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The Teachers' Roundtable

 

Conducted by PRESTON WARE OREM. 

SCOLDING.

I want to add a few words on scolding to those written by F. L. S. for the October Etude. Each teacher has all kinds of pupils,—if he has a large class,—and necessarily must “scold.” I recall one of my teachers who entirely controlled every thought of mine, yet just how it was done I never quite under­stood. She was very strict in a way, and seemed to realize fully that to let a pupil make a mistake and not correct it was nothing less than a falsehood. I think sometimes she felt cross, but always failed to show it. I am inclined to think that sometimes teachers do not scold enough.—J. L. S.

* * *

QUESTIONS ASKED BY MY PUPILS.

II.

“Why is scale-practice considered to be so impor­tant?” In reply I first explained that pianoforte-pieces consist of passages which really are bits of scales, or chords, or arpeggios. Scale-practice is im­portant for the development of fluency in execution. Lightness, delicacy, velocity, all are developed by varied scale-practice. Automatic fingering, too, is established in this way. But scales must not be prac­ticed in the mechanical way only. Scales are the foundation of all melodies, and, therefore, must be played melodiously.

Single-handed scale-playing is far more important than the playing of them with both hands one octave apart. Usually I train my pupils to play “plain scales” with both hands together, one octave apart, principally for the mental effect regarding the finger­ing. But I soon leave that for special work for each hand alone, until we begin to work on scales in thirds, sixths, tenths, contrary motion, and so on. An excellent test for evenness in scales is to play them softly: i.e., delicately. Each lesson should in­clude a certain amount of scale-instruction and work. From juvenile beginners I expect two or three scales at each lesson, these to be played first with a slow, firm touch, producing full, singing tone, and next a more delicate touch to produce soft, light, and more rapid runs.—F. G. Robinson.

APPLAUSE.

At some institutions of learning, in college and conservatory concerts and recitals, in the matinees of many musical clubs, “no applause” is le bon ton and an established rule. Let it be a matter of con­ventional taste and fashion, a subject to regulation in a musical club, for instance, or any association, wherever majority and ballot decide. But not in schools. The no-applause-rule may be limited to sacred music, organ-recitals, and church-concerts, out of reverence for the text, for the subjects, and the place of performance, but otherwise and elsewhere a dead silence, or murmur and conversation only, after each number of a program is painful, and a damper to the enthusiasm of performer and listener.

The desire to praise, to applaud, is inherent in human nature, especially with young people; it cannot be done with words, so be it expressed by clapping of hands. Applause is to young musicians like dew to the flower, refreshing, especially to pupils and students of music, mere amateurs always more or less nervous and embarrassed in public perform­ance. Silent attention during, and liberal applause after, playing or singing is a great encouragement, an incitement and stimulus to put forth their best efforts, a well-deserved reward always, a real kind­ness, and the best compliment.—H. H. Haas.

TEACH A CHILD TO LISTEN.

If children were taught to listen and were encour­aged in using the ears as diligently as the fingers, we would have more intelligent playing. The ability to listen not only acts as a tonic on the mind, stimulat­ing it to greater activity, but is a powerful concen­trator. It draws the thoughts to a focus, and is highly recommended for absent-minded pupils.

To a child musical sounds have a meaning if he listens intelligently, and their respresentatives (sic), the notes, are no dreadful ogers invented for his special torment, but good friends with whom he spends many pleasant hours.

Development must begin at his stand-point. Not at yours. Every child is a hero-worshiper (sic); find out his musical hero, and have him listen to his music and point out what is best. Above all things do not deafen him with large doses of music that he cannot understand. His ear-technic is not sufficient for that yet. Simplicity in harmony, attractiveness in melody, strength in rhythm are features that appeal to the child’s ear.—Mary R. Holeman.

* * *

MUSIC-LESSONS AS A “FAD.”

The study of music seems to be simply a “fad” with some people. They begin the study because they have a friend who has taken it up, or they have heard some one who has studied several years and plays nicely; and they think they will take a few lessons and learn to play just as well. After a few lessons they say: “How much there is to learn! I did not think there was so much in music.” This sort of pupil usually gives up before one has a chance to give her much instruction. Some of these pupils might become good players if they would stick, and not expect to learn all about music in a term or two of lessons.—Frederick A. Williams.

* * *

CONFORMATION OF THE HAND.

Some time ago I received an application for les­sons from the mother of a little girl, twelve years old, who had taken three terms of lessons from as many different, teachers, but with no progress. I asked the mother to bring the girl to my studio so that I might talk with her.

The next day the mother and the girl came. The child was bright-appearing, though somewhat deli­cate-looking. After the usual preliminary remarks I asked her if she liked music. She said that she did, but did not like to practice because of pain in the knuckle of the fourth finger; she also said that the stool made her tired. I looked at her hand and asked her to play some little piece she had recently practiced. I saw then that the hand was the cause of the trouble. It was, so to speak, “webbed.” The skin between the fingers extended upward from the knuckle toward the middle joint. When she tried to raise the fourth finger to the “straight position” she had been using, the skin would not yield enough to permit a proper elevation of the fourth finger to give sufficient force to the touch, and cramped the muscles, causing pain. All her fingers were affected in this manner.

I put her at the table, gave her a high-knuckle position, and instructed her in the Finger-Touch No. 1, as given in Mason and Mathews’s primer for scales and running passages, counting 1, 2, 3, 4; but instead of speaking the count “four” I had her say “high-knuckle” quickly, not breaking the tempo. I told her to keep this up thirty minutes daily at short intervals for several weeks. The object of speaking “high-knuckle” was to keep constantly in mind the position desired. I also changed her studies to Mathews’s “Standard Graded Course,” beginning with Volume I.

The work and progress is marvelous; formerly she was not interested, now she enjoys her studies; the pain in the fourth finger is gone; and pupil, parents, and teacher are delighted. A hassock was placed under her feet to prevent the lower limbs from be­coming tired from hanging.—Samp Cooper.

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