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A Teacher's Competition.

There are many young teachers to-day who are fighting the competition of accidents. They realize it, and rebel against it, but yet content themselves with the consciousness of their own worthy efforts, fostering the determination to win in the long run, secure in the feeling that in music, as in other walks of life, “right will prevail.”

A. had fully prepared himself as a teacher, and with his adequate equipment settled in a city of thirty or forty thousand inhabitants, and formed a class. He was not an attractive man, nor a great singer, but a musician. Being a fair organist, he soon secured a choir position, and by well-directed and legitimate effort became moderately successful. His class was drawn from the better element of the place, he stood well socially, and was easily recognized as the leading voice teacher. Musically his success was not what one would call brilliant, his pupils were held in check for reasons too obvious for other comment than approval, and, while his influence for good was gradually spreading, he had not startled the community by bringing forward any remarkable voices, nor were the programs at his recitals characterized by an unusual display of difficult or showy numbers. He was not an advertiser; if the papers made any comment upon his work, it was not of his own seeking, nor did he seem to care for that kind of notoriety.

It was after he had been there about two years that B. appeared upon the scene. B. was a handsome, dashing fellow with a fine tenor voice and no end of assurance. He planned his advent to perfection, a few letters to the society leaders, an invitation to sing at a 4 o’clock tea, which was a huge success, followed by a song recital to which everyone that had the slightest influence was invited. Briefly, B. was the hero of the hour, and it soon became known that he would accept a limited number of pupils, at about double the price which had hitherto been current.

A. was clearly left in the background. One by one his pupils yielded to the blandishments of the handsome tenor, and his thoughtful and well-laid plans for the advancement of his class were seriously upset. The few who remained either from loyalty or inability to pay the higher price were by no means his best singers, and he spent many unhappy hours in contemplation of the change in his prospects. B. meanwhile was rushing the papers without stint; not a day passed but there appeared some notes commenting upon the beautiful studio of Prof. B. or the rapid progress of his pupils. At last the great event of the season was announced. Prof. B. was to give a “musical evening,” and at the opera house. Society was on the tiptoe of expectation, the dressmakers were in a flurry, and a long line of carriages revealed the already well advertised fact that some thing quite unusual was to occur.

A. debated some time as to whether he should attend, one of his former pupils had considerately remembered him with tickets, and he decided that he must swallow his pride and go. As he passed down the aisle he was conscious of being closely observed, and it was not until he was seated and had begun to study the program that he fully regained his composure; indeed, it was a trying moment and he half regretted his decision to attend. His glance at the program was rewarded by some most unusual surprises. Most of the pupils who had been selected to appear, were those who had deserted him, and, more remarkable yet, they were to sing numbers which he himself had taught them, numbers which he would not have presumed to allow them to sing in public, least of all in the opera house, and he also noticed that two numbers were assigned to Prof. B.

The program opened with a chorus for ladies’ voices, after which the serious work of the evening began. It was an evening of elegance, of flowers, of frequent recalls, but not an evening of music, and as

A. left the house, his feelings could hardly be described. Pride in the ultimate security of his own position, pity for those who had sacrificed so much of voice and time by heedlessly yielding to the fad of a fashionable teacher were uppermost in his mind, while he quietly speculated as to how long it would be before he would really begin to enjoy the benefit of the evening’s work, for he knew that the audience could not help realize the atmosphere of utter superficiality which filled the opera house on that occasion.

Moral: A beautiful voice, a good presence, and much advertising are not sufficient as guarantees that it is best to change teachers.

 

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