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Some Qualities of the Ideal Student.

In music, as compared with kindred artistic pursuits and the various learned professions, what may be termed the truly ideal student seems to be more of a rarity. The study of music seems not to be ap­proached with the same seriousness of intention and concentration of effort as do the others. This is espe­cially to be deplored, since, to attain an even approxi­mate perfection of mastery in this art, one must de­vote a much longer period of time than is required in most other professions, and wait longer, perhaps, for commensurate, material reward for one’s labors.

The ideal student must, first of all, possess that respect for his art and devotion to it which will com­pel the respect of others. It has not been so many years since the musician was considered as little better than an upper servant, and his present position in society, side by side with other representatives of learning, culture, and artistic accomplishments is not so secure that it may not be readily imperiled.

The ideal student must, of course, possess talent, and, before deciding upon making music his life-work, he should carefully consider as to whether he really has talent and vocation for the art, at the same time seeking the advice of those most competent to judge. Many a good amateur has been spoiled in the making of a poor or mediocre professional.

Although, as proved by a number of conspicuous examples, an early start is not indispensable and a later one no irretrievable handicap to final mastery, the ideal student should, nevertheless, have made a reasonably early beginning.

The possession of talent is of little avail without industry, patience, and unremitting perseverance. The ideal students must possess and cultivate these char­acteristics to the utmost degree. Many otherwise promising students, talented, brilliant of intellect, physically endowed, have proved utter failures by reason of lack of these three requisites, and have raised high hopes in their preceptors only to grievously dis­appoint them. In this connection the use of the rather trite aphorism, “no royal road to learning,” may be pardoned.

It is especially applicable to music-students at the present time, particularly in this country, where it seems necessary to do everything in a hurry and where, in response to the persistent demands of students, teaching materials have been curtailed and methods condensed almost beyond reason. Unquestionably music-teaching is better done, more logically planned, and more consistently carried out than ever before; consequently the student is spared much needless drudgery, and time is undoubtedly saved; neverthe­less a word of warning as to undue precipitancy of both teacher and pupil may not come amiss. The ideal student assuredly will not seek the “royal road.”

In all branches the tendency nowadays is to special­ize; consequently the ideal student will select that department of music upon which he intends to de­vote his best energies, but he should not do so to the exclusion of all other departments. For instance, the pianist should not be satisfied with mere technical fluency, even if it be accompanied by ample powers of expression and interpretation, but should also culti­vate a knowledge of theoretical music, know some­thing of vocal music, and play upon some orchestral instrument, if possible. A thorough knowledge of  “Musical History and Esthetics” is indispensable.

In addition, the ideal student should acquire the best possible general education and cultivate a taste for good literature, especially poetry, and the fine arts.

All personal eccentricities of dress and demeanor will, of course, be carefully avoided. The day of the long-haired, disheveled foreign “professor,” generally of low extraction, unaccustomed to the usages of good society, and of more or less indifferent musical knowl­edge, is past. The ideal American musician of to-day is expected to be a gentleman of polished manners, dignified deportment, and high musical and artistic attainments.

We have set a high standard for our ideal music- student, but none too high if, from the ideal student, is to be developed the ideal musician.—Preston Ware Orem.


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