The Etude
Name the Composer . Etude Magazine Covers . Etude Magazine Ads & Images . Selected Etude Magazine Stories . About . Donate .


Editorials

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.— Thoreau.

* * *

The campaign for music-education has begun again, and the responsibility for success, mediocre results, or failure rests upon the natural leaders in every community. Who these leaders are we cannot say. Conditions vary so much that in some localities the professional musicians, when it comes to public musical activities, are left behind by enthusiastic amateurs. In other places, out of perhaps a dozen or twenty teachers of greater or less prominence, not more than one or two is in active connection with organized movements to promote the musical interests of the community.

We have written along this line before, not once, but a number of times; but just now we feel that we must again call attention to the fact that the teacher’s work in the studio is not his only duty. He must get into the life of his community, and make himself a representative of its musical interests. He must get behind him the force of an organization directed toward some definite end, an end that shall advance the profession and its work in quality and amount. This organization may be a choral society, a musical club, a teachers’ association, a lecture course, or a recital series, but there must be something if the right kind of results are looked for.

* * *

“Education in music” is a sort of watchword in musical journals, in teachers’ conventions, in teachers’ own meditations. “How shall we become true educators?” is a query that many teachers propound to themselves and to others. The spirit of earnest, thoughtful inquiry is ripe; and with it is the willingness to pay the price, both in money and in work, that may be necessary to reach the end.

In musical work, as in other lines of work, we are apt to depend upon somebody else for help, for instruction, for stimulus. In this frame of mind we overlook the value, nay the absolute necessity, of our own endeavor, of individual initiative. An idea conceived and worked out alone is our possession, so hard and fast that we never lose it. When we receive instruction from others we must grasp their ideas and assimilate them before they become forces to ourselves.

Can we not have more individual work, independent effort on the part of musical educators and teachers everywhere? Many experiments are required to give conclusive data upon which to base principles of practice that shall be authoritative.
Many hands make the work lighter. Let us have a united effort all along the line. Your problems and difficulties are like your brothers’. Your work is a type of others’ work. Make this season your best.

* * *

The mutual relations of teacher and pupil furnish interesting material for thought and discussion. At the opening of a new season the subject becomes of prime importance.

Teacher and pupil both have their work to do. Neither should rely too much upon the other. To this end, let the teacher lay particular stress on securing independence of thought and action upon the part of the pupil. Let the teacher endeavor to stimulate the pupil to original effort. It is to be understood, of course, that such action is to be pursued under the teacher’s direction and supervision. The point of the matter is that the work should become less mechanical, less one-sided.

While it is a fact that many teachers need to be drawn out by pupils in order to obtain the best that is in them, it is equally true that more pupils need prodding on the part of the teacher. This is particularly true in the case of any original work. Let the pupil be made to think for himself, understanding the reason for each successive step and anticipating the step to follow.

The time to put this suggestion in force is now, at the beginning of the season. Let the teacher adopt this plan of work at once and continue the idea throughout the season. Especially should it be tried with new pupils. Many pupils have proven a failure from the very start simply because they have never been encouraged to think for themselves.

Let both teacher and pupil resolve to make a good start for the coming season and strive for better and more lasting results.

* * *

It is hard to get young people to realize the oft-quoted statement that this is a day of specialists. There is much talk about general education and a broad foundation and all that; talk that is sensible and well meant and that to a certain extent should be heeded; but what we want, after all, is a building, not alone a foundation.

That man who goes on forever building foundations in his own education may find as the result that he has on hand a fine assortment of stone walls and cellars and has reared nothing on them all. He is as bad as the Irishman who dug a lot of post holes and wanted to put them on the market. Posts are more marketable than post holes.

The good public doesn’t care a rap how much a man knows about a good many things; it wants to know how much he knows about one, what he can do at that one, how well he can instruct in that one. As a matter of choice, if a man is deciding how to conduct his education toward the end to which we are all striving—lumped up in the one magic word, “Success”—he had better know one hundred per cent, of one thing than ten per cent, of ten things.

The total is the same in figures, but what a difference in the results in life work! Better a strong, high building on a moderately large foundation than a straggling and weakly structure on a foundation acres in extent.

* * *

It is very easy for a man or woman who has worked earnestly and untiringly without seeing marked results to think that, had circumstances been more favorable, better work and a greater measure of success might have been attained. It is easy for us to imagine that our neighbor or more generally a successful competitor has the better chance, that his opportunities are greater.

This pessimistic spirit is destructive to contentment and, what is still worse, to sturdy and unflinching, courageous endeavor. It leads to a discouraged feeling that may result in an unreflecting routine style of work. “No matter what I do, nothing will come of it. I cannot win ahead anyway. So why shall I worry myself beyond the point to make my daily bread.” To such a teacher we say:

Wake up! Things are not as they seem. It is your vision that is blurred; your blood has grown sluggish; your muscles have grown stale; your mind has grown inert; your hand has lost its cunning, your brain its keenness. You are part and parcel of the world’s work, and the conditions arc the same the world over for the average man. You and your neighbor, your competitors, all, have trials and difficulties to surmount. No man’s path is absolutely free of stones and thorns. Every one must work under restrictions and difficulties of some kind. Resolute endeavor makes the difficulties of the present lose their forbidding quality. Perhaps new ones will confront you, but they will again yield. Read what Carlyle says in his book “Heroes and Hero Worship”: “No man works save under conditions. The sculptor cannot set his own free thought before us, but his thought as he could translate it into the stone that was given, with the tools chat were given.” Every one of us works under conditions. But the sturdy heart says: “I shall be master of conditions, not be mastered by them.”

* * *

Water cannot run up hill; if we desire to construct a waterway that shall carry vessels from one level to another that is higher, outside and mechanical means must be resorted to. Hence the locks that appear in canals, by which a vessel is raised or lowered from one level to a different one.

The boat passes on without obstacle, its own power is sufficient to carry it on so long as the level is maintained. But when the lock is reached nothing that the boat can do will help raise it. It must wait until the lock machinery has done its work. Then when the higher level is reached, on it goes by its own power again, until the way is barred to another and higher elevation.

The progress of a boat through a canal is an illustration of the progress of one who is seeking to advance himself in any line of attainment, and therefore of the teacher or student of music. His work bears him on day after day, week after week, and he is able to see progress, is able to mark the steps of advancement. Everything is going pleasantly, and every effort he makes, every hour of careful, thorough study and practice seems to produce results. These are the pleasant periods in work. Like the boat in a free stretch of water, one can see ahead and can note how he is reaching on nearer and nearer to the goal.

Then, suddenly, it may be, the way is blocked. Progress is apparently shut off. The student enters the dark; no outlet is seen on one side or the other; he cannot retrace, he cannot go ahead. All his efforts seem in vain. Only overhead is there light, enough to keep up his courage, and to hearten him to hope that a way may be found. Since but one way out can be seen, perhaps that is his way out. He remains firm, he keeps looking up, all the time sticking to his work.

He looks around. It seems to him that he is nearer the top than he was but a while ago. New hope arises within him. To work again; and closer, more concentrated work it becomes. He feels that he may yet get out of the pit that holds him. Once more he raises his eyes. Surely he is nearer the top, and his courage rises higher. Another period of patience and he finds that he has been raised by silent forces, operating apart from him, and that he is on a higher level than before, with new vistas ahead, new avenues of work and labor.

With new courage and a glad heart he takes up his work again, for he has measured his progress; he knows he has not only gone ahead, but he has also gone up higher.

The lock that incloses the boat on all sides, and silently raises it to a higher level, is an apt illustration of the forces which help us, silently, unknown to us, when we have done our best, and yet the way seems closed. Those hours of quiet, hopeful work are setting in operation outside forces that react on us and carry us to a higher level. One such experience—perhaps two or three may be necessary—will teach the worker to look up and to keep courage when the way seems closed. It is better to climb than to tunnel.

The man who starts out in the morning with a determination to do something during the day that will amount to something, that will be distinctive, that will have individuality, that will give him satisfaction at night, is a great deal more likely not to waste his day in frivolous, unproductive work than the man who starts out with no plan.—O. S. Marden.

<< Questions and Answers     Mixtures. >>

Monthly Archives

The Publisher of The Etude Will Supply Anything In Music