifts which Mr. Andrew Carnegie has made to libraries in various parts of the United States, and the statement that he receives many letters asking for help to develop libraries in other places shows clearly that the spirit for library foundation is spreading. All of the large cities have great libraries, and in most of them the free-library system is being supported by the public. The advantages of a well-selected library need not be urged here. It is scarcely needful for us to say that every town, no matter how small, ought to have some collection of books that could be consulted. With the development of the traveling library system inaugurated in several States, the needs of small towns can be supplied. We want to urge those of our readers who live in towns or cities that maintain a library to keep alive to the need for good musical literature in these libraries. The public will read musical works if they are handy, musical fiction being most popular, of course. But there are many books of an instructive nature that the reading public will not buy, but which contain information much needed. The library authorities should have their attention called to such books and be asked to include them in their purchases.

Now, who is to bring such books to the attention of the proper persons if the musicians do not show sufficient enterprise? Those who are interested in music have a right to a share in the public funds, but only a very small amount will go for musical books unless a vigorous effort is made to keep the purchasing committee aware of the demand. Musical literature is increasing in quantity and quality every year, and musicians must make it a part of their work to see that it reaches the reading public.

 

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It has been stated in these columns again and again that there is no investment that will yield more satisfactory returns for the expenditure of time and money than that made in securing a musical education. It has also been said that a young man who has his way to make in the world, especially if he should go into a strange place, with no friends to count upon, no acquaintances to brighten his hours of leisure, will not want for friends and for comfort in his hours of solitude if he has musical resources, either as instrumentalist or vocalist. There have been many instances in which young men have been able to make musical accomplishments a stepping-stone to fortune. The latest instance that has come under our notice is that of Mr. Charles M. Schwab, who is now the president of the great steel trust recently organized.

Some years ago Mr. Schwab was an engineer in the Braddock, Pa., mills, of the Carnegie Company. Mr. Carnegie was ill at his home, and the young man was sent there to give him some information about the business. Mr. Carnegie had been told that young Schwab had musical ability, and asked him to play. He did this very modestly, and was then asked: “Play some of the old tunes; or, stay, do you sing?” Mr. Schwab sang some old Highland airs, and before the interview closed had gained the great capitalist’s interest and the privilege of speaking of his own history and his hopes. From that day on Mr. Carnegie was his staunch friend, and his rise in business certain,—indeed, phenomenal. While his musical accomplishments did not make his future, it is certainly safe to say that they contributed to gain for him the opportunity of planting his feet firmly on the first steps of the ladder. We want to give this word of encouragement to all young men who are studying music: It may not lead you to high fortune, but it will help you in your social life and in the quieter hours that you may spend alone with your art. It will brighten your life and that of many others if you will give of your abilities freely.

 

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We are very much pleased that the suggestion made in this column last month in regard to teachers furnishing to local papers reading of a musical nature and current matters of general musical interest has developed the fact that this kind of work is being done in a number of places, and being done thoroughly well, too. Those from whom we have heard all say that the results are quite satisfactory and that the interest manifested shows that there is a demand—indeed, a great need—for just such reading in all papers. The proper material is reports of all local events of a musical nature, avoiding anything like criticism of amateurs: choir and, choral-society news, not even neglecting the town orchestras and bands, when their work is worthy; short articles to stimulate interest in concerts and recitals, full accounts of the various teachers and their work, items concerning the great artist players and singers, notices of good new music and books about music, and especially all news items that show what other places are doing, in a public way, for music.

We hope to hear during the month from a larger number of our readers, and to learn that many more have arranged to begin this kind of work to increase a love for music and a hearty support of the laborers in music in every town and city. We are very willing that those who may take charge of a musical column shall quote from The Etude freely, only asking that credit be given.

 

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The day is here when the studio bespeaks the taste of the occupant just as does the home of an individual, whose degree of refinement and culture is not difficult to detect by the decorations with which he surrounds himself, be they massively elegant or severely and classically simple. The piano has always seemed an ungainly piece of furniture which in no way could be made to fit into a color-scheme or any other esthetic design.

At the present time many of the manufacturers are giving great attention to the cabinet-maker’s art, and several have stowed away in their warerooms art creations which are only shown upon state occasions. The decorations are in keeping, as a general rule, with some musical subject: such as the different scenes of renowned operas, and be it well understood that these must be the highest type of art, or nothing could look more ludicrous and cheap. There are many people who give themselves the luxury of special cases, and there is no reason why artistic and original designs in piano-cases should not be submitted to a house to put a fine instrument into.

When one looks around among the elaborate studios one marvels that more of the art-pianos are not in use. How incongruous, however, to enter a magnificently- equipped studio, where everything seems to speak of opulence and good taste, to find that horror of horrors—a poor piano! This, indeed, is as unpardonable a breach as it is for an admirably-gowned woman to destroy the ensemble by a shabby boot, or—equally as bad—a soiled glove. To say nothing of the inartistic from the musical side, from the esthetic it is still more glaring, and no time should be lost in banishing such bête noirs from the artistic studio. On the other hand, care should be given in the selection of instruments as regards the eye, for it is as easy to make a handsome, shapely case as to incase a piano in a great, cumbersome box, and the day for this is over.

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