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Things Which Count.

BY FAY SIMMONS DAVIS. 

1. Opportunity.—Only those teachers and students who have been handicapped by cramped environment can realize the value of odd moments, and know what can be accomplished by utilizing them for improvement. “Is there one whom difficulties dishearten? who bends to the storm? he will do little. Is there one who will conquer? That man never fails!”

The concentrated work of ten minutes (dearly bought) is worth a day of half-hearted labor when time is at a discount. Such effort leaves an impress of strength and a habit of research upon a man’s life, which counts in his struggle for success.

2. Understanding.—One period of music, analyzed and comprehended intelligently, as well as enjoyed emotionally, can never be lost; whereas a whole selection only technically conquered will, if laid aside, leave no impression or influence upon the musical spirit and life of the performer.

3. Insight.—The world is not in need of great artists. Instead, it sadly lacks instructors who will teach not only that “art is great,” but why it is great. It needs teachers who will patiently, from the beginning, explain to pupils the use and application of each little point as it appears. A great light (such as some people receive when they “experience religion”) seldom, if ever, comes into a child’s musical comprehension. Instead, it is the illumination of an evenly-developed understanding and insight, brought about by careful explanation of “the reason for things,” which shines forever upon his musical life. It is the assimilation of knowledge which expands and develops, and not the cramming.

4. Thoroughness.—A teacher or pupil should make a friend of any selection or study upon which he is working. If at first it is not understood, he should try it again and again until it is thoroughly comprehended. Its more uncongenial points will probably be recognized first. Then he must search for the fine characteristics. The selection should be wintered and summered,—worked upon and rested upon. Every renewal of friendship with it will bring it nearer to the heart and understanding. And by and by the worker will not want to part with it, for it has grown to be a part of himself.

5. Research.—Teachers, make of yourselves musical detectives; be ever on the watch for that pupil who steals time-value from measures,—who robs selections of their beautiful phrasing and meaning,— who takes from the studio more of your energy and vitality than he will ever repay in carefully-prepared work. He must be taught how to return as much as he takes. He must learn that one moment of earnest thought on his part is worth a dozen of careless practice, and that an ounce of prevention of mistakes is worth a pound of correction. The result will then depend upon his own personal value, but in any case you will have done your faithful duty.

6. True Worth.—Pupils may come and pupils may go, but the work of the evenly-developed and high- minded endures forever, and he always has enough to do. No one can estimate his far-reaching influence. Many are the minds that have been enlightened by his portrayal of music as a scientific language, speaking to the heart and mind as words can never do. His sincerity of purpose, his high ideals, his energy and perseverance under all conditions have, by the very nature of things been contagious. The pupils of such a teacher have been uplifted mentally, morally and artistically by his example, and so will others through them, making an endless chain of mortals helped directly and indirectly on their journey through life.

7. Unselfishness.—That success which includes unselfishness as a prime factor is lasting and sweet. The life of every true musician cannot help but influence other lives in passing. It was John Ruskin who penned the beautiful words:—“Life is a magician’s vase, filled to the brim; so made that you can neither draw from it, nor dip out of it; nor thrust your hand into it. Its precious contents overflow only to the hand that drops treasures into it. If you drop in charity, it overflows love; if you drop in envy and jealousy, it will overflow bitter hatred and discord.”

Every musician should be as great as his art, and his heart should be as big as his head; then his deeds will be what one would naturally expect from such a handiwork of God.

 

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You are reading Things Which Count. from the July, 1906 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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