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The last demand that should be made upon a student of singing is loyalty to a teacher. When the time does arrive that such a demand is just,—it should be insisted upon—or the relations severed.

Loyalty is based, not alone upon good intentions on the part of the teacher, not upon congeniality between teacher and pupil, but upon the teacher’s ability to command first, interest, then obedience, and then results.

Much has been said about respect for the teacher. A pupil respects the teacher who controls him. Not for his character, that is not the pupil’s responsibility; not for reputation, that may be the most accidental thing about him; but for his power in calling forth the highest possibilities in him.

Every relation between teacher and pupil is false that is not directly concerned with the pupil’s progress. The compact between the two is strictly business. One pays for instruction, as he pays for a commodity, and is entitled to the full worth of his money. If he finds the other party to the transaction able (using the trade vernacular) “to deliver the goods,” he makes a fatal error if he changes.

The sympathy argument is weak. One doesn’t or shouldn’t pay money for sympathy. The teacher who holds his pupils by appealing to their affections or admiration is a charlatan. An appeal to the esthetic and sentimental qualities of a student is essential, but upon the high ground of their relations to the art, not for a moment is it to be confused with the personality of the teacher.

In the home we can exact obedience; in the school we expect obedience; in the studio we must command obedience. Without obedience the teacher is a cripple. His pupils run while he crawls, and whither they will. The dignity of the profession is sacrificed and worse, the musical character of the student is misshapen.

Loyalty to a teacher follows always when the guiding hand is strong—first in ideals, then in the compelling power to sustain them.

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You are reading Loyalty. from the July, 1906 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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