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Editorials

It is a matter of regret that ambitious young men and women, the former especially, are unwilling to locate in the smaller cities and larger towns. They seem to feel that they owe it to their talents to seek the large cities. Various reasons for this unwillingness are given, but, in truth, few of the excuses are sound and based on good business principles. These young people know that the cities are filled with musicians and teachers, who are subject to the fiercest competition; that many of them are making but a scanty living, certainly one incommensurate with the time and money expended in securing a thorough musical education; that the struggle is not becoming easier; that the many are forced to doubtful expedients to secure pupils and position, and to retain them; these facts are well known, but still the unwillingness to go into smaller cities continues.

The editor receives letters from various places asking if he cannot recommend some competent man or woman for a position as organist or to come and work up a class of pupils. These letters have been referred to teachers of prominence, but in almost every instance the reply has been: “Yes, I can recommend several clever young men, ambitious and capable, but I fear they will not care to leave the city.”

This is all wrong. The opportunities outside of the large cities are often in reality much better than the young musicians think. The larger towns and small cities contain a number of refined, cultivated persons, and the social tone is such as to satisfy the musician. Young ministers are content to take parishes outside the large cities, and there is no reason why a young musician also should not be. If his training and his abilities warrant his trying to make a place in the cities, they doubly justify him in going to a smaller place with the possibility of winning a commanding position and often a better living.

There is another phase that may be urged. Those who live outside the cities have a right to good service and the best of teaching; and they want it. When the members of this year’s graduating classes are looking around for fields of labor, let them not overlook the districts outside the cities.

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Perhaps you have the education of some young person who has chosen music as a profession. If so, there is one matter that you will do well not to neglect. And that is a knowledge of financial affairs.

Too many young people are rushed from the day-school to the conservatory and from the conservatory to their own teaching-room without having acquired any idea of finance or property in general. They do not know how people earn money, how the banks handle it, how it is loaned, how property is described, bought, sold, mortgaged. Their ideas of money-matters are of the crudest. Some day there is an awakening to this fact when they have some business matters to attend to and find themselves completely at the mercy of other, perhaps unscrupulous, persons.

A good part of this ignorance is, I grant, the fault of the unpractical school-curriculum; but this lack may be supplied by proper instruction or, better still, by some time devoted to business-life. If the business-life should prove so attractive as to quench the desire for the music-life, it only proves that the subject was better fitted for the business than for the music, and you should be glad that you did not spoil a good business-man to make a poor musician,—poor in two senses. The musical life is more enjoyable, at any rate, as an avocation than as a vocation.

But if, on the other hand, the love of musical work is too strong to be driven from the mind by the life of commerce, then let the natural gift have its way, and know that the knowledge of finance and business may come into good play at some time in the future when it is sorely needed.

There are far too many unpractical, unbusiness-like musicians; or, rather, there have been; that was one of the things that has brought the profession somewhat into disrepute. And this lack of knowledge and care for the ordinary business details of life has been at the root of the matter, based on a one-sided education. The matter is one that has a remedy at hand in nearly every case, and it is for those who have in charge the education of young musicians to apply it.

 

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So long as music is discussed that long the question will present itself as to why so few succeed when so many study and study hard. The easier way for the aspirant to answer this question is by offering such excuses as conditions, overstocked market, foreign invasion, lack of funds to advertise or push, or even lack of funds to wait for work.

Unfortunately, in a great measure, all this is true, but it is not always the whole truth. The whole truth is, as so frequently is the case, unpalatable. He who is earnest of purpose may offer the foregoing excuses to others, but for himself he knows that he must put aside sophistry and acknowledge that the cause of failure after failure has incapacity of some kind as the basis.

Music-students, and especially those of the feminine sex, are prone to allow music to consume all the time of study. Concentration is one thing, but narrowness is another, and it is unquestionable that he who narrows down to one side of anything kills it entirely. There is no breadth, there is no spontaneity, there is no inspiration, there is nothing that breathes of actual genius. There is nothing but the clang of the hammer and the evidence of drudgery.

Lack of a higher education is as unpardonable in a musician as it is in any other line where education is the foundation of culture and refinement. Logic, philosophy, mathematics, all go to form the levelheaded thinker. Why should the music-student consider himself exempt from everything except a free rein to emotion?

When questioning why one is not a success it is well to become introspective long enough to ask:

What is the element that is lacking in me?

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Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire philanthropist who has been establishing libraries from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is quoted as having said that he still has $280,000,000, the greater part of which he hopes to distribute for the benefit and pleasure of his fellow-man. If Mr. Carnegie wants to make use of a few millions in a way which would confer the highest good on his adopted countrymen he could do no better than to use them in founding a national conservatory of music, where poor and talented pupils could be educated free of charge, if their talents seemed to warrant it, and in founding free concerts in our large cities where the poorer class of people could hear high-class music performed at a nominal charge.

 

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The steady increase i (sic) the number of conservatories and schools making a specialty of music, an increase especially noteworthy in the larger centers, furnishes food for thought to private teachers. Not only is the number of such institutions growing, but many of those which have been established for some time are in a highly flourishing condition.

The causes of this growth are many: The tendency nowadays is to specialize and to centralize in all branches. Increasing facilities for rapid transit and the consequent shortening of distances tend largely to foster this condition. The ability to offer first-class instruction at largely reduced rates, brought about by the system of class-instruction pursued in most conservatories, has proved a great attraction, and has done much toward fostering a knowledge of and taste for good music in this country. The so-called free advantages which many schools have been enabled to offer, in the shape of harmony, ensemble, and other classes have also proved a popular feature.

In spite of all this, however, private teaching does not seem, at least, to be upon the wane. This is partially proved by the fact that most teachers engaged in conservatory work also receive private pupils, their school and private work apparently not conflicting in any way.

We are led to the conclusion that there is still room for all. The success of the conservatory should but spur the private teacher to renewed effort. He cannot afford to stand still, but must continually be on the alert for all modern development in his art; and he must, in addition, endeavor to develop that business instinct and attention to routine and detail which so many teachers and musicians lack. Conservatories and schools are conducted on strict business principles, and in this the private teacher cannot do better than imitate them.

Conservatory and private instruction have both their advantages; both will always have a share of the patronage; between the two the capable, well-equipped, and conscientious teacher should not lack abundant field for his efforts.

 

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The Etude has frequently urged the organization of local musical clubs among teachers and students. It is a good thing to give a special character to the organization by centering the work largely on practical lines. Some time ago we noticed that a society was formed by Edinburgh, Scotland, musicians, with the title of the “Edinburgh Musical Education Society.” Here is a suggestion; for all teachers are educators, let us hope, according to their light. But better work can be done by a banding together in the spirit of a common purpose.

 

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In a few weeks more the meetings of several State associations of music-teachers will convene. We want to say again that it is a matter for keen regret that so very large a proportion of musicians remain outside their respective State associations. And not only do they stay outside, but they will often indulge in unkind criticism of those who do hold membership and do their part in promoting, in an organized way, the interests of the whole body of music-teachers. The weaknesses of nearly all the associations can be removed by one thing: a strong membership of working members. We hope that the officers of the various associations will be able to prepare programs that will be at once useful and practical as well as entertaining, and that the plans for the ensuing year will draw a larger number of members who will share in the work. The ineffectiveness of unorganized work has been proven; let us now have organization; let us try what can be done by all working together, not for self, but for all.

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