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Opportunities for the Study and Enjoyment of Music Offered to the Students in a Typical College for Women.

It is seldom that a girl goes to college in these days without some knowledge of some branch of music. There are few girls who have not in their youth been subjected (too often unwillingly) to some sort of musical training, whether upon the piano, violin, or in singing, and sometimes in regular attendance upon certain series of concerts. But in the busy years devoted to preparation for college, the student has time for nothing but to study for the examinations ahead of her, and it is then that her musical training is so often neglected, much to her regret in after-years. However, the little training that she did have helps to enable her to appreciate the opportunities offered during her college course.

Opportunities for Study and Hearing.

One of the representative colleges for women has connected with its academic department a school of music. A separate building is devoted to its use, where there is a large music-hall, music-rooms for the professors, small practice-rooms for the students, and a reading-room wherein are kept the reference-books and periodicals. Here a student may specialize in music, enter by examination, take the regular three years’ course, and graduate with the music-degree. Or, as is very frequently done, the students in the academic courses may elect courses in music, instrumental or vocal, or she may take courses in the “History of Music,” “Church-Music,” “Lives of the Great Composers and Their Work,” “Theory of Music,” and so forth. Under the direction of the director of the music-school department there is an “Analysis Class,” which is open to any member of the college. The year’s course is usually centered about the work of some one composer or group of composers, although the work of the class is by no means limited to any special subject. Recitals are held every week, for which programs are pasted on the college bulletin, and the class gathers to hear, first, a short talk, explanatory of the program, or perhaps a new survey of the work of the principal composer, whose name always appears at least once on the program; perhaps a little sketch of some new composer’s life; then the performance proceeds without further interruption. Sometimes a piano-recital; sometimes an organ-recital. Sometimes it is some singer that the class has assembled to hear, and occasionally during the year some of the really great musical artists of the day present programs which the whole college turns out to hear.

What the Students Themselves Do.

But the music which reaches and influences the entire student-body is that which they produce for themselves. In a large college there are invariably some students who play the piano remarkably well, others who play the violin, some who sing; and the pleasure that these students give their fellows is really immeasurable and invaluable. It usually happens that every “house” possesses at least one student who can “do” something besides play waltzes and two-steps on Saturday evenings for the frivolously inclined, and at every opportunity they are beseeched to “do” it. In the half-hours between dinner and study-hours the students who play or sing are very willing to do so, and the others are delighted to sit, listen, and enjoy. Sunday afternoons, too, any chance visitor is begged to perform, and everybody who can do so plays and sings and gives her services freely in the afternoon entertainments. Often on Sunday evenings a large number of girls gather in one of the larger houses on the campus. The meeting is quite informal; sometimes it happens that the performance turns into a regular musicale—without a program. The piano is always played, the violin and the harp and guitar are favorite instruments, and singing is always enjoyed. The girls very often play really difficult music. Quaint old airs may be introduced, or some English ballads rendered, the newest songs are sung, some old favorites are invariably called for, and occasionally the girls will render their own compositions to a very appreciative audience. The students also occasionally get up some musical entertainments, little operettas, regular musicales, where the girls take all the parts and are each enthusiastically applauded by their friends.

Musical Clubs.

There are also regular clubs which are organized and run by the students. The glee club is the most prominent and popular; there are the banjo and mandolin clubs, and once or twice a feeble orchestra has been started; but that soon became discouraged and promptly disbanded. The other clubs were organized early in the career of the college, and have been carried on from class to class ever since. Usually three concerts are given during the college year, and the clubs are often asked to play at some of the college entertainments. The students are always anxious to hear the glee club, and during the spring term, in the delightful hour out-of-doors after supper the club stands upon the steps of Music Hall and sings the old and new songs while the girls wander over the green campus-lawns.

The training of these three clubs depends almost absolutely upon the leaders. Especially is this true in the glee club, where every little thing is so important. If the leader of the glee club has a magnetic personality, a clear sense of rhythm, an appreciation of the music itself, and some experience in the treatment of music, then her club will be thoroughly drilled, and will make a great success in the three important concerts. The work of this club has often surprised strangers, and they have been pleased to find its work remarkably well done. The banjo and mandolin clubs seldom attain any very great success. There is not much enthusiasm among the girls themselves, and their work cannot create a real impression of worth among the audiences present at the concerts.

Benefit to the Students.

As a result of constantly hearing these different kinds of music, there is developed a spirit of frank and very fine criticism, which is usually just, and always sharp, especially when public singers and other artists perform at the college. And the student also gains a considerable knowledge of the music of the modern world, which helps her to appreciate and thereby enjoy more thoroughly the music that she hears, both in college and in the years of interest and activity after her graduation.—Lucy Morris Creevey.

 

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