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A Budget of Letters.

I HAVE received the two following questions which I will include under one head, as the same answer will substantially answer both:

Increasing Interest in Music.

“I am teaching in a village where the people never hear really good music, and do not look upon it as being of much value to any one who does not make it a source of revenue. I wish you would suggest some means whereby I can show people the worth of music aside from its money value. With such argument I believe I could become a more successful missionary of music.”

“I desire to make an effort during the summer to increase the number of members in my class when I begin again in September. Can you advise me as to methods I might use?”

It is difficult to bring home to the average intellect the relative positions of culture and commercialism in the social economy. In order to make an effective appeal along the lines of social elevation, it is necessary that there already exist a fair average of culture in the community. One devoid of this is very difficult of access, and any progress will accordingly be very slow, so slow that it will sometimes seem as if there had been a total cessation of all growth, except along the lines of monetary accumulation. Along the lines of special culture, music, for example, it will be necessary to arouse a common desire for it in the community. To this intent, people will listen to appeals from among those of their own number, before they will to a special pleader, to whom they are only too ready to attribute some ulterior motive. “Of course, Miss B. will urge the study of music,” they will say, “for it is by it that she earns her living.” But if they observe a number of their friends, especially of the more influential ones, occupying themselves with music, and showing a considerable interest in it, they will soon desire to do likewise. If people see a little active interest being taken in a given subject by a number of their associates, the example will exercise more influence over them than volumes of argument. Any scheme, therefore, that you can introduce and foster, that will arouse the active interest of a portion of the community, will call attention to you as an important factor in the musical life of the community, and be of enormous help in your work, especially in the way of attracting more pupils.

Organize a musical society among the ladies if possible, and let them engage in the study of certain musical topics, with programs of music. A society among your students will also be helpful, if your class is large enough. A good practical working basis for a musical society is to have it consist of active members, musicians, vocalists and instrumentalists, and honorary members, persons who love music and will be glad to listen to it. Make the dues moderate, and have the meetings at the houses of the members. Have a meeting of the society two afternoons in the month for active members, and one evening in each month for active and honorary members. At the monthly evening meeting allow each lady to bring a gentleman as a guest of honor, and have simple refreshments served after a short program. Make the affair as informal as possible, and the program not more than an hour in length. Use one of the two afternoons for ensemble music, duets or quartets, piano and instruments, the other for solos. A different composer each month, with a paper strictly limited to five minutes, giving a short, clear account of his life and work, is an excellent plan. The evening program may be selected from the afternoon one, and made up of the best numbers presented. Use the money collected, aside from the small sum needed for refreshments, programs and stationery, in giving a good concert at the end of the year, with outside talent if possible, and make this concert invitational and a social event. Such a course would bring home to the minds of the people the value of music as a social factor.

Point out to your pupils, who should have an evening together once a month, that music is an avenue to contact with people, and that contact is the secret of success. Bring home to business men the great value or something which can so pleasurably absorb and distract the mind that it is rested and refreshed; and dwell also upon the refining influence of a cultivated taste, and its saving power from vulgar intercourse or occupations. Use the German nations, with their scientific, industrial and political development, as an illustration, dwelling upon the fact that music is one of their prime factors of education, and deeply rooted in the home life of the people, equally loved by peasant and Kaiser, equally honored in palace and cottage. People who have not ample leisure scarcely realize the practical nature of esthetics of any sort, until they come in contact with them, and the demand must be created. The summer is an excellent time for a teacher to set about forming such a society. There will be time to work up an interest, secure members, and arrange details. The person getting up such a society is naturally brought into prominence and attracts pupils. The local papers should be kept in touch with all that is done, and one’s name is thus brought forward, at the same time that the community is having a genuine musical service rendered.

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You are reading A Budget of Letters. from the July, 1906 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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